We believe that the proper disclosure and consideration of ESG risks and opportunities by the companies or countries in which we are invested will enhance the long term, sustainable performance of those investments. Accordingly, we seek to integrate ESG factors into our investment process when doing so may have a material impact on our investment risk or return. As a general rule, we will not exclude any particular investment or industry based on ESG factors alone. We believe it is important to consider those factors within our overall investment process rather than unduly narrowing the universe of potential investments.
Specialist Socially Responsible Investment Solutions
We offer our clients a number of socially responsible investment funds (SRI Funds) which do exclude some investments based on ESG factors. Those funds integrate social values into the investment process by screening potential investments based on their ESG policies and practices or the industries in which they operate. In 2016 RBC GAM made available a global equity fossil free fund in Canada and the U.S.. We also offer our institutional clients the ability to create a custom ESG screen for their segregated portfolios.
Engaging with management or directors of the companies in which we are invested is another tool we use to maximize our investment returns and lower our risk. Portfolio managers and analysts meet with the companies in which they invest 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. Our ESG-focused engagements are chosen and prioritized 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. Engagement also allows us to better understand our investee companies, their governance structures and their approach to ESG issues generally, which will better inform our voting and investment decisions.
Proxy voting is a key part of our engagement process as it provides an important way for us to convey our views to boards and management. Voting responsibly is part of our fiduciary duty and we make our voting decisions independently, and in accordance with our custom Proxy Voting Guidelines. Those voting guidelines provide an overview of the corporate governance principles we support and how we will vote on ESG-related issues.
We believe that transparency and accountability is as important for institutional investors as it is for the companies in which we are invested. We provide our clients with regular reporting of our voting and stewardship activities and we publish semi-annual Corporate Governance & Responsible Investment reports to more fully describe our activities as a responsible and engaged shareholder.