Thursday, 5 July 2007

Fund managers claim to be transparent

According to the Investment Management Association (trade body for the UK asset management industry) fund managers are becoming more
transparent in respect of voting and engagement activity. Its annual
survey of fund manager engagement was published this week and is worth a read. You can download it here. It should really be read alongside the recent TUC and LAPFF reports.

Here’s some of the IMA’s blurb:


IMA's latest annual survey on fund manager engagement with companies shows that the level of transparency is increasing. The survey is the most comprehensive of its kind covering 33 firms, managing £640 billion of UK equities, representing 68% of the market. The trend is increasingly for engagement to be integrated into the investment process, complemented by regular dialogue with senior management and monitoring which allow firms to vote and engage objectively on an
informed basis.

All 33 firms in the survey have a policy to vote all their UK shares.
All now report to clients providing explanations of their decisions - especially when they have voted against the Board - together with details of engagement other than voting.

Firms are also increasingly making details of voting and engagement public by putting them on their websites with 16 currently doing so (representing 53% of the sample in terms of ownership of UK equities), and others planning to do so in the future.

Other survey findings include:

* all the firms have policy statements on engagement, 26 of which are made public on their websites;
* 24 firms include their policy on voting in both new and existing agreements, compared to 21 in 2005 and 19 in 2004;
* engagement is integrated into the investment process - in 18 firms final voting decisions on controversial issues are taken at a senior level and in a further 14 the portfolio managers are actively involved;
* the majority of firms have staff dedicated to engagement with these resources increasing by just over 5% over the last year and in the previous two years by just over 10% per year; and
* 27 firms provided details to IMA on how they had voted which showed that there are fewer votes against the Board or conscious abstentions than in previous years, suggesting that regular engagement is improving understanding between companies and investors.

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