It has been another successful year for Hermes EOS as we celebrated our 10th birthday. We acknowledged this milestone by inaugurating the Alistair Ross Goobey debate on stewardship.
Across the markets in which we operate we have seen substantial developments, such as the introduction of Stewardship Codes in Japan and Malaysia. These seem to have paved the way for better corporate governance in the region as Singapore and Taiwan are now looking to introduce Stewardship Codes too. Japan is also about to publish its first ever Corporate Governance Code.
In the UK, we saw the last all male FTSE 100 board tumble with the appointment of Patrice Merrin to Glencore, and the 30% Club has continued its good work, meaning female directors now make up over 20% of FTSE 100 boards.
Equally positive, we have seen an increased commitment from US companies to more open and deeper conversations between boards and investors. This has been reflected in the improved quality of the interactions we have had with US companies during the year. The establishment of the Shareholder Director Exchange and the Conference Board during the year will lead to improvements in communication between companies and owners.
The oil and gas industry has entered into meaningful dialogue on climate change across the industry as well as with investors. We experienced this first-hand as Tim Goodman spent two days with Suncor reviewing and debating issues relating to the development of oil sands in Canada with a group of asset owner and manager signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment.
Within our business we have seen a significant increase in activity levels and a step change in quality for our company engagements as well as support of broader industry developments via our public policy engagements.
Hans-Christoph Hirt spent six months on secondment in Asia and developed a strong network across the region. This has resulted in improved access to companies and progress of engagements with the likes of PetroChina and Hon Hai.
Hans was the first Western investor to speak at a Taiwanese AGM and his intervention led to the chair providing additional substantive information on the company’s strategy.
Our engagement work in the UK saw significant progress within the banking industry across a range of issues and topics, including board composition, values and conduct and an improved focus on shareholder returns.
In the fourth quarter, Naheeda Rashid and Dominic Burke took several clients on an engagement trip assessing the conditions in the supply chains of multi-national retailers. A blog on this can be found on this website.
We have welcomed two new clients during the year, PensionDanmark and Pensions Vervoer, and at the time of writing we are finalising contracts with three others.
We have sought to enhance and improve our interactions with our clients during the year, with a number of new initiatives such as our new client portal EOSi, our monthly EOSi Highlights calls where we expand on our work with companies, themes and sectors, the EOS blog as well as Twitter.
The EOS team has also changed during the year. We have welcomed a number of new engagement professionals including Rochelle Giugni, Roland Bosch and Bruce Duguid, as well as James O’Halloran as head of operations, Amy Lunn as head of business and client development and Lucy Saville to the client team. We are looking to expand the engagement team in 2015 with more senior hires.
This has been another successful year for us at EOS, and on behalf of the team I wish you, your families and colleagues a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and we look forward to working with you in 2015.