The Marathon Club was launched following the 2004 competition run by USS and Hewitt, Bacon and Woodrow with support from FTfm entitled “Managing pension funds as if the long-term really did matter”. The competition provoked new thinking and a debate about what fund managers could do, but also raised important challenges for trustees and their investment consultants.

The challenge was also highlighted by the Myners report and the Treasury’s post-Myners review which discussed issues such as investment time horizons and shareholder activism. The conclusions drawn were that it would be unlikely that funds could adopt a more long-term, responsible and active investment approach with existing governance and investment decision-making frameworks.

Aims and objectives

The overall goal of the Club was to stimulate pension funds, endowments and other institutional investors (“Institutional Funds”) and their agents to be more long-term in their thinking and actions, encouraging more emphasis on being responsible and active owners with a view to increasing knowledge about how their investment strategy and process could improve the long term financial and qualitative buying power of fund beneficiaries.

The Club published materials to provide guidance to trustees and consultants on how they could foster a more long term and responsible approach to investment.  It also encouraged the continuous professional development of trustees, investment consultants and other players to better promote the principles of Long-Term Long-Only (LTLO) investment.

The 18 members of the Club were institutional fund trustees, senior executives or senior specialists who had a proven track-record in playing a relevant leadership role in public and private institutional funds and endowments.

The Marathon Club’s ‘Guidance Note for Long Term Investing and Trustee Briefing on ‘Responsible Ownership for the Long Term’ plus other resources provided by the Club are available below.

Press release: PRI welcomes donation from The Marathon Club

LONDON, 13 May 2013

The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Initiative today welcomed the donation of £38,000 from The Marathon Club. The donation will support the PRI’s newly established Research & Public Policy work stream, which will support signatories to identify and overcome barriers that currently prevent financial markets from functioning more sustainably.

The Marathon Club, which was formally wound down this month, was a collaboration of 18 investment organisations representing combined funds under management in excess of £170 billion. It was formed in 2004 to stimulate pension funds, endowments and other institutional investors and their agents to be more long-term in their thinking and behaviour, and to encourage more emphasis on being responsible, active owners. The majority of its members are now signatories to the PRI and many of its goals were closely aligned with those of the PRI Initiative.

“The Marathon Club has done an excellent job in developing and publishing guidance for long term investing with the support of its members. That job needs to continue, and the work to promote long term responsible investing needs to move on in a broader capacity. The PRI offers an exciting opportunity to do just that and we are happy to pass on the baton,” said Peter Scales, Chairman of The Marathon Club.

“The PRI is extremely grateful for the Club’s financial contribution,” said James Gifford, Executive Director of the PRI. “It will significantly increase our ability to support signatories to address some of the systemic barriers that hamper efforts to make capital markets more sustainable, including short-termism, misaligned incentives and environmental and social externalities.”

In February, the PRI published a consultation paper providing an overview of seven proposed project areas that its new Research & Public Policy work stream might consider. Feedback from the consultation will determine the initial areas of focus for the coming year.