Fiduciary Duty, Statute, and Pension Fund Governance: The Search for a Shared Conception of Sustainable Investment

29 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2011

See all articles by Gordon L. Clark

Gordon L. Clark

Oxford University - Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment

Date Written: October 17, 2011

Abstract

Fiduciary duty is the golden rule ‘regulating’ the relationship between trustees and beneficiaries. In principle, it regulates behaviour by pre-empting those actions that would harm the interests of beneficiaries while promoting duties of care consistent with the interests of those that stand to gain from well-intentioned and responsible decision-making. But, in many respects, fiduciary duty is a chimera: it looks to convention rather than forward to innovation in investment management. As such, governance policies and practice must provide the instruments that simple recipes of fiduciary duty are ill-equipped to provide. In this paper, I argue that the design and governance of investment management institutions is, actually, more important than honouring the principle fiduciary duty which, in the context of Anglo-American statute, is increasingly empty. In doing so, I re-read the classic cases that define the principle while identifying the problems which the golden rule has been unable to resolve. This is the back-drop for reconsidering the virtues or otherwise of a governance-focused regulatory regimes. In the penultimate section of the paper I focus on the mechanisms currently used to cultivate a regulatory regime that is at once long-term oriented and responsive to the climate change challenge that confronts humanity.

Keywords: Fiduciary duty, common law, governance, statute, long-term investment

JEL Classification: G23, G38, K42, O16

Suggested Citation

Clark, Gordon L., Fiduciary Duty, Statute, and Pension Fund Governance: The Search for a Shared Conception of Sustainable Investment (October 17, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1945257 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1945257

Gordon L. Clark (Contact Author)

Oxford University - Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment ( email )

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Oxford, OX1 3QY
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+44 1865 285197 (Phone)
+44 1865 285073 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/staff/glclark.html

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