Investment and stewardship
Pooling and ACCESS
The Government has encouraged LGPS (Local Government Pension Scheme) funds to work together to put forward plans to, “pool investments to significantly reduce costs, while maintaining investment performance.”
In response, the Norfolk Pension Fund is working together with ten like-minded LGPS Funds under the name of ACCESS (A Collaboration of Central, Eastern and Southern Shires). Individually the participating funds have a strong performance history and by working together can potentially deliver substantial benefits by sharing their investment expertise.
Collectively the ACCESS Pool has significant scale with assets of £44 billion, managed on behalf of 3,534 employers and over 1.1 million members. ACCESS began the process of transferring individual fund assets into the pooled arrangement during 2018-19. Excluding passive assets, as at 31 March 2020, £11 billion was transferred to the pool including £770m of Norfolk Pension Fund assets.
The ACCESS Funds are Cambridgeshire, East Sussex, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Suffolk and West Sussex.
The Norfolk Pension Fund is committed to demonstrating good Corporate Governance and Responsibility in its investment strategy. We recognise that as a large investor we have a responsibility to use our shareholder voting rights and support good governance in the companies in which we invest. Our overall investment strategy, including our voting policy, is set out in our Investment Strategy Statement.
The Norfolk Pension Fund is a signatory to the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project).
We are members of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF). The LAPFF exists to promote the investment interests of local authority pension funds, and to maximise their influence as shareholders whilst promoting corporate social responsibility and high standards of corporate governance amongst the companies in which they invest.
We publish details of our Investments annually to coincide with our year-end (31 March). The Norfolk Pension Fund Annual Report and Accounts, published following the completion of the statutory audit in the autumn, includes additional detail and disclosure of our investment transactions.
Norfolk Pension Fund Voting
Norfolk Pension Fund voting is undertaken on our behalf by ISS (Institutional Shareholder Services) in accordance with our bespoke policy. For assets that are held in the ACCESS Pool, voting is undertaken by the Fund Manager in accordance with the ACCESS voting policy and collated by the pools operator Link Fund Solutions Ltd (Link).
We publish a record of our voting activity at company Annual General Meetings (AGMs) where the Norfolk Pension Fund has a holding. From 2019, voting records are supplied by ISS for non-ACCESS pooled assets and Link for all ACCESS pooled assets (add link to voting records on NPF website). Please click here to view our latest Voting Report.
Prior to 2019 voting records were supplied by ISS for all mandates except the Fidelity equity pooled funds. Details of the Fidelity voting record can be found here.
The voting activity of the Pension Fund is reported to Pensions Committee twice a year in quarters 1 and 3. Pensions Committee papers are available on the Norfolk County Council website.
Managers have policies on responsible investment which include the issues on which they engage:
Baillie Gifford & Co (the investment is made through the ACCESS Pool)
Fidelity Pensions Management (the investment is made through the ACCESS Pool)
Engagement monitoring is reported to the Pensions Committee in quarters 1 & 3 each year at the same time as our voting activity.