PIRC Criticises Shareholder Voting Silence

Thursday, April 12, 2012 Print Email

Only 15% of asset managers that produce a Stewardship Code statement disclose full voting details, according to recent PIRC analysis of shareholder groups.

In the latest PIRC survey of the 175 asset managers listed on the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) list of Stewardship Code statements, less than a third (29%) disclosed any voting data.

PIRC has suggested that that the remaining two-thirds of managers do not ‘comply’ with the Code, which states: ‘Institutional investors should disclose publicly voting records and if they do not, explain why’. In addition, only 27 (15%) of all those producing a Code statement make a full voting record available.

A further 18 make headline statistics available, though these are largely useless for comparative analysis. A further five report only votes against or abstentions which distorts reporting, said PIRC.

Looking at non-disclosure, of all 175 asset managers 58 (33%) had a statement of policy where it was made clear public reporting was not undertaken. A further 39 (22%) made a statement where the policy could be inferred, because reference is only made to reporting to clients and no voting data is available. One in ten managers produce Code statements that make no reference to policy on voting disclosure.

In a statement, PIRC said: ‘We believe that the Stewardship Code has had an impact. Looking at when managers started to disclose, at least 25 managers began disclosing data publicly, in one form or another, in 2010 or 2011. The Code came into force at the end of 2010.

‘The other big spike in the number of asset managers disclosing voting data came in 2008, with ten managers starting to disclose. This may have been in response to a policy statement on voting disclosure by the then Institutional Shareholders Committee. Also, the Government was considering making public disclosure mandatory at the time.’

Assuming the same rate of disclosure is maintained, it would take almost ten years before half of signatories disclose a full record of voting patterns.

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