AvSuper shareholding voting policy principles
By investing in stock-exchange listed companies, AvSuper becomes a part owner of those companies and thus has the right to vote in major decisions for each of those companies.
The Trustee aims to positively influence the corporate governance of the companies in which it invests by being an active shareholder. The Trustee notes that active share ownership primarily involves engagement with companies and the exercise of voting rights. The underlying premise of AvSuper votes is to act in members’ best interests. This generally means voting in such a way as to maximise future dividends, share values or both. AvSuper is a shareholder in listed companies throughout the world and therefore has a keen interest in their good performance. Good corporate governance within these companies can increase returns to shareholders and reduce the risk of fraud and failure thereby benefiting AvSuper members and the economy as a whole.
- All rights to vote on shares are to be exercised, having regard to the best interests of Fund members
- For directly held investments, fund managers are required to vote in accordance with the Trustee’s guidelines and/or instructions
- Where we are not able to directly influence a voting decision (for example investments held in pooled unit trusts with other investors), fund managers are required to vote in the best interests of investors
- The Trustee will monitor and review all voting activity to ensure these policy principles are met and will take action as required where fund managers fail to meet the policy principles
The voting process
AvSuper takes advice from investment managers, recognising that the managers’ interests are generally aligned with the Trustee’s, i.e. to obtain the greatest possible return on the invested money. Our fund managers are expected to demonstrate that they take their voting responsibilities seriously.
The Trustee reserves the right to override the vote of any of its managers and has delegated this power to AvSuper’s Management. Managers must notify the Trustee when they intend to vote against a company resolution or to abstain from voting. This advice must include detailed reasons for the decision.
The responsibility to engage with companies on matters such as governance and performance rests with the investment managers, in consultation with the Trustee. These managers are considered to be more effective in this role than the Trustee as they usually represent a number of other investors with considerable shareholdings overall. This provides a greater likelihood of concerns being addressed at an appropriately senior level within the company.
AvSuper’s voting in 2015-16
The Trustee exercised its voting rights throughout the year as voting opportunities arose, where we were eligible to vote. Most votes were lodged in person by AvSuper’s Management or electronically by the Trustee’s investment managers, in accordance with the Fund’s voting policy principles and where necessary, in consultation with AvSuper’s Management.