David Pitt-Watson is a Scottish business and social entrepreneur and author. He is an Executive Fellow at London Business School, and is active in various initiatives to promote responsible investment including co-chairing the UNEP Finance Initiative, and leading the Royal Society of Arts Tomorrow's Investor Project. He is a Treasurer of Oxfam, and a board member of NESTA, ICGN, and Oxford Analytica. He is recognised globally as a leading thinker and practitioner in the field of responsible investment and business practice.
Pitt-Watson was educated at Bearsden Academy and Aberdeen Grammar School and then at Queen's College, Oxford where he studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He went on to win a scholarship from the Rotary Foundation to Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where he graduated with an MA and MBA in 1980.
After short periods of work at 3i and McKinsey Pitt-Watson helped establish and was ultimately managing director of Braxton Associates Limited. He worked there for 17 years during which time it was bought by Deloitte and became Deloitte Consulting. Pitt-Watson was a partner at Deloitte for 12 years advising company boards and international agencies on strategy and competitiveness.
He left that position in 1997 to become Assistant General Secretary of the Labour Party, a post he held for two years before joining Hermes Fund Managers as commercial director of their newly formed shareholder activist funds.
These funds, known as the Focus Funds, grew to be the largest of their kind in Europe. David became head of the funds and a director of Hermes in 2004, where he founded Hermes Equity Ownership Service, a service to pension funds which aims to ensure that shares they own are used to promote good management practice and sustainable investment. HEOS advises on over £125bn worth of assets. The Focus Funds and HEOS established Hermes as a global leader in the field of Responsible Investment. Hermes interventions in companies have led to the successful turnaround of some of the country's largest companies.
For over twenty years he has advised Labour Party politicians, including Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, on issues of industrial and financial policy, corporate governance and financial market regulation. He has also advised the current government and was a member of the cross-party Future of Banking Commission, and the Sharman Commission relating to the use of the Going Concern declaration.
He is the author of The Hermes Principles, which lays out the expectations of Hermes of the companies in which it invests, and form the rationale for Hermes interventions in underperforming companies.
He also co-authored The New Capitalists with Stephen Davis and Jon Lukomnik, which describes how structures of corporate governance can help ensure companies work in the interest of the millions of individuals who own their shares. It was published in November 2006 by Harvard Business School Press and translated into five languages. He also co-authored with Carol Scott Leonard, Privatisation and Transition in Russia in the early 1990s, based on his experience as a strategic advisor to the world bank.
Charity work and public service
David is a trustee and treasurer of Oxfam GB since 2011. He has been closely involved in helping establish Oxfam's Enterprise Development Programme. He chairs the UN Environment Programme's Finance Initiative, (www.unepfi.org) a unique partnership between the UN and over 200 financed institutions. Its aim is to identify, promote and realise best sustainability practices within the finance industry. He is a trustee of the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Speakers' Corner Trust which he chairs.
At the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (The RSA) he established the Tomorrow's Investor programme.It has been influential in raising the debate and achieving a consensus for reform to improve the structures, costs and transparency of pensions in Britain.
In February 2000 he helped initiate and served on the Co-operative Commission (also known as the Monks Commission after its Chair, John Monks), established by Tony Blair, to help revive the fortunes of the UK Co-operative movement.
- Labour Party Press Release Monday, 10 March 2008 (Microsoft Word document)
- Hermes Equity Ownership Service – Overview
- BBC News – Labour's general secretary named
- Guardian.co.uk – Labour cash crisis could bankrupt party leaders
- "The Hermes Principle" – Hermes Fund Managers Limited
- "New Capitalists" – Harvard Business School Press
- Institute for Public Policy Research – Trustee profile
- Speakers' Corner Trust – Trustee profile
- The RSA Events – Tomorrow's Investor
- List of Councillors for Westminster City Council
- Science Direct – "Eastern Europe: Commercial opportunity or illusion?"
- Davis, Stephen; Lukomnik, Jon; Pitt-Watson, David (2006). The New Capitalists: How Citizen Investors are Reshaping the Corporate Agenda. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. ISBN 1-4221-0101-0