Summary

The LGPS Scheme Advisory Board (Board / SAB) was set up under the Public Service Pensions Act 2013 and The Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations. The purpose of the Board is to seek to encourage best practice, increase transparency and coordinate technical and standards issues as well as liaise with ministerial bodies and relevant sector regulators.

The Board is keen that the LGPS is seen as a value led and innovative scheme and the increasing move toward investment fee transparency and consistency across pension funds / asset owners forms part of this goal.

Cost transparency is also part of the revised CIPFA accounting standards issued for inclusion in LGPS and administering authorities’ statutory annual report and accounts as well as being included in the government’s criteria for pooling investments.

Investment costs are a complex area with which pension committees and officers need to be familiar. The LGPS Code of Transparency (described in more detail below) helps LGPS clients gather cost information in a consistent format. Cost information must always be viewed in context of risk and return and should only form part of any overall value for money assessment.

The Scheme Advisory Board has run a procurement for a collation and compliance system for all parties (funds, pools & investment managers ) to use. This compliance system will make the process of collation more efficient than the current ad hoc arrangements and will ensure the Board can monitor compliance for the funds and the pools – as well as streamlining the process for the managers providing the data in the first place. This summary page provides the background to the LGPS Code, the procurement of a compliance system and the next steps for relevant parties to understand. A set of frequently asked questions that have been raised by investment managers and LGPS clients is available here on the Board’s website.

The LGPS Code of Transparency

A Code of Transparency covering investment management fees and costs was developed and approved by the Board and launched in May 2017. (A copy of the Code can be found at http://lgpsboard.org/index.php/the-code#theCodetop). Fund managers to the LGPS are being encouraged to sign up to this Code and as at March 2020, there were over 130 signatory firms.

The total LGPS assets under management falling under the Code is estimated at over £190bn. The total proportion of LGPS assets that could be reported in compliance with the Code is likely to be around 80%.

The largest Investment Managers by LGPS assets under management are Legal & General, Baillie Gifford, BlackRock, Aberdeen Standard and Schroder (all in excess of £10bn). The signatory list also includes smaller, more specialist, managers holding one or two LGPS mandates and less than £0.5bn LGPS assets overall. A full list of managers signed up to the Code can be found on the Board website, this is updated as new signatories provide an organisation summary. Five LGPS investment pool companies are signatories; Border to Coast Pensions Partnership Limited, Brunel Pension Partnership Limited, LGPS Central Limited, Local Pensions Partnership Investments Ltd and London CIV. Link Fund Solutions, the provider of asset management services to the ACCESS and Wales pools, have also signed up. Northern have indicated their intention to do so soon.

From its outset, the Code of Transparency was an LGPS Advisory Board (England and Wales) initiative. However, since its launch, the Scottish Scheme Advisory Board and Scottish LGPS and LGPS (Northern Ireland) clients have been included at their request.

The Templates

In 2018, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) , and following its asset management market study, launched the Institutional Disclosure Working Group (IDWG) as part of the remedies package and noted the success of the LGPS Code.

The FCA wanted to see more consistent and standardised disclosure of costs and charges for institutional investors. It thought that a standardised disclosure template should provide institutional investors with a clearer understanding of the costs and charges for a given fund or mandate. This should allow investors to compare charges between providers and give them a clear expectation of the disclosure they can expect.

In November 2018, the Cost Transparency Initiative (CTI) was launched and became the organisation taking forward the work of the previous IDWG.

For the LGPS funds to have the relevant data to investigate and understand their respective fees and costs, the Scheme Advisory Board alongside the Investment Association developed the templates currently used by the Code. At present, the LGPS Code’s templates cover listed assets only for both segregated mandates and pooled funds. A copy of the LGPS IA template and other templates can be found at: http://www.lgpsboard.org/index.php/the-template, However, the CTI’s institutional-investor-wide templates have now been launched and have been adopted for the LGPS Code. There is a transitional period of up to 12 months for managers of listed assets to move from the current template to the CTI templates.