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RBC Global Asset Management

PRI reporting framework 2017

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Engagement

Overview

LEA 01. Description of approach to engagement

New selection options have been added to this indicator. Please review your prefilled responses carefully.

01.1. Indicate whether your organisation has a formal engagement policy.

01.2. Indicate what your engagement policy covers:

01.3. Attach or provide a URL to your engagement policy. [Optional]

01.4. Provide a brief overview of your organization’s approach to engagement

Our investment teams meet with the companies in which we are invested on an ongoing basis and often discuss risks and opportunities relating to ESG factors. We engage more specifically with companies on ESG-related issues when those issues have been identified as particularly material for that company. We are in the process of formalizing our ESG engagement program that will prioritize engagements using a risk-based approach, focusing on the materiality of the ESG risks and opportunities facing each company and the size of our investment in it.

In general, the goal of our engagement program is to effectively communicate our views as an investor. More specifically, the purposes of our ESG-focused engagements are to: i) seek better disclosure of ESG risks and opportunities and the steps the company is taking to address them; ii) encourage more effective management of ESG factors when we believe they may impact shareholder value; iii) clarify information in advance of a voting decision; iv) where a company is lagging behind its peers on a material ESG issue, seek a commitment from the company for change, monitor any changes and encourage continued improvements that will impact shareholder value.

We engage collectively with other shareholders where appropriate.

01.5. Additional information [optional]


LEA 02. Reasoning for interaction on ESG issues

02.1. Indicate the method of engagement, giving reasons for the interaction.

Type of engagement

Reason for interaction

Individual/Internal staff engagements

Collaborative engagements

Service provider engagements

02.2. Additional information. [Optional]


Process

Process for engagements run internally

LEA 03. Process for identifying and prioritising engagement activities

New selection options have been added to this indicator. Please review your prefilled responses carefully.

03.1. Indicate whether your organisation has a formal process for identifying and prioritising engagement activities carried out by internal staff.

03.2. Describe the criteria used to identify and prioritise engagement activities carried out by internal staff.

03.3. Additional information. [Optional]

Our ESG-focused engagements are chosen and prioritized using a risk-based approach, which focuses on the  materiality of the ESG risks and opportunities facing each company and the size of our investment in it. In addition, there has been a recent increase in the number of issuers proactively engaging with us, in part due to past voting decisions.


LEA 04. Objectives for engagement activities

New selection options have been added to this indicator. Please review your prefilled responses carefully.

04.1. Indicate if you define specific objectives for your engagement activities.

04.2. Indicate if you monitor the actions that companies take following your engagements.

04.3. Indicate whether your organisation defines milestones and goals for engagement activities carried out by internal staff.

04.4. Indicate if you do any of the following to monitor and evaluate the progress of your engagement activities carried out by internal staff.

04.5. Additional information. [Optional]

We monitor the progress of a company in implementing its plans to address ESG-related issues by continuing to communicate with the company and analyzing data and research related to the company and/or industry. Since each engagement is unique, the measurement of any tangible outcomes will depend on the particular circumstances. Similarly, the established process in the case of unachieved goals or unfulfilled issuer commitments is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.


Process for engagements conducted via collaborations

LEA 05. Process for identifying and prioritising collaborative engagement

New selection options have been added to this indicator. Please review your prefilled responses carefully.

05.1. Indicate whether your organisation has a formal process for identifying and prioritising collaborative engagements

05.2. Describe the criteria used to identify and prioritise collaborative engagements

05.3. Additional information [Optional]

RBC GAM is an active member of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance (CCGG), a member-based organization that collectively engages with Canadian public companies regarding governance issues on behalf of its members. CCGG reaches out to its members for input on companies where engagement on governance issues would be warranted. Prior to an engagement, CCGG asks members whether there are any specific issues they would like addressed.

RBC GAM's Chief Investment Officer is the current Vice-Chair and immediate-former Chair of CCGG and RBC GAM is a very active participant in these collaborative engagements.

We are also open to participating in other collaborative engagements with like-minded shareholders. For instance, the Global Access to Nutrition Index's (ATNI) reports demonstrate slow movement by food and beverage manufacturers in regards to nutrition-related commitments, practices and performance. Having formally supported the ATNI's initiatives, we committed to join other asset managers and owners in engaging with food and beverage companies on these issues to improve nutrition policies, practices and disclosure across the industry. 

A member of the CGRI team also sits on the UN PRI Cyber Security Committee that is building an engagement project focused on cybersecurity risks and opportunities at public companies.


LEA 06. Objectives for engagement activities

New selection options have been added to this indicator. Please review your prefilled responses carefully.

06.1. Indicate if you define specific objectives for your engagement activities carried out collaboratively.

06.2. Indicate if you monitor the actions companies take following your collaborative engagements.

06.3. Indicate whether your organisation defines milestones and goals related to engagement activities carried out via collaborations.

06.4. Indicate if you do any of the following to monitor and evaluate the progress of your collaborative engagement activities.

06.5. Additional information. [Optional]

CCGG always engages with companies over a 2-3 year period in order to monitor progress. Following each engagement, CCGG provides reports to members outlining the company's plan to address each ESG issue raised. In subsequent years, CCGG issues follow-up reports outlining the progress of the company.

In addition, RBC GAM will continue to track and monitor the progress of our collaborative engagements outside of the CCGG with other investors or organisations such as the PRI.


General processes for all three groups of engagers

LEA 09. Share insights from engagements with internal/external managers

09.1. Indicate if insights gained from your engagements are shared with your internal or external investment managers.

Type of engagement

Insights shared

Individual/Internal staff engagements

Collaborative engagements

09.2. Additional information. [Optional]

The CGRI team invites the relevant investment teams to participate in all of our engagement efforts. Our investment teams frequently leverage the CGRI team as a resource for their engagements as ESG moves to the forefront of issuers' engagement priorities. It is common for members of the CGRI team and members of our investment teams to participate jointly in our engagement efforts. If our investment teams do not participate directly, we ensure that the issues raised during our engagement meetings reflect the views and priorities of the investment teams.

We track the engagements done by the CGRI team in full and provide a report to the relevant investment teams. We use our best efforts to capture and track any ESG issues that arise during the regular communications between our investment teams and their investee companies.


LEA 10. Tracking number of engagements

10.1. Indicate if you track the number of engagements your organisation participates in.

Type of engagement
Tracking engagements

Individual / Internal staff engagements

Collaborative engagements

10.2. Additional information. [OPTIONAL]

We track the engagements done by the RBC GAM's CGRI team in full and use our best efforts to capture the ESG issues raised in engagements done by our portfolio managers and analysts.

In 2016, we tested an internal tracking method to better capture ESG engagements done by our portfolio managers and analysts. We continue to consider our options as we seek to determine the most efficient and effective tracking and monitoring methods available.


Outputs and outcomes

LEA 11. Number of companies engaged with, intensity of engagement and effort

11.1. Indicate the amount of your listed equities portfolio with which your organisation engaged during the reporting year.

Number of companies engaged

(avoid double counting, see explanatory notes)

Proportion (to the nearest 5%)
Specify the basis on which this percentage is calculated

Individual / Internal staff engagements

72 Number of companies engaged
10 Proportion (to the nearest 5%)

Specify the basis on which this percentage is calculated

Collaborative engagements

49
10 Proportion (to the nearest 5%)

Specify the basis on which this percentage is calculated

11.2. Indicate the proportion of engagements that involved multiple, substantive and detailed discussions or interactions with a company during the reporting year relating to ESG issue.

Type of engagement

% Comprehensive engagements

 

 

Individual / Internal staff engagements

 

 

Collaborative engagements

11.3. Indicate the percentage of your collaborative engagements for which you were a leading organisation during the reporting year.

Type of engagement

% Leading role

 

 

Collaborative engagements

11.5. Additional information. [Optional]

In addition to the engagement figures listed above, RBC GAM sent over 200 engagement letters to companies that did not meet our updated proxy voting guideline regarding the number of boards that are appropriate for a sitting CEO. The 2016 update stated that RBC GAM will generally withhold votes from directors who are current CEOs sitting on more than two boards (their own board plus one other). In order to minimize board disruption and allow both companies and directors time to adjust, this guideline was implemented in the RBC GAM Proxy Voting Guidelines with a two year grace period. The aforementioned letters served to notify boards with overboarded CEO directors of our updated guidelines


LEA 12. Engagement methods

12.1. Indicate which of the following your engagement involved.

12.2. Additional information. [Optional]

When appropriate, we will initially engage with an issuer through an engagement letter, outlining the relevant issues and communicating our desire to engage. For instance, in 2016, we distributed engagement letters to over 200 issuers, alerting them to upcoming changes to our proxy voting guidelines that have the potential to impact how we vote at those companies' meetings.

In some cases, our investment teams conduct site visits as part of company meetings and will discuss numerous topics, including ESG. We capture the contents and outcomes of such meetings through our internal tracking and via select teams’ client reporting.


LEA 13. Engagements on E, S and/or G issues

13.1. Indicate if your engagements in the reporting year covered E, S and/or G issues, providing an estimation of the breakdown.

Individual / Internal staff engagements

2.8 % Environmental only
4.2 % Social only
52.7 % Corporate Governance only
40.3 % Overlapping ESG issues
Total 100%

Collaborative engagements

0 % Environmental only
0 % Social only
100 % Corporate Governance only
0 % Overlapping ESG issues
Total 100%

13.2. Additional information. [optional]


LEA 14. Companies changing practices / behaviour following engagement

14.1. Indicate whether you track the number of cases during the reporting year where a company changed its practices, or made a formal commitment to do so, following your organisation’s and/or your service provider's engagement activities.

14.2. Indicate the number of companies that changed or committed to change in the reporting year following your organisation’s and/or your service provider's engagement activities.

Number of company changes or commitments to change

Individual / Internal staff engagements

3

Collaborative engagements

48

14.3. Additional information [Optional].

We have limited the figure listed above for our individual/internal staff engagements to only include actual changes or formal commitments to change. It should be noted that for many of our internal engagements, companies have committed to considering changes based on our ongoing engagement efforts, but have not yet made that change or made what we consider a ‘formal’ commitment to do so. In terms of collaborative engagements, we rely on figures provided to us by CCGG for all CCGG engagements.


LEA 15. Examples of ESG engagements

15.1. Provide examples of the engagements that your organisation or your service provider carried out during the reporting year.

Topic or ESG issue
          Executive Compensation
        
Conducted by
Objectives

Obtain further clarification regarding the company's compensation plan and practices, including its failure to disclose pertinent information on the plan and its decision to increase the compensation pool for the evaluated year, in order to inform our proxy voting decision.

Scope and Process

This was an issuer-specific engagement due to concerning elements in the issuer's compensation plan for the evaluated year. Given the outcomes of the engagement and ultimate proxy voting decisions, this engagement is considered ongoing.

Outcomes

The issuer clarified aspects of the compensation plan and how they directly related to the company’s operational structure and lines of business. We encouraged greater disclosure of the plan’s components and the rationale behind its design. The company has agreed to explore ways to improve its disclosure in this regard and we will continue to monitor its progress.

Topic or ESG issue
          Community Relations
        
Conducted by
Objectives

Obtain additional information regarding the issuer's management of relationships with local communities in the regions where it operates.

Scope and Process

This is an issuer-specific, ongoing engagement pertaining to the issuer's own set of specific circumstances and operations.

Outcomes

The company was able to demonstrate that its Board is educated and actively involved in this issue. Further, the company elaborated on its commitment to employ individuals from these communities and advised that it has opted to delay projects in the past when it did not obtain full support from its local partners.

Topic or ESG issue
          GHG Emissions and Reporting
        
Conducted by
Objectives

Communicate our desire for improved emissions reporting and transparency as the issuer is considered to lag behind its peers in this area.

Scope and Process

This was an issuer-specific engagement due to the company's performance on emissions reporting. Given our engagement objectives, this engagement is considered ongoing.

Outcomes

Emissions reporting and transparency as compared to the peer companies were discussed.  The issuer agreed to take our concerns to its Board and we continue to monitor its performance on this issue.

Topic or ESG issue
          Board Diversity and Experience
        
Conducted by
Objectives

To obtain commitment from the issuer to nominate additional independent directors with relevant operational mining experience to the Board.

Scope and Process

After extensive engagement over several years and in collaboration with a Canadian pension plan, we filed two shareholder proposals, one of which requested that the issuer nominate additional independent directors with operational mining experience to the Board.

Outcomes

Our filing led to further productive engagement, following which the company ultimately agreed to implement our proposal and nominated an experienced geological and mining engineer as an independent director of the board at the 2016 annual meeting. The company also agreed to nominate an additional independent director with operational mining expertise by the 2017 annual meeting.  This second director was actually appointed to the board in mid-2016 and will be subject to re-election by the shareholders at the 2017 annual meeting.

15.2. Additional information. [Optional]


Communication

LEA 16. Disclosure of approach to ESG engagements

16.1. Indicate whether your organisation proactively discloses information on its engagements.

16.2. Indicate if the information disclosed to the public is the same as that disclosed to clients/beneficiaries.

16.3. Indicate what engagement information your organisation proactively discloses to the public.

          A general overview of the types of engagements over the course of the period is disclosed in our semi-annual CGRI reports.
        

16.4. Indicate how frequently you typically report engagements information to the public.

16.5. Indicate what engagement information your organisation proactively discloses to clients/beneficiaries.

16.6. Indicate how frequently you typically report engagements information to clients/beneficiaries.

16.7. Describe any other differences in the information being disclosed. [Optional]

Some clients may receive more detailed engagement information or receive engagement information on a more frequent basis directly from our investment teams.

16.8. Additional information. [Optional]


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