Whilst Marathon is not an activist investor in terms of making outsize bets and then conducting public campaigns for change, our approach has been to meet with companies on a frequent basis over the long holding periods and engage in discussions about decision making. There have been numerous private disagreements over the years and sometimes this has led us to express our concerns to boards. The approach is active in the sense of asking difficult questions rather than presuming that we know better on how a company should be run. Indeed, we have witnessed a number of activist campaigns over the years which, although possibly delivering a short-term benefit to shareholders, have been detrimental to long-term shareholder interests.
In Japan, Marathon has advocated corporate governance reform on a frequent basis and it is our view that the pace of change is now greatly underappreciated by investors. As mentioned above, we have one analyst, Masanago Kono, who joined the firm in 2015 and is based in Tokyo. Masa focuses on corporate governance issues, engaging with senior management of portfolio companies addressing issues such as cash deployment, the separation of Chairman and CEO roles and proxy voting.
Additionally, with regard to proxy voting, portfolio managers at Marathon have always voted their own proxies. Whilst we receive helpful advice from proxy advisory services like ISS, decisions are made on a case-by-case basis utilising the specific knowledge gained over many years. The key for us is that the portfolio manager knows the companies and the individuals involved and is responsible for the investment.