• To make good Britain’s shortfall of purposeful, long-term companies so that the economy can rise to the challenge of lifting investment, productivity and living standards.
• To benefit all company stakeholders, including shareholders.
• By better serving customers, employees, supply chains and the wider community, to restore lost trust in the capacity of business to create human betterment.
The distinctive contribution of The Purposeful Company
We see our distinctive approach as being the rigorous evaluation of evidence and its practical application to support the development of policy and practice. We bring the best quality research, combined with multi-disciplinary practitioner experience, to develop detailed, evidence based and implementable policy proposals.
We have a strong track record using this capability as a source of influence with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Investor Community so as to assist the design and adoption of practical policy proposals. For example our ideas have been reflected in the 2018 Corporate Governance Code and our paper “ Thoughts for Change” substantially influenced the shape of the FRC”s call for submissions for the revised 2020 Stewardship Code.
Our pioneering work on reshaping the structure and quantum of executive pay is attracting increasing interest in the business and investment community alike. The current focus of our work is on potential reforms to the UK’s stewardship and executive incentive ecosystem the necessary if insufficient condition for wider change, with the next set top policy proposals due in the early Summer of 2020.
The Purposeful Company role in the ecosystem
The Purposeful Company is not the only organisation in the emerging ecosystem pressing for a reset in business priorities – but it is the central one.
The Purposeful Company seeks to work collaboratively across these groups where our authority on evidence and insight on policy can be complementary.
– Collaborative: we work openly with Task Force Members, policymakers and other bodies working in this area to make progress on our shared objective.
– Rigorous: we have combined deep practitioner insight with large-scale academic evidence.
– Broad: change cannot be piecemeal but must be system-wide, involving long term thinking by executives, directors who evaluate them and through the investment chain.
– Challenging: organisation on how to change and endorsing business innovation that works.
The Steering Group of The Purposeful Company oversees the work of The Purposeful Company and is also Chaired by Clare Chapman and Will Hutton.
The views expressed in The Purposeful Company Reports listed on this site are those of the Steering Group having taken input from Task Force members and contributors. The Steering Group are operating in a personal capacity as authors and the views expressed here may not be taken to represent the perspective of their organisations.
While all Task Force and Steering Group members subscribe to the aims and goals of The Purposeful Company, membership of the Task Force cannot be taken to represent an endorsement of every specific policy recommendation.
Purposeful Company Successes so far
Phase 1: Marshalling the Evidence – we began by compiling the world-wide evidence around the impact of companies pursuing long-term, value creating strategies. The results were published in an Interim Report in May 2016, which is still widely regarded as the pathfinder document in the field. The Task Force refined this research into a series of recommendations that helped us to strengthen and deepen our proposals, which resulted in the Policy Report published in February 2017.
Phase 2 – Making Policy Change Happen – given our distinctive policy focus, we have devoted our main resources to using the evidence and influencing:
- The FRC’s Revisions to the Strategic Report Guidance and UK Corporate Governance Code
- Executive pay developments including: the work of the BEIS Committee; the Government’s response and Corporate Governance Green Paper; and institutional investor practice and guidelines on pay
- The FRC’s review of the Stewardship Code
- The BEIS Review of Corporate Insolvency
Over the last two or three years there has begun to be some progress in these area, and while we do not want to over-claim it it is notable that our work has been extensively referenced in the BEIS Committee’s work and the Green Paper, the FRC’s reform work and many of the changes have reflected our proposals. At the very least we have been a strong voice influencing the ambitious changes underway in UK governance. For example:
- Our pay design recommendations were widely referenced in the BEIS Committee’s work and the Corporate Governance Green Paper, and many were reflected in the UK Corporate Governance Code published by the FRC in July 2018. Our research in has been influential in the development of institutional investor guidelines in favour of alternatives to long-term incentive plans, the recommendations of the BEIS Committee, and in supporting practical examples of pay reform, such as RBS and the Weir
- The UK Corporate Governance Code reflected our recommendations for a principles-based code with strong stakeholder orientation and purpose at its heart. Our recommendation for stronger board accountability for pay fairness through the organisation is also reflected in the revised principles and guidance. The Code creates a central role for purpose in corporate
- The Strategic Report guidance reflects a strong focus on the importance of understanding strategic assets, in particular, intangible assets, and reporting on those. The guidance also introduces a core ‘logic’ for reporting starting with purpose which in turn informs strategy, operating model and Key Performance Indicator (KPIs). Purpose is therefore placed at the heart of strategic
- We have consistently called for a proportionate but coherent approach to be developed for large private companies, given their importance to the economy. We were pleased to see the sensible steps taken in this direction through the development of the Wates Principles and Section 172 reporting requirements
- The initial framing of the Stewardship Code consultation reflects our view that an integrated approach must be taken across the investment chain, and also reflects the importance of stewardship being based on activity not just reporting, meaningfully connected to
- There are emerging examples of utility regulators as part of the 2018/19 price control and licence renewal process constitutionally requiring operators to place the customer at the heart of what they do. There is interest in The Purposeful Company’s concept of a ‘public benefit company’ as a way to achieve
- The BEIS consultation on corporate insolvencies and corporate governance includes inquiry into the extent different corporate forms, stronger director duties and better shareholder engagement could play a role in the reduction of high profile corporate failures. The Purposeful Company has input its evidence to demonstrate how alternate corporate forms and structural changes to the investment management chain could contribute where costs and risks are excessively externalised by
Purposeful Company Steering Group members have been prominent spokespeople in the media and BEIS Committee hearings, and have built strong relationships with BEIS, the FRC and Investor bodies, giving the opportunity for our voice to be heard. Steering Group Members have also been involved in FTSE 100 and 250 Boards in actually applying the Purposeful Company policy recommendations to enable the delivery of long- term business value.
Current Priorities 2019/2020
Repurposing the investment chain
• Improving the quality of stewardship looking at the roles of asset owners, asset managers and investment providers, with a focus in the UK on the implementation of the Shareholder Rights Directive and the review of the Stewardship Code. Particular areas of focus will be how to make stewardship meaningful rather than for show, the use of mandates and the role of proxy agencies.
• The impact of asset manager incentives and fee structures on investment behaviour.
• Takeover rules and the role of the market for corporate control in corporate governance.
Pay and pay fairness serving purpose
• Removing barriers to executive pay simplification and reform, working to build consensus.
• Bringing pay fairness to life throughout companies – enhancing the focus on employee pay.
• Pay fairness in the new economy.
Regulatory and corporate law implications of Purpose
• Identifying and removing barriers to purpose in corporate law and tax policy.
• Corporate governance structures to support company purpose.
• The role of alternative corporate forms in supporting purpose.
Longer Term Exploratory Work
• Opening up sources of capital for purposeful companies
• Reshaping public and private pension funds to support purposeful companies.
• Replacing the European Investment Bank.
• Earmarking funds from tax-approved vehicles and exploring tax incentives to promote purpose.