The UK Asset Owner Roundtable (which includes Scottish Widows and the Church of England Pensions Board) has raised concerns around the voting records of large asset managers. Large asset managers are perceived to be putting short-term interests above the long-term interests of asset owners and the economy. The Brunel Pension Partnership (a UK local government pension pool of £35Bn) has invited the roundtable to convene with the largest asset owners to “support constructive dialogue” on proxy voting policies.
UK asset owners are concerned that 'despite unequivocal warnings from the United Nations and the IPCC of the risks of delayed action on climate change, that short-term interests are trumping long-term interests of pension funds'. This comes as the largest European Oil & Gas firms are to meet for their annual meetings this month, (May 23rd for Shell & May 26th for Total Energies). ICCR last month blogged about a report published by ShareAction examining the largest US asset owners and their various proxy voting policies (of funds) on climate and ESG proposals. Out of the 68 funds assessed, the largest two, BlackRock and Vanguard, came 62nd and 65th respectively, and the average support for environmental resolutions by the four largest managers fell last year, as shown in the chart below.
What this means for FBAOs is that continued scrutiny of proxy voting policies of your asset manager is essential in managing an FCI portfolio. We recommend engagement with asset managers to compare their voting records with the proxy policies listed in your investment policies and guidelines.