Driving progress by sharing knowledge and experience with the market
Regulatory reform is the primary driver of progress but it is not the sole one. Progress may also result when stakeholders understand that the voluntary improvement of procedure can further the pursuit of shared objectives. Put another way, progress is made possible by compliance not only with the letter of the law but the spirit of it, too. 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.
Each Progress Group meeting comprises a diverse assembly of thought leaders, invited by SquareWell, who combine recognized expertise across a range of fields. Participants can freely discuss the corporate and investor landscapes as well as environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, and provide objective and actionable advice to the market. The Progress Group meets at least four times a year, with the aim of publishing a concise report.
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Issue 3 - What Does Pay Actually Say?
For this issue of the Progress Group, we wanted to focus on executive pay, one of the most hotly debated corporate governance topics being discussed globally by all stakeholders. With this in mind, we spoke to a number of leading global investors to gain their insight into why executive pay remains a perennial topic on the engagement agenda, the main concerns surrounding executive pay, how they tackle the problem at the companies which they invest in, and the different ways they expect companies to respond to their concerns.
Contrary to our belief that there may be fatigue around the issue of executive pay, we found that investors outlined a growing motivation to step up engagement with a clear demand to talk to board members as the people who can explain why a chief executive is given a particular pay package. Furthermore, the stewardship contacts we spoke with at top global investors outlined the markedinterest of portfolio managers in evaluating executive pay packages to ensure that the performance measures selected and targets set are in line with what the companies communicate to the market.
Issue 2 - Why Do Investors Sell Your Stock
Changes to your investor base are natural – holdings fluctuate daily – sometimes even amongst your top investors. And while you, as members of the C-suite or investor relations officers (IROs), are in regular dialogue with your shareholders, sometimes you don’t have much insight as to why certain investors decrease their exposure to your stock. You also often don’t have much, if any, warning when this is going to happen.
This persistent lack of clarity led us to talk with a number of portfolio managers (PMs) to see how much information we could unpack and whether there were any lessons that IROs and their C-suite colleagues could learn in order to mitigate against the selling off of positions. Despite the fact that the PMs with whom we spoke had different strategies – everything from best-in-class ESG analysis to price-driven quants – we garnered some remarkable commonalities across their thinking. Looking at these, it also becomes clear that there are tangible steps that IROs and management can take to more effectively communicate with the market and their current and potential investors.
Issue 1 - Return on Engagement: How to Increase Your ROE
Ten years on from the financial crisis, much progress has been made in the dialogue between companies and investors, but there is still a sense that the two sides are speaking different languages; the gap between them has not yet been bridged.
We spoke with a number of key players around the world on both sides of the table to get their take on where we are in the engagement landscape today, where we should be in five years’ time, and what changes need to happen for us to get there.