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Fiduciary Duty under the Microscope: Stewardship and the Spectrum of Pension Fund Engagement

Anna Tilba and Arad Reisberg

Abstract

UK pension fund trustees’ interpretations of their fiduciary duties may shape pension fund approaches to corporate stewardship and engagement envisioned by the UK Stewardship Code. Data from interviews with pension fund trustees, executives, investment intermediaries and pensions experts reveals interpretive pluralism of the concept of fiduciary duty in the area of pension funds. This article develops a model identifying the spectrum of pension fund engagement, linking interpretations of fiduciary duty to intensity and methods of engagement in practice. The findings help disambiguate the concept of ‘Fiduciary Duty’, highlighting the practical challenges of Stewardship Code application. These insights are relevant to the ongoing revisions of the Stewardship Code and policy clarifications of the nature of fiduciary duty by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. The paper encourages trustees, regulators and others to consider what role pension fund trustees should have in stewardship, which may not be directly relevant to their fiduciary duties as trustees.

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Published May 2019
Frequency Bi-Monthly
Volume 82
Issue 3
Print ISSN 0026-7961
Online ISSN 1468-2230