Norway’s SWF eyes even higher levels of transparency
Norway’s $1.16 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the Government Pension Fund Global, has been ranked second on the list of the most transparent funds according to the Global Pension Transparency Benchmark (GPTB).
But now it says it has its eye on the top slot in terms of transparency.
The GPTB, which was launched in February 2021, measures the transparency of disclosures of 15 pension systems across the value-generating measures of cost, governance, performance and responsible investing.
Ranking countries on public disclosures of key value-generation elements for the five largest pension fund organisations within each country, the GPTB has revealed the scores of the 75 underlying funds from those countries for the first time.
The Government Pension Fund Global, often referred to as the ‘Oil Fund’ as it derives its financial backing from the country’s oil industry, is managed by Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), a part of Norway’s central bank and its Ministry of Finance.
Carine Smith Ihenacho, chief governance and compliance officer at NBIM, told AsianInvestor that while her team is pleased with result of the benchmarking, it still falls short of their goal to "be the most transparent fund in the world”.
“The Government Pension Fund Global is owned by the Norwegian people and our mission is to create and safeguard wealth for future generations. Being transparent in what we do is therefore of utmost importance to us and it is expected by our owners,” said Ihenacho.
NBIM has worked hard for a long time to maintain transparency in its management of Norway’s wealth keeping its member’ and the general public updated with information about its holdings, performance and responsible investment.
“Our expectations to the companies we own are published and accessible to everyone through our 17 different Expectation Documents,” said Ihenacho.
In its latest initiative, NBIM has enhanced its members' ability to vote in general assemblies.
“We now make our voting public five days prior to the assembly in order to create transparency and predictability in our actions. We view this as an important step towards becoming even more transparent,” she said.
CANADIAN FUNDS LEAD
Three Canadian pension funds were featured in the top five of the best overall funds, according to the GPTB benchmark. Canada also topped the country list in 2022 for the second year in a row.
CPP Investments claimed number one spot on the list of the most transparent funds, with fellow Canadian’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP) and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) claiming 3 and 4 spots respectively.
CPP Investments, which manages over $420 billion in assets, emerged with the best score overall and also the best score for governance disclosures.
The Dutch fund, Stichting Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW), topped the list for cost; CalPERS for performance; and Sweden’s AP4 was the best fund for transparency of disclosures related to responsible investing.
According to the GPTB report, there is plenty of evidence that a lack of transparency has negative consequences for relationships and organisations of all types, whether they be individuals, governments, corporations, or pension funds.
“Transparency is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Congratulations to the top-ranking funds on the GPTB for leading the way on transparency and communication quality,” said Mike Heale head of business development at CEM Benchmarking.
Amanda White, editor of Top1000funds.com, said the decision to reveal the scores of the underlying funds for the first time this year was to emphasise the importance of clarity and openness in pension fund disclosures.
“We think transparency of these factors – cost, governance, performance and responsible investing - is important to drive improvement of outcomes for pension funds around the world,” said White.