Our proxy voting policy is overseen by our head of governance and sustainability. The policy is available to all investment staff and frames the decisions made in respect of voting proxies.
We recognise that we have a duty to act in the best interests of our clients. To that end, our proxy voting policy is designed to enhance shareholders' long-term economic interests. All our voting decisions are made in-house and are undertaken in accordance with our corporate governance guidelines and in line with our clients’ best interests. Proxy voting is integral to stewardship and as such we will routinely inform management of our investee companies when we are voting against them and provide our rationale for this.
Our policy is updated at least annually, taking into account emerging issues and trends, the evolution of market standards, and regulatory changes. The policy considers market-specific recommended best practices, transparency, and disclosure when addressing issues such as board structure, director accountability, corporate governance standards, executive compensation, shareholder rights, corporate transactions, and social/environmental issues.
ISS, our proxy voting advisor, and Ownership Matters, also provide voting recommendations for Martin Currie in accordance with their own policies which are closely aligned with our internal policy. As appropriate, they engages with public issuers, shareholders, activists, and other stakeholders to seek additional information and to gain insight and context in order to provide informed vote recommendations. Martin Currie’s starting point is to act in the best interests of our clients. Our voting decisions are informed by both our own internal work and that of our proxy advisor. We assess voting matters on a case-by-case basis, taking into account a company’s circumstances but are guided by our over-arching principles on good corporate governance. The assessment is carried out by the member of the investment team with responsibility for the stock in conjunction with the Head of Stewardship and ESG. We recognise that regulatory frameworks vary across markets and that corporate governance practices vary internationally. We will normally vote on specific issues in line with the relevant market guidelines. Where the recommendations of our proxy advisor, both for and against proposals, are supported by our internal research we will generally vote in accordance with these recommendations.
Where our view does not support the recommendation from our proxy advisor we document the reasons for this and also confirm that there is no conflict of interest. This decision is the signed off by the Head of Stewardship and ESG who is independent of the portfolio managers and investment analysts and is recorded in our research portal.
Our voting instructions are actioned by our client operations team. They will only process voting instructions if the correct procedures are followed. The investment team also receive confirmation from the client operations team that votes have been processed in accordance with instructions - a screen-shot is taken of the instructions once placed.
Proxy voting also forms part of the audit process. This is designed to ensure that votes are cast in the manner intended, they are adequately documented and that there are no conflicts of interest.