Proxy Voting – Positively Influencing Corporate Business Practices
At Wespath, acting as a prudent fiduciary on behalf of our clients and participants is our top priority. In addition, we endeavor to manage investments in a manner that honors the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church, and in accordance with the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment.
This dual responsibility requires a proactive approach absent in most investment organizations. We work diligently to influence the companies in which we invest, in order to promote better governance and corporate business practices that can ultimately have a positive impact on shareholder value.
Every publicly traded company conducts an annual meeting during which shareholders cast votes on a variety of issues. Typically, these issues include the election of directors, ratification of the company auditor, stock redistribution schemes, executive compensation packages, other governance issues and shareholder resolutions. Voting by proxy enables us to participate in this process and we view it as a vitally important tool in our efforts to influence corporate policy.
Because of the importance of proxy voting, we have taken great care in the formulation of the policies that govern how votes are cast. The United Methodist Church is a prime influencer of these policies, and we strive to honor its Social Principles, while serving the financial interests of investors.
Glass Lewis is a leading proxy analysis firm that helps us execute our policy. They help us review and understand the many voting issues, monitor corporate practices and make informed voting decisions that not only protect, but enhance value. Glass Lewis also acts on our behalf in the voting process itself, executing votes in accordance with our proxy policy.
Ensuring Proper Execution and Transparency
Ensuring proxy votes take place as intended is critical to the achievement of our goals. We have instituted rigorous internal controls to govern every aspect of the voting process, including:
- Securities Lending Program Administration – Wespath has processes in place to ensure that securities that have been loaned to other institutions are recalled so they are in our possession at the time of voting.
- Internal Proxy Control Program – Glass Lewis, our third-party processing partner, executes proxy votes in accordance with our standing proxy policy. For voting issues not specifically covered by the policy, they make recommendations that are reviewed by Wespath before any action is taken.
- Transparency – We maintain openness in our policies, our voting record and the current status of issues.
- The Wespath proxy voting guidelines on environmental, social and governance issues that appear on proxy ballots are available.
- A complete record of Wespath’s proxy voting record, including the current status of open issues, is available here.