Six of the UK’s nine largest automatic enrolment pension providers do not have a policy banning investments in companies that produce toxic components of harmful weapons, according to campaign organisation ShareAction.Only three of six providers that did have specific policies to address controversial weapons excluded companies with links to chemical and biological weapons.The finding emerged from a survey the charity carried out of the nine largest auto-enrolment providers – known as master trusts – in the UK.ShareAction ranked the providers on their approaches to responsible investment, with a focus on default funds, and member engagement and communication, claiming these areas had “received little focus during the roll-out of auto-enrolment”. 195 64 260 26 Scottish Widows The People’s Pension 204 193 192 79 90 68 104 114 187 Legal & General** 73 NOW: Pensions Aegon UK* Standard Life** 64 Standard Life* 78 115 63 125 129 122 69 197 78 118 166 Royal London 193 73 Legal & General* 71 139 62 200 According to ShareAction, the top five performers were NEST, The People’s Pension, Legal & General, Aviva, and Standard Life. NEST was the top ranked provider overall mainly due to its score on responsible investment, where it was the “standout leader”.The bottom performers were Scottish Widows, Royal London, NOW: Pensions, and Smart Pension.“We do not believe that ShareAction has a good understanding of [our] approach, and it is therefore difficult to record high scores through ShareAction’s rather crude scoring system” Rob Booth, director of investment and product development at NOW: Pensions Smart Pension withdrew from the survey as it was transitioning to a new investment strategy at the time and “did not want to place dated or potentially misleading information in the marketplace that may have resulted in confusion for members”, according to chief investment officer Darren Agombar.NOW: Pensions disagrees with assessment Rob Booth, director of investment and product development, said ShareAction’s ratings focused heavily on voting rights, while NOW: Pensions’ investment strategy required it to hold equity index futures. “We do not believe that ShareAction has a good understanding of this approach, and it is therefore difficult to record high scores through ShareAction’s rather crude scoring system,” said Booth.The findings did not accurately reflect the “significant” emphasis NOW: Pensions placed on responsible investment, he added.The master trust had 15.3% of total assets under management invested in green bonds (£99.3m), equal representation of men and women on its trustee board, and a published policy of social responsibility in investments.“We are constantly developing our approach to SRI [socially responsible investing] and, over time, we will start to consider direct investment into companies which will be bound by the terms of our existing SRI policy,” Booth said. “In the meantime, we are pleased to see that we scored among the highest for communications and engagement, climate change and our controversial weapons policy.”A spokesperson for Aegon noted that its workplace default funds were passive, but “becoming increasingly ESG aligned”.Lorna Blyth, head of investment solutions at Royal London, said: “We are reviewing the report’s conclusions and recommendations and look forward to discussing in further detail with ShareAction how they arrived at their scores.” How they faredThere were pockets of good practice and innovation, ShareAction said, but “a lack of evidence pension providers are actively reaching out to savers to engage on important issues that really matter to them”.Paul Britton, research officer at ShareAction and author of the report, said: “Of course, auto-enrolment pension providers cannot be solely blamed for Britain’s retirement cliff-edge, but they do need to act on their key position to engage the 9m new workers with their pension savings.“Hoping members don’t opt-out as the minimum contribution rates rise is not enough – people need compelling reasons to save.”In April minimum contributions in auto-enrolment defined contribution schemes rose to 5% – from 1% of salary to 3% for employees, and from 1% to 2% for employers. In April 2019 the minimum will rise again to 8% in total, with the employee contribution reaching 5%.Notes: *Contract-based scheme. **Master trust. The responsible investment theme had a greater weighting in the overall score because it covered a broader range of issues. Overall score (max 352)Responsible investment score (max 227)Communication and engagement score (max 125) 127 NEST Aviva* IPE contacted the bottom five providers for comment. Scottish Widows did not respond.NOW: Pensions is the pension provider for IPE International Publishers.
That was one of five victories around the world which saw McIlroy finish top of the money list on both sides of the Atlantic, but the 25-year-old feels his Open triumph at Hoylake and victory at Firestone Country Club – both by two shots over the unfortunate Sergio Garcia – means he is playing at a higher level. “This is better,” said McIlroy, who also came from seven shots behind to win the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May. “I’m more in control of my ball and my ball flight. Mentally, I’m really sharp. “It was the most comfortable I’ve ever felt trying to close out a golf tournament out there (on Sunday). I felt normal. I felt like it was the first round or the second round. It didn’t feel like a fourth round. “When I say mentally it’s the best I’ve ever been, I didn’t get ahead of myself. I didn’t start to think about my score. I didn’t think about where I was in the tournament. I just kept playing my shot after shot after shot.” With Adam Scott narrowly failing to secure the top-five finish he needed to prevent McIlroy from overtaking him, the Northern Irishman’s lead at the top of the rankings is just 0.17 points. But McIlroy is more focused on tournament victories than rankings, with plenty still to play for in the rest of the season. He added: “It’s a nice honour and it’s a nice title to have, but I don’t think you should go into tournaments thinking about it or thinking, ‘Oh, this guy could pass me if I don’t finish in this position, or this guy could do this’. “I think you just go and you play and you try to win golf tournaments, and if you win golf tournaments, the ranking takes care of itself. My goal now until the end of the year is just to try to win as many golf tournaments as I can. It’s not to try to finish number one in the world. It’s just to get as many titles as possible. Press Association “I feel like the run of golf courses we’ve got coming up are going to suit me. I haven’t seen Valhalla, but from what I heard you need to hit it pretty long and drive the ball well.” McIlroy certainly did that in Akron, leading the field in driving distance (334.8 yards) and also finishing joint first in greens in regulation at 79.17 per cent. Asked if McIlroy was on the way to dominating the sport as Tiger Woods did in his prime, European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley told Sky Sports 4: “There is no reason why not. “That’s the best exhibition of driving I have ever seen from anybody in terms of length and accuracy. That golf course is very narrow off the tee and he is finding the fairway time after time at 340 yards. “What I think is great is that Rory can hold his attitude where it is at now, it’s very much in the present, taking one week at a time. He’s never said he was chasing Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors and that’s a great attitude, it takes the pressure off him and keeps him very much in the present where he needs to be.” Rory McIlroy believes he is in the best form of his life as he seeks a third win in succession and second major title in the space of four weeks in the US PGA Championship. McIlroy headed to Valhalla back on top of the world rankings for the first time since March 2013 after claiming his first World Golf Championship event in the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday. It is the third time the Open champion has taken top spot with a win, the first coming in the Honda Classic in March 2012 and the second later that year when he won the US PGA Championship by eight shots at Kiawah Island.