REF 2021 case study summaries
Increasing transparency of costs and fees in asset management to improve pension fund performance
To address pension fund management issues that have manifested over the past decade, including a focus on the lack of transparency in the costs associated with pension fund management, which prevents fund trustees’ from making the best or optimal investment decisions.
Dr Clacher’s research has enabled the development of a new industry standard for institutional investment cost data, that transforms how UK pension fund trustees make decisions when investing pension fund assets. As a member of the Institutional Disclosure Working Group of the Financial Conduct Authority, Dr Clacher was responsible for the design of a User Template for the collection and reporting of standardised and aggregated costs and fees.
The template was accepted by the Financial Conduct Authority and subsequently adopted by the Cost and Transparency Initiative of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association as the industry standard. The standard has a broad range of benefits for the pensions industry. An industry expert confirms that Clacher’s research contributed to overall market cost savings of approximately £3bn in 2018/19. These and future savings compound and persist and are estimated to reach £2tn over the next 35 years through a combination of cost savings and improved decision-making by trustees.
Helping unemployed people into employment by engaging employers
Unemployment holds costs to society that are more than just financial. As well as economic implications, the losses to individuals, both in terms of income and health can’t be understated. Traditional employability programmes have fallen short of effectively engaging employers. Dr Jo Ingold’s research looks to overcome the barriers and pinpoint the enablers of their engagement.
The research comprised three major projects that looked at SME engagement with employability programmes, programme delivery and a comparative study with Denmark.
The projects recognised employer engagement as being central to the success of programmes designed to get the unemployed back into work. Dr Ingold advanced the understanding of employer engagement across four dimensions:
- involvement of employers in policymaking
- competition vs collaboration between providers of employability programmes
- tailored and appropriate services for disadvantaged groups
- benefit conditionality and how the requirements placed on jobseekers are viewed and affect employers
Supporting unemployed people to get jobs has benefits not only to individuals but to wider society and the UK economy. This is true in times of labour market buoyancy but especially in times of crisis, such as that resulting from the global coronavirus pandemic. The research has led to improved service provision by the employability service industry, including large service providers such as Serco and Public Health England, as well as local authorities. It has facilitated the adoption of best practices across the industry and supported leading professional bodies in providing services and training across all sectors. Significantly changing practitioners’ approaches has enhanced professionalization of the sector and supported strategies to influence policymakers.
Mind the gap: regional disparities in business funding
To identify and measure the nature and extent of financing gaps faced by businesses in the UK regions and business type. To encourage sustainable growth, innovation and prosperity in businesses in the UK regions.
A longitudinal study of UK the business population over the last 25 years helped map the course of businesses from start-up and beyond. This highlighted the impact on growth caused by a lack of available risk finance for innovation and capital investment.
Professor Nick Wilson’s findings shaped government policy. The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund of £400 million and the Midlands Engine Investment Fund of £250 million are just two of the initiatives the government introduced to redress the imbalance of funding across regions. Wilson highlights the importance of ensuring that opportunities for business investment are equal across the UK to guarantee the economic health of the nation. His research led to significant policy changes to enable businesses across the UK to level up, gain access to finance and to grow.
Helping Ericsson AB to create new businesses: enabling corporate innovation
To develop new types of businesses that go beyond technology giant Ericsson's traditional core business of mobile networks, by exploring opportunities such as the Internet of Things, digital manufacturing, connected and autonomous vehicles and edge computing.
A collaborative research project led by Professor Krsto Pandza, with Ericsson’s dedicated business unit with 3,600 employees and net sales of £190m in 2019, investigating three main topics that addressed:
- introducing complex new products
- understanding collaborative networks and the role of managers in entrepreneurial ventures
- creating emerging business initiatives
Professor Pandza’s findings have shaped the development of corporate innovation at Ericsson. This includes integrating technology, strengthening corporate entrepreneurship and changing processes to improve the diversity and knowledge required to carry out emerging business initiatives. The research has also resulted in the delivery of a Massive Online Open Course and a tailored Executive Education programme for B Braun Medical Limited.