Stewardship

Wealth is created in companies. All of us who are savers and investors have an interest in the effective stewardship of those companies. Without effective stewardship of companies, the process of wealth creation is compromised. Accountability fails; complacency can set in; momentum is lost and there is a risk that the people in charge put their own self-interest ahead of that of the company.

By stewardship we mean the effective management of the assets by those to whom those assets have been entrusted, so that in due course those assets are handed on in better condition.

Throughout the wealth creation system there is a chain of stewardship.

Asset owners buy stakes in companies either directly or indirectly, entrusting money to asset managers or other intermediaries. Asset managers invest money directly or indirectly and become shareholders and part owners of companies. Asset owners and asset managers are in different ways stewards of the wealth with which they have been entrusted. As shareholders, they elect the board of directors of a company, and entrust their assets to the board. The board appoints the CEO and through this appointment, the management team, who are in turn stewards of the company and its assets.

This is what we call the stewardship value chain. If it is to work well on behalf of us all good stewardship needs to be exercised in its own particular way at each link in the chain.

Progress to date

For the last four years the 2020 Stewardship Working Party, a group of asset owners and asset managers, have been working with Tomorrow’s Company to enhance the quality of investor stewardship in the UK. The group’s work has led to:

  • the development of the PLSA stewardship framework
  • the publication, with the ICSA, of ‘Enhancing Stewardship Dialogue’
  • the research collaboration of the Investment Association, PLSA, ICSA and IRS to assess the progress of stewardship since the introduction of the Stewardship Code that, in brief, concludes that efforts to improve stewardship have reached a plateau.

Tomorrow’s Company has been developing its agenda for stewardship since its first report ‘Tomorrow’s Owners – Stewardship of tomorrow’s company’ in 2008. Our work includes:

See the full list of our stewardship publications here.

If you would like to hear more about our work on Stewardship, please contact Claire Dobson (claire@tomorrowscompany.com).

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