4 Apr 2017
Legal & General Investment Management votes against at least one resolution at one in four UK companies in 2016
Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), one of the largest investors in the UK stock market, today released its 2016 Corporate Governance Report revealing that it voted against at least one resolution at 23% of UK companies in 2016, up from 18% in 2015.
Globally LGIM voted against at least one resolution at 56% of companies in the main FTSE World Indices, compared to 52% in 2015.
In total, LGIM had 500 company meetings in 2016, 39% of which were held with companies based outside of the UK. The top five themes discussed were: board composition (e.g. diversity, board refreshment, quality and skills), remuneration, strategy, nomination and succession, and climate change.
Sacha Sadan, Director of Corporate Governance at LGIM, commented: “Active ownership and engagement continues to drive our approach to corporate governance. The strengthening of our voting policies on remuneration, board composition and diversity in 2016 reflects how seriously we take our responsibility to act as stewards and influence change.
“Consistent and ongoing dialogue with companies is fundamental to our active ownership approach, and we engage with companies throughout the year to effectively influence and change behaviours. The corporate governance landscape is continuing to evolve, and our clients, companies, and regulators are increasingly recognising the role LGIM can play as one of the largest global investors1.”
2016 marks the fifth year in a row that LGIM has not abstained when voting in the UK.
The key themes addressed in LGIM’s corporate governance report include:
In 2016 LGIM voted against 118 pay resolutions in the UK and against 14% of companies on just pay alone. Where necessary, LGIM used its vote against individual directors and in 2016 it voted against 18 named directors on pay and 89 individual directors in total, an increase of 82% compared to the previous year.
In its 2016 ‘Mind the Gap!’ report, LGIM expresses concern that the gap between executive pay and that of the workforce has continued to widen. It highlights the steps it has taken to try and improve the link between pay and performance, and to reduce the pay gap between executives and the wider workforce.
LGIM has called for companies to publish the pay ratio between the median employee and the CEO and set out its expectations in its response to the government green paper on corporate governance.
Sacha Sadan continued: “We have been pressing for pay to be aligned with long term shareholders for some time, and while the majority of companies are getting the message, there remain a significant minority who continue to benchmark just against their peers. The increasing pay gap is having an impact on society and that is why we are taking a stronger line on bonus awards and the need for companies to publish their pay ratio. Company directors need to relate to their entire workforce now more than ever.”
Board accountability and diversity
LGIM continues to push hard on board diversity and is supporting the Hampton-Alexander Review. It will continue to strengthen its principles on board diversity over time, supported by the expectation that all boards in the FTSE 350 will comprise of at least 30% women by 2020. Over 2016, LGIM engaged with over 50 companies on diversity and voted against the Chairman of 12 UK companies for poor board diversity and weak policies.
LGIM has also been working with companies to improve board effectiveness, championing non-executive director education and board effectiveness reviews.
Sustainability topics were raised at 47% of company meetings in 2016, up from 35% in 2015 with climate change continuing to be a key focus. In 2016, LGIM committed to its Climate Impact Pledge, which will see companies excluded from its Future Fund range if they fail to embrace the transition to a low carbon economy. In all other funds where LGIM cannot divest, it will vote against the Chair of the board on this issue.
Sacha Sadan said, “Climate change presents material long-term financial risks in many sectors and that is why our Climate Impact Pledge is so important – it will be applied to all of the assets LGIM manages globally and the combined approach of ranking, engaging, voting and divesting sends a powerful message that investors are serious about tackling this issue. With over $1 trillion2 of assets under management, our collective voice can carry a lot of weight.”
1 IPE Top 400 Asset Managers 2016: https://www.ipe.com/reports/special-reports/top-400-asset-managers/top-400-asset-managers-2016-global-assets-now-563trn/10013542.article
2 LGIM internal data as at 31 December 2016. These figures include assets managed by LGIMA, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Data includes derivative positions and advisory assets
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Notes to Editors
Legal & General Investment Management
Legal & General Investment Management is one of Europe’s largest asset managers and a major global investor, with total assets of £902 billion*. We work with a wide range of global clients, including pension schemes, sovereign wealth funds, fund distributors and retail investors.
Throughout the past 40 years we have built our business through understanding what matters most to our clients and transforming this insight into valuable, accessible investment products and solutions. We provide investment expertise across the full spectrum of asset classes including fixed income, equities, commercial property and cash. Our capabilities range from index-tracking and active strategies to liquidity management and liability-based risk management solutions.
* LGIM internal data as at 31 December 2016. These figures include assets managed by LGIMA, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Data includes derivative positions and advisory assets.