As investment managers started considering the shape of new retail labels for sustainable investment funds, one of our first steps was to talk to our customers, and then to their advisers. We wanted to know how they made sense of what is clearly a mission critical agenda for all of us. There is no doubting how central the issue of sustainability has now become, especially tackling climate change. But boiling a complex, diverse and ever-changing process down to a small number of helpful signposts for customers is not without its own challenges.
Last year was very busy for our industry – we responded quickly to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, addressed the immediate impacts of the Government’s fiscal event in September on liability-driven investments (LDI), lobbied for policy change leading to the Edinburgh Package of Reforms and continued to support clients as we all grapple with the increased cost of living, spiralling inflation and further economic uncertainty – and it looks like this pace will continue into 2023.
The IA has today published its updated ‘Governance and Disclosure Guidelines for Housing Associations Seeking Capital Markets Funding’, which has been drawn up after lengthy consultation with members and other stakeholders. These guidelines, along with reiterating those expectations previously laid out, also call for greater disclosures relating to ESG issues, such as environmental disclosures, including emissions data, and social disclosures such as information on pay gaps and qualitative discussions of social impact.
Currently, there is no standardised guidance for communication to market participants in the event of a market outage, despite the significant impact it can have on activity. That’s why today we have published a position paper that sets out our members’ recommendations on how regulators can support the wider industry to address market outages when they occur. We are now at a time of heightened cyber security risks globally, where the possibility of venue outages could become more apparent, and we consider it vital that regulators work to establish clear best practice in the event of market outages to ensure resilience is strengthened and disruption is kept to a minimum.
At the IA Annual Conference in July, we launched ‘Investing for the future: three potential paths for a tech-powered UK funds industry’. The report outlined a vision for Investment Fund 3.0, built on technological transformation, a forward-looking regulatory framework and improved engagement with customers. The original publication was covered widely by press, including in The Financial Times, The Times and City AM, invigorating the conversation about where the fund industry will head next and what needs to be done to achieve meaningful progress.
In 2020 – 12 months ahead of the UK hosting COP26 – the IA published an industry position on climate change. This paper had two main goals – one, to publicly recognise climate change as one of the single biggest systemic risks facing society and planet today and two, to serve as a blueprint for our industry’s commitment to specific action, including working with UK government, businesses and our members to accelerate change.
This year is proving to be yet another defining year for the global economy, humanity and the planet. The tragic war in Ukraine and a global energy shock are sparking a reassessment of macro scenarios amongst all market participants.