UK - TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, called for mandatory voting by institutional investors at AGMs, in a speech to delegates at the TUC pension trustee conference today.

General secretary Brendan Barber said that in the wake of the financial crisis, there was a greater need for investors to be active.

"Never has there been more need for greater stewardship of pension funds than now, if we are to avoid the financial turmoil of the last few years. Investors should be obliged to divulge their voting records," he said, warning that the Corporate Governance Code published in July this year represented "a last chance to incorporate voting into the stewardship of pension funds."
Referring to the latest TUC fund manager voting survey, he said there was a wide divergence in institutional investors' track records on voting and engagement with companies last year.
The survey analysed the voting records of more than 20 fund managers and pension funds between July 2008 and December 2009.
The survey showed that while a majority of institutional investors supported over 70% of all management resolutions,  a minority supported less than 40%.
Remuneration was the most cited issue for investor dissent, with the majority of respondents supporting less than a third of remuneration reports. However, there were significant differences in the positions taken by investors,  with a handful voting for more than 60 per cent of company remuneration reports.
The survey showed how unions are encouraging fund managers to engage more on employment issues, citing a resolution put forward by Unite at the Tesco AGM last year, raising concerns about labour standards in the meat supply industry.
While an increasing number of investors made some voting data publicly available, the report said  the quality and frequency of this information varied.
Only nine investors disclosed their entire voting record, six revealed just their 'oppose or abstain' votes, while three provided only headline statistics, with no reference to specific companies.
There were also wide variations in how frequently the voting data was updated and the length of time it remained available online, making comparisons between fund managers difficult.
Respondents complained that engagement was hampered by a lack of transparency on the part of companies, making it harder for pension funds to hold companies to account.