2016 AGMs – Shareholders continue to make themselves heard
Published on Monday 9th of May, 2016
Once again shareholders have kicked off the AGM season by expressing continued concern over executive pay. The following highlights noteworthy votes against remuneration reports so far this year:
|Company||Percentage Vote Against Remuneration Report|
|Smith & Nephew||53%|
With executive remuneration remaining a hot topic, the key takeaways from the 2016 AGM results so far are the same as previous years:
- Know your shareholders – ensure there is consistent and effective communication with key shareholders to promote constructive dialogue. This will help remuneration committees judge the expectations of their shareholders.
- Engage early – speak to large shareholders out of the proxy season rather than leaving it close to your AGM, especially if you foresee that any changes may be contentious.
- Be consistent – when performance is good it can be easy to become complacent, but this is the time to foster goodwill and form stronger relationships with key shareholders.
- Listen – take note of the opinions and views of shareholders. If they are not in the best interests of the company, then be sure to provide a suitable explanation as to why their view will not change your approach. Adapting a strong approach to ‘Comply or Explain’ is essential.
- Build the correct contacts – speak to those who are responsible for the voting decision as they may have different views to fund managers and analysts who are not responsible for the voting process itself.
- Be aware of key influencers – shareholders are increasingly influenced by proxy advisers such as PIRC, ABI, PLSA, ISS, Glass Lewis and Manifest so taking their views into account is vital.
- Consider all shareholders – smaller shareholders can still prove vocal at AGMs so good disclosure of all material facts should be made in a timely manner.
With an ever-increasing range of global investment choices, companies need to focus on building long-term relationships with shareholders, founded on trust, transparency and regular communications. In doing so, companies will maximise the benefits of having shares in the public domain.
With a well-defined engagement plan in place, its implementation will result in balanced dialogue that will foster a mutual understanding that in turn enables remuneration policies to be both appropriate and motivational, resulting in fewer votes against the remuneration report (policy or implementation elements).
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