Shareholder Advisory Firm
SquareWell specializes in monitoring investor behavior and preferences to support listed companies across the world to "focus on what matters".

Our investor-focused advice, grounded in precedent and facts, facilitates a strategic and tactical approach to ESG issues faced by management and the board in support of their business goals. SquareWell also assists companies in increasing their Return on Engagement (ROE).
Activism in the UK
SquareWell's review shows that activism campaign numbers nearly doubled in the UK-listed market; with the rise most pronounced in FTSE 250 index and AIM market. FTSE 100 companies were not excluded from activist interest with public pressure seen at GSK and Rolls-Royce, by Elliott and Causeway, respectively.

Our review also found that Proxy Advisor and institutional investor support of activists was seen more in opposition of management proposals than support for shareholder proposals.

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2021 Market Update
SquareWell monitored the 100 largest companies by market capitalization in the US and Europe to identify trends regarding the companies’ capital allocation decisions, activism, shareholder opposition to executive pay and director elections, and ESG disclosure practices.

Data for the 100 largest companies in Europe and US shows that 75% have increased their dividend to bepaid out of 2020 earnings compared to 2019. Share buybacks, however, have not yet picked-up.

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What's Been Said on Climate
SquareWell undertook a review of the different approaches taken by companies that voluntarily adopted a Say on Climate (SoC) vote or have received a shareholder proposal demanding a SoC be instituted.

The fact that the concept is being pushed by different organizations across the globe without a unified approach to their demands leads to confusion. Adding to the complexity are companies proactively adopting a SoC vote who have each adapted it to fit their own agenda.

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Activism in Japan
Whilst the cultural context suggests that Japan may be an unattractive market for activist shareholders, the archipelago has been hit by a wave of shareholder proposals and activist campaigns in recent years.

A number of factors have contributed to making Japan attractive for activists: a high number of undervalued cash-rich companies, broadly shareholder friendly regulatory reforms, increased transparency, and the reduced local investor support for boards.

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Increased stewardship activity leads to greater accountability

Increased stewardship activity leads to greater accountability

Evolving regulatory requirements and the pressure to deliver sustained returns in an extremely competitive environment has led investors to increasingly monitor extra-financial factors alongside financial performance.

The integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) in investment decisions has moved from a ‘nice to have’ to a basic requirement for many asset owners. Asset managers are now held accountable by their clients to evidence how they use ESG to identify opportunities, manage risks and have an impact. Moreover, for investors, stewardship is no longer just about voting. It means monitoring and engaging with companies on issues ranging from capital allocation to climate change.

For companies, on the otherhand, the challenge is to understand how each investor exercises their rights and responsibilities which are not yet homogenous. Boards and management teams are now under constant pressure to demonstrate how their strategic decisions aim to create value for stakeholders while reducing their negative externalities. Failure to effectively communicate the long-term impact of those decisions makes a company more vulnerable to threats posed by investors, competitors, and other market participants.

Our Approach

Irrespective of a company’s ownership structure, we are involved when director and management accountability is in focus.

We support our clients’ decision-making processes throughout the year, by monitoring shareholder behavior and preferences, and by anticipating emerging trends in ESG practices and disclosures.

Our work begins with understanding our clients and their relationship with their investors. We conduct an in-depth review of each client’s strengths and any challenges it faces with respect to the responsibility it has to its shareholders. This diagnostic exercise alerts our clients to what matters to their investors.

SquareWell seeks to recreate the public squares of the past, enabling companies and shareholders to gain an unfiltered understanding of each other in neutral territory, which helps establish goodwill and trust. Our clients are supported with developing a narrative with impact, and enter fully prepared into a meaningful dialogue with their shareholders.

Analyze
Engage
Communicate
Decide
Advise

As a leading shareholder advisory firm, our ability to analyze and interpret market feedback, supported by our proprietary knowledge management tool, allows us to provide investor-focused advice, grounded on precedent. This, in turn, helps maximize investor support in high-stake votes and avoids contested situations.

The Progress Group

Driving progress by sharing knowledge and experience with the market.

We believe that all stakeholders in the financial market can drive progress and positive change. In particular, we think that when diverse stakeholders participate in thoughtful discussion and debate, great ideas are generated. That is why we consider it imperative that stakeholders have opportunities to come together, discuss issues, and share their knowledge and experience with the market.

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News and events

Catch up with SquareWell’s media coverage and find news about forthcoming events SquareWell is hosting or attending.
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Insights

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