L&G’s Nigel Wilson: ‘We are crowding foreign capital’

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The outgoing chief executive of life insurer and asset manager Legal & General has called for more investments to be made in the UK to boost innovation and economic growth in the country. 

Last year, the company said it had invested more than half of its assets outside the UK.

But Nigel Wilson urged pension funds to look at opportunities in the UK. 

“We're crowding foreign money… We would like more UK investors to co-invest alongside us really in the [defined benefit] space because these are good returns. We would like those doors to lead to more UK doors, not necessarily foreign doors,” he said during a webinar about impact investing hosted by member network Pensions for Purpose today.

“We want the crowd in for the rest of the pension industry in the UK because we're putting our own money into this as well as other money.”

Wilson pointed to L&G’s backing of Sky in partnership NBCUniversal as an example, which represents a significant investment in the creative industry in the UK, given that “20% of all jobs in and around London are in the creative industries”.

He said: “We've got 13 studios already for Sky and NBCUniversal and they're making ‘Wicked’ there at the moment. In fact they're making Wicked [Part 1] and [Part 2] at the same time, it's a huge economy of scale.”

He also argued that “we've got more content in the UK than Hollywood by 2024 and 2025 because there are transformations”, but highlighted the need to scale up investments.

“We've got to reverse that trend by having the confidence to commit capital for the longer term and realising that doors will lead to doors and you can get in different types of equity return and move them around into different types of capital. That whole portfolio effect results in a really good societal outcome.”

Wilson also referred to politics and regulatory red tape as barrier to investments in the UK. This week, Lee Rowley became housing minister for the second time as part of Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle.

“We have to get engaged in policy and regulation. We have to have an impact on that. At times it's very frustrating. We have now seven housing ministers in 15 months right now and it's very challenging to do that.”

Are insurers working hard enough to fight for more investment opportunities in the UK?

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