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Grants / Projects we are funding

Common Wealth – Just capital: rewiring asset management to drive systemic change

Grant details


Awarded on:04/01/2021

Duration:12 months


Area of interest

Systems change

Themes covered

New economics

Who really controls the economy, where is power concentrated? Understanding the role of large asset managers in the shaping of our economic system is key to designing a new fairer system and reversing an entrenched democratic deficit

What is the issue?

The power of asset management over the economy has rapidly expanded since the 2008 Financial Crisis; early indications suggest the effects of Covid-19 will accelerate this trend. The result of this expansion has been the concentration of firms, ownership and influence in the economy. A small suite of vast management firms now control a growing proportion of shareholder power, with leading firms overwhelmingly representing the largest registered shareholders in major corporations worldwide. Critically, these shares are purchased with beneficiaries’ money, but beneficiaries have little or no say over the use of their capital, whether in allocation or voting.

This deep democratic deficit – with economic power increasingly concentrated and unaccountable – risks undermining our ability to secure a sustainable and equitable future. This project will examine the rise of the asset management industry in the UK, its consequences for both climate and economic justice, and set out an agenda for comprehensive and deep transformation of the sector.

What will the project try to achieve?

The project will explore the meteoric rise of the asset management industry in the UK and its implications for the climate and inequality crisis. In doing so, the project will seek to address four problems that currently inhibit reform: an analysis gap, an awareness gap, a solutions gap, and a strategy gap.

Common Wealth will shine a spotlight on a systemically vital part of the economy – the asset management industry – raising awareness among key stakeholders of the sector’s importance in driving the climate emergency and the need for reform. Building alliances with business, the media, civil society organisations and the new economy movement, the project will culminate in a fresh policy agenda for transforming asset management and the corporate form – two core economic institutions at the heart of current dysfunction of our economic settlement.

Who might be interested in this project?

National politicians, government officials, finance and climate-focused organisations and media, civil society organisations, social justice organisations and the new economy movement, business groups, and think tanks.