David’s work is closely related to the debate about the responsibilities of companies beyond that of making a profit. He would argue that if a company’s duty is to serve its shareholders within the law, then many positions in this debate can be reconciled. First because the law, at least in the UK, demands that companies pay due regard to their stakeholders. Second because company shares are typically owned by long term collective investment vehicles representing hundreds of millions of savers.
A practical manifestation of these ideas can be seen in Hermes Equity Ownership Service, which David founded with Colin Melvin. The influence of these ideas on the “real world” is perhaps best illustrated in the overwhelming support given by the investment community to the Paris Climate Agreement. $25 trillion of investors advocated for a stronger agreement than was finally passed. None opposed it. In the three years leading up to Paris, David chaired UN Environment’s Finance Initiative which, inter alia, was involved in organising this investor voice.