We are committed to being an active owner of our investments, and we use our influence as a shareholder to encourage companies to manage their ESG risks. We do this by encouraging high governance standards across markets and asset classes, particularly in the New Zealand market. We exercise our voting rights globally. We monitor and engage with portfolio companies that have breached - or might breach - recognised ESG standards.
The importance of voting
Voting rights are important for maintaining shareholder oversight of directors, boards and company policies. They are therefore central to our practice of responsible investment and to meeting our obligations under our governing legislation in relation to best practice portfolio management and managing risk. We exercise our voting rights globally across the Fund's listed equities.
How we vote
The broad principles are set out in our voting policy, as well as the voting guidelines of our elected proxy voting agency, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). Such principles represent the essential elements of good governance, and include transparency, board alignment with shareholder interests, remuneration, business ethics, and maintaining voting rights.
For our New Zealand equity holdings, we consider the recommendations of both our proxy voting agency and our New Zealand investment managers, but we make the final voting decisions.
While we will generally vote as set out in these guidelines, in special circumstances we may respond to specific issues on a case-by-case basis.
Corporate governance principles
The Fund is a founding member of the New Zealand Corporate Governance Forum. The Forum supports the Principles published in the FMA’s Corporate Governance Handbook for Directors which form the basis for the Forum’s Guidelines.
The FMA Principles and the Forum guidelines cover a much broader range of topics than those voted at AGMs and, whilst informing our voting decisions, they are primarily a tool for our analysis and engagement with companies.