MARKET COMMENTARY

Proxy Voting at Fiduciary Trust International

06.03.2021 - Carin L. Pai, Head of Portfolio Management

At Fiduciary Trust International (FTI), our equity strategy uses an integrated research process that blends traditional financial analysis with the evaluation of environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) factors. We believe companies that can identify and adapt to material ESG risks and opportunities improve their chances of generating superior financial performance over the long-term. That philosophy, which guides our investment process, now informs the way we vote client proxies.

Each year, publicly listed corporations in both U.S. and international equity markets are required to solicit the input of their shareholders on major corporate matters, including board member elections, executive compensation, and shareholder resolutions. While shareholders have the option of attending a company’s annual general shareholder meeting to submit their vote, most vote by proxy, using ballots received electronically or in the mail.

FTI is a direct stakeholder in companies on behalf of our clients. Unless a client directs us otherwise, FTI’s Proxy Voting Committee evaluates the proxies our clients receive and votes on their behalf. The Committee votes in a manner that aligns with the firm’s investment strategy and is consistent with our fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of our clients.

Proxy Voting Guidelines

Though the Proxy Voting Committee maintains full voting discretion, it supports its analysis with a subscription to the research and voting recommendations of Institutional Shareholder Services (“ISS”), a proxy advisory firm. As of June 2021, FTI will begin receiving recommendations that align with ISS’ Sustainable Proxy Voting Guidelines. These guidelines are based on the same principles that underlie ISS’ Standard Voting Guidelines, but place greater emphasis on financially material environmental, social, and governance risks. Under these guidelines, voting recommendations encourage companies to improve their disclosure of ESG data and management of material ESG risks. We believe that driving toward greater transparency from these companies helps us make better investment decisions for our clients.

Our approach to voting proxies using the ISS Sustainable Proxy Voting Guidelines does not affect how we manage our clients’ portfolios, nor does it alter our responsibility to vote proxies in the best interest of our clients. However, it does align our votes more closely with our investment philosophy. 

Strengthening Corporate Responsibility

We are pleased to be part of an investor community that helps ensure U.S. corporations recognize sustainability as an integral part of their business, and not just a social or environmental imperative.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to your portfolio manager with any questions on our proxy voting policy. 

 

 

 

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