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AUM in Action

Scottish Widows to Take Hard Line on Asset Manager Voting

UK-based pension provider Scottish Widows has analysed the voting records of its external asset managers and published the findings as part of its 2022 Stewardship Report, issuing a warning to managers in misalignment with the asset owner’s voting guidelines. The report noted that, overall, externally appointed fund managers voted against management recommendations on 43.81% of shareholder proposals and against management recommendations on 9.58% resolutions proposed by management during the 2022 annual general meeting (AGM) season. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management, failed to vote against management recommendations more often than other managers working with Scottish Widows, recording the lowest level of overall dissent at 4.67% compared to Schroders (10.94%) and State Street Global Advisors (SSgA). Scottish Widows has also updated its voting guidelines, replacing its ‘Climate and Carbon’ theme with ‘Climate and Environment’ to ascertain a greater focused on nature. In collaboration with other UK pension funds, Scottish Widows will be meeting with its main managers later this year to discuss concerns regarding alignment with its voting positions. “While we have been pleased with the positive strides we have made with our investment managers over the last year, there is still more that needs to be done to ensure activity is aligned with our guidelines – particularly as our thematic priorities continue to evolve,” said Maria Nazarova-Doyle, Head of Responsible Investments and Stewardship at Scottish Widows. “If managers fail to act in line with our priority, which will always be the interests of our beneficiaries, we will have no choice but to take action. We are hopeful that our meeting with our managers this autumn will result in positive outcomes for all parties.

 

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