First State Super has a significant exposure to listed share investments. Exercising the voting rights attached to shares held in public companies is something we regard as being integral to active ownership. Share voting is an important tool for engaging with companies. Voting is an effective way for the Trustee and other investors to publicly express its views on what a company is doing right, and what a company needs to improve.
The Trustee is ultimately responsible for voting decisions and has the right to override the recommendations put forward by its corporate governance advisors and its investment managers.
Voting on Australian Shares
The Funds have appointed a proxy voting specialist, Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), to provide voting advice in relation to resolutions of a corporate governance nature for companies in the ASX300 Index. External and internal investment managers are expected to actively consider their position on company resolutions put to Annual General Meetings.
Where voting is not contentious (defined as cases where both ACSI and the investment manager(s) support a company resolution), the Funds vote in favour of the resolution. Where voting is contentious (defined as cases where either ACSI or the investment manager(s) do not support a company sponsored resolution), the Head of Responsible Investment will consider each resolution on a case-by-case basis. Inputs to the decision-making process will include ACSI’s proxy voting advice, the views of the investment manager(s) and, if relevant/required, and time permitting, a third-party report.
Voting on Global Shares
For international holdings, voting is achieved through a proxy voting specialist, CGI Glass Lewis, and with investment managers. CGI Glass Lewis provides proxy voting research and vote recommendations for the Vanguard international equities portfolios. Other international shareholdings are voted by the investment managers in line with their proxy voting agency or their own internal voting guidelines. We retain the right to instruct voting decision on the shares we own. The Funds expect the international equities investment managers who hold voting responsibility to:
- exercise their voting responsibility actively; and
- report to the Funds on voting activity, highlighting where a vote is made in a manner that is inconsistent with their internal voting guidelines.
Any votes not made in line with our proxy advisors or a manager's policy together with the rationale are reported to our Investment Committee.