Shareholder Engagement Policy
The Shareholders Rights Directive II (SRD II) aims to promote effective stewardship and long-term investment decision making, by enhancing the transparency of asset manager investment and engagement strategies. As an investment firm providing portfolio management services to clients, Killik & Co is considered an asset manager in this context. This document sets out our approach to engagement, in line with the requirements of SRD II.
Engagement with the management of our investee companies is a core component of our investment process and is how we discharge our responsibilities as investors and advisors. We will therefore always endeavour to speak with senior management prior to including a company on our Covered List and seek to maintain and build an ongoing dialog with management over what we hope is the long term, which is consistent with our approach as investors and not traders.
The purpose of this engagement is to enable us to cross reference and check company strategy and financial performance, with any independent third party research we may use, but also to help us better understand the less-tangible aspects of a company such as corporate culture, which is an important aspect of our investment process and something that requires active engagement to properly ascertain.
Engagement itself is may take the form of face-to-face meetings, corporate communications, presentations, third party broker analysis, independent reports, competitor communications, industry analysis and specialist research providers.
Our engagement activity is focussed on two areas, Corporate Governance and Sustainability.
In executing our responsibilities for correct and proper corporate governance, we pay particular attention to capital structure (which may include the existence of different share classes) shareholder rights, an effective allocation of capital and executive remuneration.
Our review of Sustainability will include an assessment of a company’s current impact on climate change and importantly senior management’s attitude and strategy for improvement in this area.
Beyond Climate change, to be a truly sustainable business and one capable of delivering returns over the long term for our clients – corporate culture, employee relations, tax policy and a businesses impact on society, are important considerations for us when deciding whether or not to invest in a company.
An example of this assessment process in action, was our engagement with an emerging market education company that we screened for potential inclusion in our Sustainable Equity Service. The company’s stated goal is to improve education levels in the student population thus improving economic opportunities, benefiting the students and the overall economy. Whilst undertaking research on the company, it appeared that the business was currently focused on the private school market, and was not addressing the public/state education sector. We were concerned that this was not in the best interests of the overall economy, as this may exacerbate already high levels of income inequality in the country it operates in.
We engaged with the company to find out more about any plans to address the public/state education sector in the future. Whilst the company outlined credible plans to do this, it was our belief that these plans would be insignificant to the overall company and to the overall education level in the country. As such, we decided not to invest, although have since maintained dialogue with the company around Sustainability and encouraged a more thorough approach to improving overall education levels.
We are responsible for exercising voting rights on behalf of discretionary managed clients and use our professional judgement to decide whether to vote against or support resolutions. When we exercise voting rights on behalf of discretionary managed clients, we do so with sustainability and the long term interests of our clients in mind. We encourage and are able to facilitate the exercise of voting rights by our Advised clients. Please contact us should you require further details of this.
Killik & Co is a partnership, and this structure aligns our interests with those of our clients. Our senior staff share in the long-term profitability of the firm, so they are interested in investment returns and client relationships that are sustainable. Where conflicts of interest on engagement exist between Killik & Co, and/or a particular client and our wider client base, it is our policy to act in the best interests of all our clients.