Insurance Asset Risk Awards 2021 - UK & Europe

Stewardship initiative of the Year - Aviva Investors

Aviva Investors voted on a shareholder resolution every eight minutes in 2019 – so barely the time it takes to hard-boil two eggs in a row—spread across 5,382 meetings.

In total it expressed an opinion on 61,876 resolutions – 42% of the time against management and 87% in favour of climate-friendly proposals. As its chief executive Mark Versey puts it stewardship is "non-negotiable".

Besides its shareholder voting activities, the company reported 3,122 engagement activities that year.

And if stewardship is a practice often kept behind closed doors, veiling discussions and outcomes from the outside world, at times Aviva Investors has not minded nailing its colours to the mast.

Recently, for example, it announced pulling out of 30 "systemically important carbon emitters" if they didn't produce plans to become net-zero emitters.

"Time's running out to act," equities CIO David Cumming explained. Few options remain after traditional monitoring and engagement for companies that "don't listen".

In particular, judges praised the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) launched by the asset manager in 2013.

The CHRB is a free and publicly available benchmark that ranks companies in the agriculture, apparel, and extractive sectors on their human rights policies, practices and performance. It helps to identify human rights risks and guide investment strategies.

Aviva Investors updates its voting policy to vote against boards of companies that scored poorly, and partners with other institutional investors to communicate with companies, either praising good performance to reinforce positive behaviour or flagging poor performance.