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Stewardship Growing and Evolving in Australasia

Over half of investment managers and asset owners surveyed in Australia and New Zealand have now adopted a stewardship code, said the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA). A survey for the RIAA’s ‘Engage, Advocate, Collaborate: Unpacking Stewardship in Australasia’ report found that 85% of the region’s investors publish stewardship policies, either as part of their responsible investment or ESG policies or as a standalone policy. Stewardship policies typically explain how investors intend to engage with investee companies on ESG issues, and their approach to collective action, with modern stewardship codes setting higher standards of engagement for sustainability outcomes, recognising its role in responding to systemic issues. Just under six in ten of investors surveyed publicly disclose full voting reports, the RIAA said, with 51% publishing a summary of their engagements. Barriers to advancing stewardship practice included systemic issues – including lack of incentives and difficulty attributing outcomes to a specific investor – and gaps in knowledge and skills. The report also found that 82% of investors surveyed collaborate with others to achieve better ESG outcomes, and 71% engage or advocate on public policy issues, “challenging traditional ideas of what it means to be a prudent investor”. 

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