News in brief - 4 December 2020

Aegon has confirmed its master trust board will switch from an affiliate board structure to a fully independent board structure.

The pension provider said the change was being made in response to client and consultant feedback and would enable further external oversight and expertise for the benefit of scheme members. Because of the switch, Aegon will be recruiting a trustee with extensive investment experience, centred around the environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations in workplace pensions. Aegon Master Trust Board chair, Ian Pittaway, said: “Moving to a fully independent board and bolstering the investment expertise around the boardroom table will further strengthen our governance arrangements for the benefit of scheme members and demonstrates our commitment to respond to client and consultant feedback.”

Phoenix Group will launch an ESG-focused defined contribution default solution for pension fund clients of its Standard Life Assurance business.

The solution, which will launch in mid-December, will be a multi-asset, diversified solution with ESG fund components for key asset classes and will focus on ESG factors that mitigate “financially material risks”, while seeking to improve sustainability outcomes at a portfolio level. Its launch follows on from the expansion earlier this year of the range of self-select responsible investment funds available to workplace scheme members, which now totals 12 funds and there are plans for further expansion. Phoenix head of investment solutions, Gareth Trainor, said: “The demands placed on scheme default solutions continue to evolve. While delivering good member outcomes, value and rigorous governance is vital, responsible investment considerations have also become important to scheme members, policymakers and regulators alike. Our new ESG Default solution meets this demand.”

Aviva Investors has acquired a low-carbon, zero fossil fuel office building in London.

The asset management business said the Stylus building at 112-116 Old Street comprises over 2,300 square metres in high-quality office space arranged over six floors and occupies a prime position in the heart of London’s Tech City. The building, which is currently fully let to four occupiers, was constructed behind the retained façade of a former Victorian gramophone factory and has been awarded an EPC energy efficiency rating of A with no fossil fuel usage. Aviva Investors real estate managing director, Daniel McHugh, said: “Despite the size of London’s office market there is a significant under-supply of grade-A office space such as that offered by Stylus, particularly in the Tech City sub-market centred around Old Street Roundabout. We believe that, together, these characteristics add to the building’s appeal and should make it particularly resilient over the long term.”

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