The Law Debenture Corporation plc

05/14/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/15/2024 01:43

2024’s LawDeb Pensions Debate delivers on the topic of sustainability

Law Debenture hosted its flagship annual Pensions Debate in the heart of Westminster on Monday 13th May, at One Great George Street.

The event, which Law Debenture's Mark Ashworth launched in 2004, drew more than 200+ pensions professionals from across the industry, in person and virtually, to enjoy a thought-provoking debate on the motion: "This House believes that pension scheme trustees should now prioritise sustainability ahead of financial returns."

Hosted by Trustee Director Daniel Barlow, with newly appointed Managing Director Sankar Mahalingham acting as Chair, the event produced entertaining interactions in front of an engaged audience on a topic which is the subject of increasing interest within the industry.

Aaron Punwani, Chief Executive Officer & Partner at Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP), and Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive of ShareAction, spoke for the motion. They argued that members expect trustees to consider their quality of life, and that, as the second largest pool of private pensions assets globally, the UK pensions industry should take responsibility for driving sustainable outcomes in the long-term.

Opposing were Maria Johannesen, UK Head of Investment at Aon, and Jason Coates, Partner of Gowling WLG. They maintained that today's framework already allows for a level of flexibility to create sustainable outcomes, particularly in DC schemes, and that no changes to wider statutory frameworks are necessary. Instead, we should look at opportunities to improve S172, accountancy standards and the tax system.

Once the respective speeches were put forward by panellists, the panel received well-informed questions from the floor and online, which stoked healthy debate.

While the majority of the audience still opposed the view that the motion at the end of the debate, the gap had narrowed from 69% against the motion with 31% for, to 53% against compared to 47% in favour of the motion. So the topic remains a nuanced topic for the City's leading pensions professionals!

Audience engagement in person and virtually also revealed that 59% of respondents are in favour (41% against) of the motion that "This house believes that artificial intelligence is going to revolutionise the pensions industry."

This event was curated to prompt discussion and debate. The views shared by panellists that participated in the debate did not necessarily represent the panellists' own views, or that of their employers.

As always we would love to hear your suggestions for next year's Debate topic - do send any ideas to [email protected]