GLOBAL – Almost half of investors believe a shift towards annual reporting would have a positive impact on long-term investing, according to a survey by First State Investments.
While 44% cited the shift in reporting patterns as important to changing attitudes, a further 36% believed that ending corporate earnings quarterly reporting would contribute to this effect.
The survey, conducted at the manager's Responsible Investment attended by 100 industry figures including asset managers, asset owners and pension funds, also revealed that stronger mandates and a greater emphasis from asset owners in relation to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues would accelerate its integration by asset managers, according to 65% of its respondents.
It also found that just 17% of respondents believed that improved communication from companies would increase ESG in the investment process, while 14% felt that new regulation would have an impact.
Asked if they would invest in a company with a poor but improving ESG score/rating, 88% of those responding said yes.
Respondents' top three views on what would have the greatest impact on improving the wider investment industry were distribution of loyalty dividends and votes for long-term shareholders (39%), new financial instruments to meet a fit-for-social-purpose test (20%), followed by the introduction of a seventh PRI Principle to encourage long-term investment (13%).
Meanwhile,following the publication of Cranfield’s 2013 Female FTSE board report, the 30% Club has responded to concerns that progress has stalled for women on boards, arguing that the figures are a wake-up call to companies who feel that they have done enough to make their boardrooms more representative.
Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton Investment Management and founder of The 30% Club, said: "While it’s disappointing that momentum has slowed on better gender balanced boardrooms, I'm not surprised.
"It was perhaps inevitable after such significant acceleration in the pace of change over the past couple of years – almost half of FTSE-100 non-executive directorships went to women in 2012," she added. "There are also companies who may feel they've done enough after appointing a single woman to their board – we need to encourage them to continue to use vacancies to move further towards balance. I still think 25-30% women on boards is within reach for end 2015."
She continued: "The executive pipeline is more concerning – we know it takes years to develop senior talent but the data suggests we're going backwards."
In other news, energy company Petrobras has become the first Brazilian company to publicly disclose the names of minority shareholder nominees for election to its board and the Conselho Fiscal at its AGM on 29 April, following dialogue with investors and advisory groups, including Hermes Equity Ownership Services (Hermes EOS), Aberdeen Asset Management and F&C since November 2012.
The company has accepted recommendations by the investor group and nominated a candidate proposed by the group to represent minority ordinary shareholders on the board, as well as two candidates put forward by the investors for the Conselho Fiscal.
Nick Robinson, director, head of Brazilian equities at Aberdeen Asset Management, said: "Brazilian companies have made great strides in the area of corporate governance over the past decade, and we are encouraged by the dialogue we have had with Petrobras and its acknowledgement in recognising the importance of board-level representation for minority shareholders."
He said he was hopeful that the precedent would lead to further improvements in governance at Brazilian corporates.
Finally, Dexia Asset Management has published its annual Proxy Voting Report for 2012, detailing the voting principles it applied to the various corporate governance issues, the resolutions it voted on and the voting statistics for last year.
Contentious voting issues revolved around three broad themes: director remuneration, board accountability and independence, and share capital issues.
The asset manager sent a letter to the companies' chairmen to explain the rationale behind some of its controversial voting recommendations.
In 2012, Dexia AM participated in 119 meetings and voted on 1,808 items.
Dexia AM exercised its voting right at annual or extraordinary meetings held by companies located for the most part in Germany (13%), France (19%) and the UK (22%).