TUC research: Institutional investors greatly oppose remuneration reports

Remuneration reports draw the greatest opposition from institutional investors, according to a survey by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

However, the TUC’s ninth annual fund manager fund voting survey found that bank remuneration reports were widely supported.

A sharp divide in voting stances was reported, as four out of the 22 fund managers, pension funds and voting agencies that were surveyed, supported more than 70% of resolutions, while five respondents supported less than a third.

Half of the survey respondents supported less than half the remuneration reports on which votes were sought, and many supported less than a third.

The survey showed progress in the disclosure of voting records, as 13 respondents disclosed a full voting record, compared to just nine last year.

However, the quality of information varied, with several fund managers only disclosing votes against and abstentions, and others only providing headline statistics.

The survey found that the Stewardship Code, which was introduced in July 2010 to set out good practice on engagement between institutional investors and organisations, has led to several respondents identifying changes, such as improved engagement record keeping.

However, the TUC says the code has had very little effect on the voting stances taken by institutional investors and needs to be toughened up.

Brendan Barber, general secretary at the TUC, said: “Shareholders are supposed to be the ultimate check on our corporate system, but too many fund managers are still failing to use the power of their investments to influence corporate behaviour.
“The fact that UK bank remuneration reports received so much backing in the face of diminishing dividends and poor stock market performance is a clear sign that institutional investors are not doing their job properly.

“Reform of our corporate culture is long overdue and ministers need to take the lead in forcing through change, particularly on executive pay, where remuneration committees are frequently failing to act in a transparent and responsible manner.”

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