This effect on performance can have varying degrees across companies, sectors, regions, and asset classes and through time. As a signatory to the United Nations backed Principles for Responsible Investment, we have incorporated ESG principles into our investment processes.
We believe that a holistic view of investments, including consideration of ESG factors, promotes a well-rounded approach to investing with better return outcomes for clients. In making investment, retention and divestment decisions, we may look at a range of ESG standards and use a range of tools and methodologies to assist with decision-making.
Perennial consistently delivers mutually beneficial outcomes through the alignment of our interests with those of our clients. It is to this goal that our commitment to ESG, at both a corporate and an investment level, is applied.
The research we undertake into a company’s ESG attributes, in conjunction with our analysis of the numbers and financials, can provide us with a more holistic view than the numbers and financial analysis alone. We run our own ESG database including scoring companies on ESG attributes. We take a pragmatic, analyst driven approach. We believe that this approach will ultimately lead to better return outcomes for our clients.
We aim to tailor our discrete portfolios to a client’s requirements, in order to meet their long-term risk/return needs. This may mean that some of our larger clients will choose to “screen” on attributes such as fossil fuels, tobacco, junk food or similar. Our database can also lead to positive skews, should our clients wish to utilise our ESG views in a more explicit manner.
ESG may have legislation considerations for companies, such as workplace and environmental management. Where these considerations are overt, we will assess them in accordance with our analytical approach. For example, when undertaking a company visit to a mining company, one of our analysts may see poor workplace or environmental standards (even though the company has policies in place to promote “good practice”), these factors will be taken into account when the analyst formally assesses the company. The analyst’s assessment may include greater financial provisions in the event of legal action, feeding into poorer profit expectations; a poor assessment on management quality; and/or, a formal note on the issue. This results in poor financial outcomes and a poor analyst conviction, branding the company unlikely to be included in the portfolio. We report this back to clients through commentaries and bespoke reporting requirements.
We believe that we should execute against our vision with action when it comes to ESG. This includes promoting ESG initiatives with building management (e.g. better recycling and power management), promoting community activities, as well as helping individuals understand ways in which they can impact ESG initiatives.
We also undertake an ESG awareness program. This incorporates the promotion of ESG principles to our stakeholders and the inclusion of ESG training as part of the annual requirements for each staff member. We are a member of a number of industry initiatives and participate in industry ‘think tanks’ to further ESG integration into funds management practices. Our Sustainability Policy is found here.
For corporate governance to be effective, it is necessary for us, and other shareholders to be willing to act as owners of companies and to express our views to boards of directors, as well exercising our voting rights.
Our policy is to vote on all company resolutions, where we have the ability to do so. We believe that voting rights are a valuable asset and should be held in high regard. We try to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in all circumstances. We prefer not to ‘abstain’ from any vote.
For Perennial Value to vote against a board of directors, there must be a valid reason. We will always discuss our issues with company management prior to voting ‘no’ with the aim to obtain a better outcome for our clients.
All votes are cast with the best interests of our clients in mind. Our Proxy Voting Policy also ensures that we adhere to, and are compliant with, the Financial Services Council Standard No 13 (Voting Policy, Voting Record and Disclosure). For further details about our Proxy Voting Policy, please read Perennial’s ESG & Corporate Governance Policy.
On an annual basis, we publish a summary of our proxy voting record. To read the 30 June 2017 report, please click here.