ESG initiative of the year: DWS' pension scheme's pooled fund investments

Partnering with proxy voting specialist Minerva, and the platform provider AMX, DWS has announced the launch of a new pooled fund that provides a mechanism for investors to have their say in how their shareholders' rights are exercised.

Shalin BhagwanStructured as a tax-transparent Irish UCITS CCF fund the pooled fund, or Investor Stewardship Service, will draw on DWS' index replication capabilities as its underlying investment approach in order to deliver a passively managed, climate-aware strategy focusing on developed market global equities.

The unique aspect of the pooled fund is how the voting preferences of each investor are applied. Minerva Analytics VotePlus platform contributes in two ways to the strategy. Firstly it provides the pooled fund with a series of fully bespoke voting policies reflecting the latest good practice as well as DWS's own expert insights. Secondly, it fully automates reconciliation between the fund's ownership records and the underlying portfolio share data to ensure that the directed votes are applied in strict proportion.

In addition clients can opt-in to specific custom policy positions, for example, energy transition considerations, or indeed their very own bespoke voting policy.

"Most smaller pension funds invest in global equities through pooled index funds with no ability to influence voting policies," said Shalin Bhagwan, head of UK Pensions Advisory and EMEA Consultants at DWS. The UK Department for Work and Pensions recently instituted a taskforce to look into barriers preventing this from happening. This award does more than just recognise DWS and our partners; it recognises the increasing importance of active stewardship for all pension funds irrespective of their size."

One Environmental Finance Sustainable Investment Awards judge described it as a "hugely important imitative to unlock the power of member voting and voice".