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Investor Behaviour in the 2021 Proxy Season

Deeper Engagement

A global analysis of investor voting guidelines and voting behaviour

We are pleased to publish a first-of-its-kind analysis of trends across annual general shareholder meetings (AGMs), together with a comparison of the published voting guidelines of institutional investors, from pension funds to sovereign wealth funds to asset managers. With the 2021 AGM and proxy season in the rear-view mirror, it is an opportune time to reflect on investor expectations at a global level and to see how carefully investors have placed their steps.

Key findings from the report:

  • An analysis of voting guidelines issued by institutional investors across Asia, Europe and the Americas reveals large differences in where and when investors will vote against directors, support shareholder proposals, or support say-on-pay resolutions. These differences are not readily apparent and, when compared across investor groups, can even be contradictory;
  • For certain well-established topic areas, for example those relating to director elections and remuneration, shareholder resolutions may be withdrawn at high rates following engagement and discussion between issuers and investors;
  • Social issues, the ‘S’ in ESG, have come to the fore since the advent of the pandemic. Investors have put forward more social-related shareholder proposals this year than in previous years and the trend is hardly confined to the US: from Korea to Canada, companies are fielding proposals from shareholders about the diversity of their workforce, hiring and retention practices, and beyond.

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