This symposium has already taken place, but you can scroll down to the bottom of this page to download the slides used.

Many thanks to

for hosting:

"Active/Passive - seeing the whole picture; and what does the future of asset management look like?"

If you already know you want to attend


Please click on the button below to secure your place, however: note that the Transparency Task Force is a not-for-profit and whilst the revenues we generate from our symposia are mission-critical to keeping the Transparency Task Force afloat, if the Standard Ticket Price (£245) is genuinely beyond your budget, not to worry - select the Reduced Ticket Price option and pay what you can afford.


Our unusual approach to pricing is because the Transparency Task Force is all about bringing the right people together to collaboratively reform the finance sector, so if there are people that truly want to be involved in our activity that do not have the budget to attend we will not let money get in the way of their participation. 


Of course, if you can afford the Standard Ticket Price please just crack on and use the link below to secure your place, we desperately need all the support we can get !


Payment can be made through credit card or invoice.

But if you want to know more...

If you haven't been to a Transparency Symposium before you can use the link below to read some testimonials:

When and where is the symposium?

Registration is at 10:30 for an 11:00 start; ending at 17:00, followed by networking with drinks and nibbles through to 18:00; on Wednesday 20th March at



24A St John St, Clerkenwell  
London EC1M 4AY

Please click on the button below to secure your place, however: note that the Transparency Task Force is a not-for-profit and whilst the revenues we generate from our symposia are mission-critical to keeping the Transparency Task Force afloat, if the Standard Ticket Price (£245) is genuinely beyond your budget, not to worry - select the Reduced Ticket Price option and pay what you can afford.


Of course, if you can afford the Standard Ticket Price please just crack on and use the link below to secure your place, we desperately need all the support we can get!

Why are we running this symposium?


This Transparency Symposium is an important thought leadership event dedicated to discussing and debating the many facets of the active/passive debate, travelling well beyond just the costs dimension. We will also be looking at the fundamentals driving rapid and sometimes turbulent change in the asset management sector and asking:


“What does the future of asset management look like?”


We saw at our last Transparency Symposium on the active/passive debate just how strong the views are on both sides. This symposium will help to constructively inform, educate and share insights on all the important factors around this extremely interesting but often very divisive subject. 


We hope to provide an opportunity for everybody to develop a better-informed and less tribalistic view on the issues.


For some, the active/passive debate is already over. They look to the actual average after-cost outcomes during the past decade and argue that because of the very low cost of passive strategies and the enhanced availability of technology to improve “smart” passive strategies, the excess return required to choose active over passive is high; too high to rationally select active management.


There can be no doubt that, all else being equal, an investment solution with lower costs will deliver better outcomes to the investor; and on that basis passive investing has a material advantage over active management. This alone goes a long way to explain the profound progress that passive has been making in terms of grabbing market share since the mid-seventies.


But is the evidence actually as conclusive as that?


Should we be mindful of the idea that “whenever everyone is certain of one thing, to beware that one thing.” As part of the market seem to have shifted into near unanimous certainty that passive is superior to active, perhaps there is wisdom in rethinking what the long-term consequence of that view might be; and whether that view is fundamentally correct in the first place.


Many would argue very strongly that the term “all else being equal” is totally inappropriate when it comes to comparing and contrasting the many points of difference between active and passive investing. The pro-actives would talk about the foolishness of falling into the trap of comparing apples with pears and say “there’s much more to it than just costs…”


Our symposium will facilitate an intelligent debate to explore the many pros and cons between active and passive, thereby bringing into focus the points that really matter to facilitate better decision-making by advisors and those they advise.


We’ll be looking at many dimensions of this complex and nuanced topic, including:


  • Are the inherent cost advantages of passive completely beyond dispute? Does passive win the value-for-money debate hands-down? Is it game over for active management because high operating costs are a troublesome ball and chain around their net performance outcomes?


  • Or, regardless of any cost differential, is active the best way to go anyway because of the severe risk of climate change catastrophe that we are all facing? As many schoolchildren put it recently, “We don’t have a planet B”. Perhaps through careful and thoughtful stock selection, active management is much better equipped to influence corporate governance; and is therefore better suited to building a more progressive society as we hopefully transition from a more planet-friendly shareholder primacy economy to a stakeholder primacy economy?


  • Will passive always harness the awesome power of technology more effectively than active?...and if so, is it a foregone conclusion that technology, particularly AI will dominate the landscape moving forward? Will algorithms always trump creativity, high-conviction and investment artisanship?


  • Are there systemic risks associated with the more opaque aspects of passives that most people are blind to? For example, would clearing the opacity around the role and functionality of Authorised Participants reveal a significant amount of phantom liquidity? …and if so, could a run of large scale redemptions, perhaps triggered by a substantial market movement, destabilise ETFs and jeopardise the integrity of the world’s capital markets?


  • Is the ad valorem fee model becoming obsolete?... and if so, are there any passive solutions that can match the well-engineered performance fee arrangements that are now gaining traction in the active management space?Such arrangements claim to better-align with client interests. Do they?...and if so, how significant are they in the context of the active/passive debate?


  • Given the recent passing of the investment legend Jack Bogle, now is a good time to respectfully review, reflect on and re-evaluate his breakthrough thinking. If Jack Bogle was right in the past, is his vision of low-cost investing the best vision for the future, once we take everything into account?


  • Is it correct that successful active funds eventually and inevitably become a victim of their own success, on the basis that "you can't scale skill?" Does alpha always morph into beta eventually; and if so does that mean sustainable superior net performance is mathematically very unlikely?


  • How will the momentum towards greater transparency on costs effect the market dynamic? Will the impact of the Institutional Disclosure Working Group and its subsequent entity, the Cost Transparency Initiative accelerate the shift towards passive? Is there a risk that the focus on moving towards low-cost takes us further away from properly appreciating the importance of risk and performance; and thereby takes us further away from value for money?


  • Is all the regulatory activity now taking place the wake-up call the Active Sector has needed to force long-overdue change? What potential impact might the Competition & Markets Authority’s Final Report have on active/passive investment selection decisions moving forward? How might the Financial Conduct Authority’s new rules about Independent Non-Executives at asset managers play out in practice.


  • Will INEDs be tokenistic gestures towards client-centricity or might they actually realise their potential as consumer champions? …and either way, how will they influence the active/passive debate moving forward?


  • Why do some argue very strongly that the response to the active/passive question should be properly contextualised within an investment philosophy and a statement of investment beliefs? Are there pension schemes that still do not have a carefully considered investment philosophy and statement of investment beliefs?


  • Are there any potential litigation risks for pension scheme trustees in relation to the active/passive question? Have any trustee boards been so casual with their investment decision-making and specifically their record-keeping about their decision-making rationale that they could be accused of failing to look after the interests of their members? Are some pension schemes rather like rudderless boats with skippers that don’t have navigation equipment?


  • For a given level of outperformance, how long must we wait before we can distinguish statistically the performance of an active fund from a passive benchmark? Can successful active managers actually prove their success is due to skill rather than luck? Where are we with the whole Closet Tracker situation? – is it a monster or myth?


Given all these questions is it possible that the active/passive battle isn’t as straightforward and clear-cut as might initially seem? …particularly to those that have been myopically concerned with just costs?


Perhaps it is more of an even “fight” than some might have thought?


This symposium is therefore a “not-to-be-missed event” for those with views on both sides; plus of course asset owners including pension scheme trustees who are keen to avoid an overly simplistic view.


Furthermore, beyond the active/passive debate we will be scanning the horizon to consider the future of the asset management sector as a whole.


That’s important because there is so much change happening within the sector that it seems sensible to seize the opportunity to take stock of what is going on, pause for thought and reflect, reconsider and refocus on what all this change is going to mean.


We’ll be taking a very close look at the forces driving change in the sector and how those forces are shaping its future. The underlying question the event will seek to answer is:


“What will the asset management industry look like

5 years from now, and why?”

Please click on the button below to secure your place, however: note that if the Standard Ticket Price (£245) is genuinely beyond your budget, not to worry - select the Reduced Ticket Price option and pay what you can afford.

What's the format going to be?


To provide the maximum opportunity for all delegates to get fully involved we have structured the event around:

  • Presentations by key stakeholders
  • A series of talks by those with an opinion or two
  • A discussion and debate session

As such, the symposium is ideally suited to those who want to be immersed in one of the most complex, interesting and divisive topics in the investment world.

Here's the programme thus far*



Registration, refreshments and networking.



Welcome to the symposium by David Masters, Director at Lansons



Andy Agathangelou to introduce the Transparency Task Force and set the scene for the event, explaining the importance of the topic to many big decisions being made by the retail and the institutional market; particularly pension schemes



Presentation with facilitated Q&A,  by

Helen Thomas, aka Blonde Money.


Helen has produced some very interesting research looking at ETFs; a topic that IOSCO has explored, although has yet to publish any firm findings.


Overall, Helen’s argument is that the role of Authorised Participants has created a significant amount of ‘phantom liquidity’, and that the opacity surrounding Authorised Participants has only exacerbated the situation. The hypothesis is that whilst ETFs have provided many benefits, the concerns would come to a head if there was a wave of large scale redemptions (perhaps triggered by a substantial market movement).


Helen’s session seeks to look beyond the headlines of ETFs, and the extent to which they may pose a threat to capital markets; and of so what can be done about it. 


Please get in touch if you strongly support or oppose Helen's view.



Presentation with facilitated Q&A, by 

Dan Brocklebank,

UK Director, Orbis Investments



Presentation with facilitated Q&A, by 

Clive Waller,

Managing Director, CWC Research; and Chairman, The Investment Network



Presentation of the Transparency Trophy; a trophy is awarded to a champion of transparency and finance reform at each of our symposia



Lunch and networking.  



Presentation with facilitated Q&A, by 

Robert Davies, 

Lead Manager and Business Developer for the VT Munro Smart-Beta UK Fund.


The title of Robert's talk is:


"Twenty ways the fund industry bamboozles the public"



Several attendees with strong opinions that they are keen to share will be reflecting on the Active/Passive debate.


Their talks will all begin with words:


“If I had just 10 minutes to comment on the Active/Passive debate, this is what I’d say…”


Each talk will be followed by a facilitated Q&A session. 


The line-up for this part of the programme features the following, so far:


 - Adrian Tupper, Consultant, Supervisor and Counsellor, Adrian Tupper


 - Mike Barrett, Consulting Director, the lang cat


 - Graham Boyd, CEO & Founder, Evolutesix


 - Sital Cheema, Principal, Jaanu Consulting


 - Tomas Carruthers, Chief Executive, Project Heather


 - Mark Falcon, Director, Zephyre



Refreshments and further networking



The Great Big Open Debate; where all attendees, speakers and panellists will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the key issues raised by the symposium and ponder on what the key conclusions are. Is there going to be any consensus?


Also, we will be tackling the "elephant in the room" question,  

"What is the future of asset management?"



Further networking; with drinks and nibbles.



Final close


*Detail of the programme will continuously evolve and is therefore subject to change



Who shouldn't miss this symposium?


This symposium is going to bravely attempt to deal with questions of immense importance to the retail and institutional market; so in many ways it's a not-to-be missed event for anybody that has an interest in the world of investments.


We're expecting it to be a very stimulating, engaging and thought-provoking session. 


On that basis, this event will be especially valuable to:

  • Pensions Policymakers and Regulators; UK and overseas
  • Pension scheme trustees; professional and lay
  • Parliamentarians with an interest in pensions and investments
  • Senior representatives of the investment consulting, fiduciary management, asset management and pensions Trade Bodies, Professional Associations and Standards Boards
  • Pensions Thought Leaders
  • Risk management professionals
  • Academics and researchers in governance, stewardship, ethics, conduct and compliance in the investment and pensions space
  • Those with a strong interest in ESG, responsible investing and climate change
  • Investment and Pensions Compliance and Conduct enforcement professionals
  • Pensions Consultants - DB and DC
  • Investment Consultants  
  • Pension Providers including MasterTrusts
  • Members of Independent Governance Committees
  • Think Tanks and Civil Society Groups with an interest in pensions and investment policymaking
  • The Investment and Pensions Press in the UK and overseas
  • ...and more!

Bios of key participants

provided thus far*

Helen Thomas CFA,




Helen Thomas CFA has worked in financial markets for over 17 years. She founded her own macroeconomic consulting firm, BlondeMoney, in 2017. Her team works out of offices in Oxford and London, and provides expert analysis on financial markets and politics.

Helen Thomas


Before that she was a Partner at a Global Macro hedge fund and Head of Currency Alpha for State Street Global Advisors. She started her career in Foreign Exchange at Merrill Lynch before going on to work for Societe Generale and SEB. She has also worked in politics, as an adviser to former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne during the financial crisis.


She is a CFA Charterholder and holds a degree in probably the least practical combination of subjects: Philosophy, Politics and Economics which she gained from Oxford University.


She is a Board Member of CFA UK where she is responsible for their sub-committee on the Value of the Investment Profession.


She was lead researcher on the book “Masters of Nothing” by the MPs Matthew Hancock and Nadhim Zahawi, which looked at how human behaviour caused the financial crisis and how to avoid it happening again.


She is a keen mentor, both formally and informally – such as helping a Chinese entrepreneur who wanted to open a teashop as part of Goldman’s 10,000 Women initiative. Hell does indeed hath a special place for those who lift up the ladder from those advancing from below (to misquote Madeleine Albright).

Mark Falcon,




Mark is founder of Zephyre, a regulatory strategy advisory firm focusing on financial services, electronic communications, and technology. Zephyre is acting as an expert adviser on multiple complex EU and UK antitrust and regulatory cases, working in partnership with other leading advisory firms.


Mark is also a Strategic Policy Adviser to Which?, the UK consumer body; Imperial College Business School Associate Faculty member; International Payments Regulation Forum Board Adviser; techUK Open Banking and Payments Working Group Co-Chair; and Transparency Taskforce Ambassador.


Mark was previously an Executive Director at the UK Payment Systems Regulator, responsible for regulatory policy & strategy, Head of Economic Regulation/Chief Economist at Three/CK Hutchison, the largest foreign direct investor in the UK, and Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Treasury Committee. Mark also helped to create Frontier Economics, Europe’s largest economic consultancy, establishing Frontier’s financial services practice.

Sital Cheema,
Sustainability Investment Consultant,
Jaanu Consulting

Sital has15 years of investment experience across a broad range of disciplines including ESG and Climate Change Specialist, Chair of Global Thought Leadership Forum, institutional DB and DC business development, building strong investment consultant / client relationships as well as researching fund managers and monitoring their ongoing performance via due diligence.


Sital is responsible for publications, research and thought leadership, trustee training and advising institutional clients on how to genuinely integrate ESG into their overall investment strategy and underlying portfolios.


She speaks at conferences, sits on discussion panels and drives regulation forward through government consultation and draft reviews of new legislation.


In March 2019, she was appointed Steering Group Member to provide technical expertise on the BSI's Sustainability Investment Management Standards Project to develop PAS 7341.


Sital is an advocate of enhanced transparency of both physical and transition risks associated with climate change. Her ambition is to encourage a collaborative standardised approach leveraging the existing TCFD framework, Cambridge Impact Framework, ClimateWise Physical and Transition Risk Frameworks and SASB's model from the stock level upwards.


Transparency Task Force Ambassador (February 2019)


Member of the Sustainable Finance Network.

Mike Barrett,

Consulting Director,

the lang cat


Mike is consulting director, and sole-proprietor of the lang cat Isle of Wight office. A driver and survivor of platform mergers, migrations and RDR he held a number of senior roles at Skandia and Old Mutual Wealth.


He is now working with platforms, advisers, banks and asset managers to help them create and communicate in a way that is a little less corporate and a little more human.

Adrian Tupper,

Consultant, Supervisor and Counsellor,

Adrian Tupper


Adrian graduated in electronic engineering in 1984 but soon moved to work for James Capel & Co in the City in its IT function. In 1987 Adrian joined James Capel's (later HSBC's) Quantitative Techniques business in Edinburgh, specialising in index fund advisory services, indices and market data. During the 1990s, Adrian was responsible for creating and maintaining index investments worth over £10bn, including some major pension fund clients and collective funds such as those administered by HSBC Asset Management.


Adrian also developed indices for smaller companies and in what became the smart beta sector, such as fundamentally weighted indices and low volatility indices. When the business transferred to Euromoney Institutional Investor plc in 2013, Adrian led the R&D function and promoted the Indices business at conferences and meetings globally. 


After Euromoney pulled out of the Indices business in 2018, Adrian, already a qualified counsellor, has been spending time in private practice. He also chairs the investment function at the Scottish Episcopal Church and takes a special interest in responsible investing, and where he is working on a consultancy proposition.


Adrian runs the blog.

Graham Boyd,

CEO & Founder,



Graham has spent a decade looking at how to reinvent business, starting with a blank sheet of paper.


His original background is as an academic in theoretical particle physics research, followed by a management career with Procter and Gamble, so he brings an unusual perspective to corporate governance.


His key conclusion is that we need to add to changes in regulation changes in who has a voice and voting power in general meeting decisions.

Andy Agathangelou FRSA,

Founding Chair,

Transparency Task Force


Andy will be Chairing the Symposium. His overall objective is to galvanise support for the idea that greater transparency in financial services can drive positive, progressive and purposeful reform.


Andy formed the Transparency Task Force following a meeting he led at Senate House, University of London on 6th May 2015. The meeting was the about the trust deficit that is impacting financial services and how harnessing the transformational power of transparency can drive the change that is needed.


That meeting set off a chain of events that led directly to the creation of the collaborative, campaigning community that is the Transparency Task Force.


Our activity is built on the idea that 'Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant' and our guiding "North Star" question is "what is best for the consumer?"


Since 6th May 2015 Andy has recruited, organised and mobilised over 400 volunteers around the world into 21 Special Interest Groups, namely:


 - Market Integrity

 - Foreign Exchange


 - Pensions 

 - Fintech

 - Communications

 - Banking

 - Financial Planning

 - Anti-Scams


 - Asset Management

 - Financial Stability

 - Global Transparency Index


 - Americas

 - Investment Consulting & Fiduciary Management

 - Compliance / Legal / Audit / Regulatory / Governance / Custodian / Risk Management

 - Hedge Funds

 - Private Equity

 - Whistleblowing


Our 21 SIGs are the 'engine room' of the Transparency Task Force's work. Each Team is focused on a particular set of opacity-related challenges whereby subject-matter experts work together on a voluntary basis to develop and implement strategies to overcome those challenges.


 Andy is also:

  • Chair, the Interoperability Steering Group
  • Governor, Pensions Policy Institute
  • Fellow, the RSA
  • Chair, Pensions BIB,
  • Former Founding Chair, Friends of Auto Enrolment
  • Former Founding Chair, Friends of the Association of Member Nominated Trustees

Please click on the PDF icon below to download the slides that were used at the event.

Slides used at: "Time for Transparency - Active/Passive - seeing the whole picture; and what does the future of asset management look like?"
TS London 20th March.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [6.3 MB]

The Great Divide

You can read the speech by  Andrew G. Haldane, FAcSS (the Bank of England's Chief Economist and Executive Director of Monetary Analysis and Statistics) that he gave on 18th May 2016 at the New City Agenda Annual dinner.


The speech is entitled The Great Divide and it is a first class explanation of why the trust deficit really matters and why it makes sense to try to do something about it.


Please click on the green button to access it; if you're not convinced of its relevance to our initiative, here's part of it:


..."The most important and compelling message the Bank received at the Open Forum came in the first session. The Bank had conducted some polling of perceptions of the financial sector – for example, by asking people what one word best described the future of financial markets. Among the Bank’s usual contacts, including those in the financial sector, the most used word was “regulated”. Many of us will have heard that message from financial insiders concerned about the perils of over-zealous regulators.


For me, the more revealing responses came from the general public, from the customers, rather than the producers, of financial services. The word most used by them when describing financial markets was a rather different one: it was “corrupt”. Not far behind were words like “manipulated”, “self-serving”, “destructive” and “greedy”. I am sure many of you have heard those messages too. They are certainly ones I have encountered frequently on my visits around the country."...


Please click the green button  below to access the full speech. If you need to read another piece first, here it is:


..."At least until recently many economists like me, when faced with this evidence, might have shrugged our shoulders. Social capital had no real role in our models of economic growth, unlike physical capital and human capital. Trust did not butter our parsnips and nor did it enter our production functions.


Recently, however, that orthodoxy has changed and the importance of trust has become clearer.


Evidence has emerged, both micro and macro, to suggest trust may play a crucial role in value creation. At the micro level, there is now ample evidence the degree of trust or social capital within a company contributes positively to its value creation capacity. 


At the macro level, there is now a strong body of evidence, looking across a large range of countries and over long periods of time, that high levels of trust and co-operation are associated with higher economic growth.


Put differently, a lack of trust jeopardises one of finance’s key societal functions – higher growth.


Those social capital effects appear to be particularly potent when it comes to financial decisions. Evidence suggests that a lack of trust leads people to retreat from the stock market and banks and to move towards cash holdings and informal sources of credit, such as payday lenders and loan sharks. That jeopardises the second key benefit of finance to society – improved risk-sharing by households and companies.


So a lack of trust in finance potentially hobbles both economic growth and financial stability.


That lack of trust is the mirror-image of the perception gap between the financial sector and wider society, the Great Divide.


The Great Divide matters because it signals a pronounced and protracted erosion of social capital. It puts finance on notice for losing its social licence. And, unaddressed, that jeopardises future wealth and well-being."...


Please click on the green button to access the full speech. If you're not yet convinced you should, here's a final snippet:


..." As a survey in 2013 of financial professionals found, rather remarkably, that over half believed their competitors engaged in illegal or unethical behaviour.  A smaller, but still high, fraction of 24% believed their own company engaged in such practices. Similar percentages believed their industry did not fulfil its fiduciary function of putting clients’ interests first.

The significance of these findings is not the precise percentages, as striking as these are.


More fundamentally, it is because of what they reveal about finance’s perception of itself, the mirror it holds to the social identity of finance."...


Click onto the button below to access the full speech; you'll be glad you did, it's profoundly thought-provoking for anybody interested in the future of the financial services industry:

If you are not already on the right page and want to read about our major international project to help rebuild trustworthiness and confidence in financial services, click on the orange button below:

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