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With auto-enrolment, the rise of defined contribution (DC) schemes, and George Osborne’s announcement a few days ago that “no-one will have to buy an annuity”, the rate of change in the (dry, jargon-filled but important) pensions arena over the last few years has been mind-boggling.

As a almost 30-something, I have become used to the regular, and increasingly shrill, media and government reminders that I need to start putting aside as much as I possibly can into my pension otherwise I’m unlikely to have a sufficiently large income to keep me in cruises and cocktails (I am nothing if not aspirational) in my twilight years.

I’m not the only one worrying about what kind of pension I’m going to retire on and George Osborne clearly thinks that trying to allay public concerns on pensions is a vote winner – at least with the 60+ years demographic.  This is why our government should be doing everything it can to encourage ‘active’ asset ownership, and why, despite the off-putting jargon, we should all be making sure our pension funds protect the value of our savings by becoming active owners.

By ‘active’ asset ownership – also known as ‘stewardship’ – I mean the process of improving company performance through use of shareholder rights by pension funds and other ‘asset owners’, in order to safeguard people’s savings.  There is a growing body of academic evidence to show that engaging a company in dialogue on risks connected to mitigating climate change can affect investment value.   In ‘real life’ terms, you only have to think about the impact of the Deepwater disaster on BP’s share price – and the knock-on effect on the value of those pensions which were invested in BP –  to realise that investors need to be aware of the full breadth of environmental, social, governance and other risks in order to protect people’s savings.

All of which is why Tuesday 25th March this year sees the second annual Ownership Day, organised by the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), which aims to raise awareness of the financial benefits of ownership investment strategies with pension funds, policymakers and the public.  We do so with support from our members, industry experts and a cross-party group of MPs including Paul Uppal and Laura Sandys (Conservative), Stephen Timms (Labour) and Mike Crockart, Michael Horwood and Julian Huppert (Liberal Democrat).

But industry action itself is not enough.  Although there have been some promising moves on the government front to encourage investor engagement, including the Financial Reporting Council’s Stewardship Code and the Kay Review of Equity Markets and Long-Term Decision-Making, there remain significant regulatory and policy barriers to growing the value of the public’s pensions through active ownership strategies.

This year, UKSIF is calling for the public sector to lead the way on active asset ownership, from asking MPs to encourage local authority pension funds to sign up to the free-of-charge Stewardship Code, to urging politicians, regulators and civil servants to clarify the legal duties of pension fund trustees and other asset owner decision-makers so that they are incentivised to engage with investee companies on environmental, social and governance issues.

We all – industry, policymakers and the public – need to ‘get engaged’ on Ownership Day.  Yes, pensions policy is dry.  And yes, there’s a lot of jargon to wade through. But if you, like me, want a good and steady retirement income, then the issue of how well your pension fund engages with the companies it invests in is far too important to ignore.

Caroline Escott is Programme Director and Head of Government Relations at the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association. Ownership Day is on 25 March 2014.