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Global union leader challenges funds to see big picture

As the G20 meeting looms, Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), told delegates at the Fiduciary Investors Symposium to stop acting as if fiduciary management existed in a bubble.

“We want pension funds to do well, but they have to stop pretending fiduciary management is in a bubble,” she said.

The session was a discussion forum with Colin Tate, chief executive of Conexus Financial, publisher of Top1000funds.com, where Burrow challenged delegates to widen their view.

She said fiduciary management does not take into consideration human and labour rights or sustainable futures.

“It is not a licence to concentrate on short-term returns,” she said. “The real economy disconnect is extraordinary.”

Commenting on the Occupy Wall Street rallies, she said protests won’t stop until people are put back at the centre of sensible politics.

Burrow (pictured), who said 75 per cent of the world’s population does not have a retirement safety net, will present a solution to the G20 this week.

Burrow criticised the G20 for losing its way, saying that the promise to reform the financial sector has failed.

“There are 30 million extra unemployed because of the financial crisis,” she said. “We have the highest unemployment in history right now. Global growth is not enough to provide jobs. We all have a responsibility to do something to drive jobs growth.”

“There is a disconnect between the real economy and the financial economy,” she said.

Burrow said there needs to be global collaboration on the investment in jobs everywhere.

“It may not look the same everywhere, but there has to be global coordination,” she said.

There is $13 trillion in assets under the realm of ITUC via its members, which constitute 175 million workers.

Burrow’s presentation followed Towers Watson’s head of portfolio advisory for the Asia Pacific, Peter Ryan-Kane, who challenged delegates to extend the context of their viewpoint.

“There can’t be asset allocation without a social policy,” he said.


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