Investors Are Driven to Short Termism, Says Hermes

If pensions aren’t investing for the long term, it might not be their fault, a survey has found.

Accounting demands, valuation models, and modern portfolio theory are driving institutional investors towards short-termism, Hermes Investment Management has claimed.

After conducting a survey of more than 100 European investors, the fund manager reported that 44% said external pressures were forcing them away from views in line with their long-term liabilities.

“The short-term factors driving the management of pension schemes require detailed attention,” said Saker Nusseibeh, CEO of Hermes Investment Management. “Schemes need to have the freedom to act and focus on longer term considerations to best serve their end beneficiaries, savers.”

Hermes is owned by the UK’s largest pension, the BT Pension Scheme.

One of the major headaches for investors, the survey found, was quarterly results, with 44% demanding longer-term reporting. Pension accounting measures and triennial valuations were equally admonished by respondents.

This short-term thinking is also taking investors’ eyes away from their roles as good shareholders. Some 37% told the survey they thought focus on short-term investment performance acted to disconnect them from “their responsibilities as owners of actual companies”.

Additional questions were asked about innovation in the asset management industry. Some 42% said they wanted greater innovation around outcome-focussed investing, while 32% wanted better ways to reduce volatility.

More than half—56%—said they wanted innovation around the disclosure of costs.

“Innovation in our industry is critical, as long as the interests of those we serve remain paramount,” said Hermes’ Nusseibeh. “The desire for innovation around disclosure of costs is of benefit to all as transparency serves everyone and complexity no one.”

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