The NAPF has updated its Corporate Governance Policy and Voting Guidelines, designed to reflect and push forward current market best practice. The policy and guidelines are developed through consultation with NAPF members and aim to assist members in:
- Promoting the success of the companies in which they invest, and
- Ensuring that the board and management of these companies are held accountable to shareholders.
The policy has been revised to take into account the NAPF’s wider view of corporate governance, which looks beyond the essentials of the code to consider sustainability more broadly. Our ambition is that this policy will encourage both companies and shareholders to move beyond a box-ticking approach and approach their responsibilities in a more considered fashion.
Some of the specific changes within the code are as follows:
A focus on individuals and succession. This year’s updated policy places much greater emphasis on the importance of individual responsibility, and in turn the role of shareholders in ultimately holding accountable those individuals they have elected to the board.
A wider view of risk. We have highlighted the need for reputational risks, such as a company’s approach tax management, and emerging risks, such as those from cyber security and climate change, to be appropriately considered.
Remuneration. This has long been an area of shareholder interest and public discussion. This year we have updated our policy to set out more explicitly those issues we think investors should consider carefully when they vote on the remuneration policy, the remuneration report, and the chair of the remuneration committee.
Voting guidelines. This year the focus has moved from the corporate governance code generally to the specific resolutions being voted on at an AGM. We hope this will encourage shareholders to give more consideration to how they use their voting rights and subsequently to exercise their voting rights more coherently on all resolutions.
In addition, we no longer advocate the use of abstentions as a general approach and place stronger emphasis on holding the individuals within the board to account on issues relevant to their area of responsibility.
Will Pomroy, Corporate Governance Policy Lead, NAPF, commented:
“Members of the NAPF have a clear interest in promoting the success of the companies in which they invest. So it’s a natural role for the NAPF, and one it has long considered part of its core purpose, to articulate the expectations of pension funds and the investment management firms who manage the pension funds’ assets.
“We focus our efforts on maximising the long-term returns of our member’s assets, irrespective of the potential for short-term discomfort. We strongly encourage shareholders to make systematic use of all of the powers at their disposal to support the highest standards of governance at the companies in which they invest, and consequently to support the success of these companies for the benefit of their individual scheme members.”
Read theCorporate Governance Policy and Voting Guidelines 2014/15
Notes to editors:
The NAPF is the voice of workplace pensions in the UK. We speak for over 1,300 pension schemes that provide pensions for over 17 million people and have more than £900 billion of assets. We also have 400 members from businesses supporting the pensions sector.
We aim to help everyone get more out of their retirement savings. To do this we spread best practice among our members, challenge regulation where it adds more cost than benefit and promote policies that add value for savers.
The NAPF and Institutional Shareholder Services’ joint licensing agreement on UK corporate governance services ended in June 2014. The NAPF continues to help and encourage member engagement with investee companies through our Corporate Governance Policy and Voting Guidelines, which are updated annually. We encourage pension funds to give thought to how they clearly communicate their expectations to their asset managers and proxy advisory firms if they intend that the NAPF’s Voting Guidelines will continue to be explicitly followed by their agents.
Lucy Grubb, Head of Media and PR, NAPF, 020 7601 1726 or 07713 073023, [email protected]
Eleanor Bennett, Press Officer, NAPF, 020 7601 1718 or 07825 171 446, [email protected]