Active ownership

Our Active Ownership team is responsible for NAM’s engagement activities, as well as for driving the Responsible Investment Committee agenda and the RI Policy development. This group also works with the Corporate Governance team on proxy voting. Being an active owner is central to our understanding of ESG and Responsible Investment. Therefore, our active ownership activities span across all of our products.

We believe that active ownership is a powerful way to protect shareholder value, enhance long-term returns and foster positive change. We are convinced that ensuring good ESG practices in our funds’ holdings is an important part of safeguarding the long-term interests of shareholders and society. When we want to improve a company’s management of its ESG risks, we exercise our ownership right to support and influence the company. While we fully are fully prepared to exclude companies when we deem it necessary, our experience proves that active ownership can often be an effective tool to improve ESG performance, manage risk, and identify opportunities. Our active Ownership takes place in two streams – engagement and voting – both equally important and reinforcing one another.

Engagement

Engaging with our investee companies enables us to address material sustainability risks and opportunities. Our engagement activities combine the perspectives of portfolio managers, financial analysts, and ESG specialists to form a holistic opinion and establish coherent engagement objectives. Portfolio managers actively participate in engagement activities together with our ESG analysts. Engagements often run over several years and are carried out either by NAM alone or in collaboration with other institutional investors.

We believe that improved management of sustainability risks and opportunities is vital to creating returns with responsibility, and that engagement can result in competitive advantage, increasing the likelihood of companies being successful in the long run – benefitting companies, clients, and society at large.

During the engagement period, we conduct regular meetings with the company and track progress against pre-defined engagement objectives. Engagement may entail a dialogue with the companies’ executive bodies, influence on board composition, cooperation with other investors on joint voting at annual general meetings, and generally keeping a strict eye on the company. The dialogue allows us to put forward our expectations on corporate behaviour and to support companies in enhancing their sustainability performance.

Kajak
We believe that improved management of sustainability risks and opportunities is vital to creating returns with responsibility.

Progress reports and outcomes of the engagement are communicated to portfolio managers and financial analysts, allowing the information to be considered in investment decisions. In cases where an engagement relates to critical issues for the specific investment case or the general investability of a company, failure to meet expectations will entail escalation of the issue through other stewardship activities, such as voting, and ultimately the consideration of quarantine or divestment. 

Our engagement activities typically fall into one or more of three different categories:

1. Investment-led engagement

This relates to material ESG-related risks or opportunities identified by portfolio managers, financial analysts, and ESG analysts via our company assessments.

2. Norms- and incident-based engagement (including PAI)

Addresses companies that are in breach of international norms or conventions or those involved in ESG-related incidents. Significant deviation from the relevant peer universe on PAI metrics may also trigger engagement.

3. Thematic engagement

This type of engagement is initiated for investee companies with the most material exposure to one or several of our four focus areas:

  • Biodiversity
  • Climate
  • Good governance
  • Human rights

Each theme is closely aligned with the SDGs and relevant ESG risks and has been selected and defined through close collaboration between ESG specialists, portfolio managers, financial analysts, and clients. All of our engagements are tracked in our in-house database and reviewed by the RI team to monitor progress.

Construction
Engaging with an investee company enables us to address risks and opportunities. We conduct regular meetings and track progress against pre-defined engagement objectives.

Corporate governance

Our Corporate Governance team actively engages with companies in which the funds have significant ownership by voting at annual general meetings in accordance with the Corporate Governance Principles. The Corporate Governance team works in close collaboration with the Responsible Investments (RI) team and our Portfolio Managers (PM) to align the stewardship work, especially on important ESG resolutions.

Corporate governance focuses on four areas:

  • Nomination of board members.

  • Comments on restructurings, often in connection with acquisitions and mergers.

  • Events related to capital structure, such as share issues, borrowing money in need of capital, buy-backs of own shares and dividend policies of companies with strong balance sheets.

  • Questions related to incentive schemes and principles for remuneration paid to the management.

Want to know how we vote? Visit our voting portal to get insights.

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Learn more about the Corporate Governance Principles (pdf, 426 KB) applied by the Nordea funds. Examples of activities during 2021 can be found in the report Corporate Governance activities voting season 2021.

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