Case study

Changes to the Guardians’ global voting practices

We aim to promote good corporate governance in the markets in which we invest. One lever we may use as a shareholder to help achieve this is to exercise our voting rights locally and globally across the Fund’s segregated equity portfolio. This is important in maintaining oversight of directors, boards and company policies.

In 2017/18 we undertook a review of our global voting policy, practice and execution. This involved two parts:

  • Part One: improving the influence of our voting in driving change; identification and oversight of material items; and the ability to better instruct and communicate voting intentions.
  • Part Two: automated and traceable voting execution and reporting; overcoming voting barriers; quality and consistency of voting between markets; reducing splitvoting and reducing the risk of failed votes.

Following the review, we made the decision to develop a customised internal voting policy, and return voting and execution to a proxy voting agency tasked with voting on our behalf (where previously we had relied on our investment managers). Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) was selected to undertake this work on our behalf, effective as of April 2018.

ISS follows the Guardians’ customised internal voting policy when voting on our overseas equity holdings. Our process for making voting decisions for New Zealand companies is slightly different. They are informed by the NZ Corporate Governance Forum’s guidelines, the recommendations of our New Zealand listed active equity managers, as well as the advice of our proxy voting agent. We instruct voting on our shares in New Zealand companies directly.

The Guardians’ full global voting policy & guidelines is available to view on our website.

Over 2018/19 we plan to enhance the level of information and reporting we provide about our voting activity (globally and in New Zealand) on our website.

 

VOTING STATISTICS 2017/18

The table below shows how we exercised our voting rights over the period under review.

 
Meetings
Proposals
% For
% Against
% Abstain/DNV*

Global** H1

1,313

10,671

88 10 2

Global H2

5,314

59,355

84 12 4

New Zealand H1

55

226

92 8 0

New Zealand H2

7 25 100 0 0

* DNV = Did not vote.
** Does not include one portfolio managed by LSV. Please see here.

H1 = 1 July - 31 December 2017

H2 = 1 January - 30 June 2018

The main resolutions that we voted against, both in New Zealand as well as globally, were those related to director elections, routine business and non-salary compensation.