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  • 15/03/2018
    Hans-Christoph Hirt
    Against the backdrop of rising populism and low levels of trust in UK businesses, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has been considering how to bring the voice of employees into the boardroom as part of its ongoing efforts to revise the country’s Corporate Governance Code. This follows on from the UK government’s work on the same topic as part of its corporate governance reform green paper in 2017. Unlike regulation in other European countries, UK law does not mandate board level employee representation. However, section 172 of the 2006 Companies Act requires directors to take into account the interests of employees and other stakeholders.
  • 01/03/2018
    Hans-Christoph Hirt
    The UK Stewardship Code was truly pioneering when it was introduced in 2010. It was designed to enhance the quality of engagement between investors and companies, thus contributing to long-term corporate success and improving investment returns for the ultimate beneficiaries. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC), which developed it, can be proud that the code’s introduction has been the catalyst for the proliferation of stewardship codes globally. However, with the code’s planned revision, on which the FRC has just undertaken an initial consultation, we must recognise that it has not yet completely fulfilled its purpose and that a market for stewardship remains a hope rather than a reality.
  • 18/12/2017
    Hans-Christoph Hirt
    Climate change The year 2017 will be remembered for the devastating effects of hurricanes and other extreme weather events. Climate change will therefore remain top of the investor agenda for the foreseeable future. There will be a push for more standardised disclosures, based on the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), and increasing collaboration between investors globally in an attempt to move companies in the right direction. We will continue to engage with companies on the risks and opportunities arising from climate change and encourage them to report against the TCFD recommendations.
  • 17/11/2015
    Hans-Christoph Hirt
    Our engagement with Siemens has been longstanding and constructive, with the company as a rule receptive to our input on the management of its compliance crisis, refreshment of its supervisory board in 2008 and overhaul of its management and supervisory board remuneration systems. In recent years, our focus has been on succession of the chair and the effective implementation of the company’s strategy, with a focus on portfolio optimisation and strengthening project management.
  • 20/05/2015
    Hans-Christoph Hirt
    We have been engaging with the company on governance issues for several years, especially on remuneration disclosure and advisory votes. In early 2013, it emerged that the board of directors had agreed to grant the former chair and CEO, under whose leadership the Novartis group was created, a non-compete payment worth nearly CHF72 million (€66.7 million). This payment and the board’s repeated failure to follow best practice and disclose full and meaningful information to shareholders – although there was no legal obligation to reveal more than the board had disclosed – raised concerns about the board’s stewardship of shareholder interests and its judgment on this matter.