Our responsible investment team podcast

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Katie Eagles from our investment team talks to Ashley Hamilton Claxton, Head of responsible investment at Royal London Asset Management.

In this podcast you'll find out more about what the responsible investment team does, how they act as good stewards of your money by investing your pension in a responsible way and how the team collaborates with companies to influence positive change in society.

Katie Eagles:

Hi, I'm Katie Eagles from the investment solutions team here at Royal London and I'm delighted to welcome Ashley Hamilton Claxton, Head of responsible investment at Royal London Asset Management. Just over 90 percent of our pension assets are managed by Royal London Asset Management and Ashley leads its dedicated responsible investment team. In this podcast we'll find out more about what the responsible investment team does, how they act as good stewards of your money by investing your pension in a responsible way and how the team collaborates with companies to influence positive change in society.

Welcome Ashley. Firstly, what is responsible investment and what does responsible investment mean to Royal London?

Ashley Hamilton Claxton:

So, to us responsible investment means investing clients’ money in a responsible way. So being good stewards of our clients’ capital and taking into account any environmental, social or corporate governance risks or opportunities when we're making investment decisions. So, in practice it means essentially, we're trying to be good caretakers of our pension savers money and making sure any companies that we're investing in are acting in a responsible manner. And if we do find they are acting in ways that we think they can make improvements we will engage with those companies to make change.

Katie Eagles:

And how does your responsive investment team actually engage with companies to help influence positive change?

 

Ashley Hamilton Claxton:

So, engagement is a lot of the work that we do. So, what does it mean in practice? So, in practice it means basically reaching out to the companies we invest in. So, as you know being a pension saver, we invest money on your behalf, and we will own either shares or bonds in thousands of companies on our customers behalf. So, engagement simply means when we're invested in a company, we as RI team are working with the fund managers. If we identify an issue or concern, we will reach out to the company and try and have a discussion with that company. That can happen in a number of different ways. We can send letters or emails. We can have phone calls or pre-COVID crisis we would meet with them in person. And usually we set out an agenda about the things that we want to talk about, and we will seek to kind of create change at the company or we will ask the company to undertake change.

Katie Eagles:

What sorts of things do your team vote on, on behalf of our customers?

Ashley Hamilton Claxton:

Yes. So, one of the major activities that we do is as a team is proxy voting. So, what is proxy voting? So some of you may or may not be aware but when you own a share in a public company, so Carnival for example or Metro Bank, you every year the company holds an annual meeting just like Royal London does, so as a member you get to vote or as a shareholder get to vote at that meeting on a number of ballot items. So, we get to approve the report and accounts often, we vote on the election of directors and we'll vote on executive pay and we'll often if there's other items on the ballots, if shareholders have proposed items for the ballot, we will vote on shareholder proposals.

Katie Eagles:

And finally, I'm sure our listeners will be wondering how does this impact their pensions?

Ashley Hamilton Claxton:

Yeah, we have to bring it back to reality. So the reality is that we are all pension savers and I think sometimes we forget that, a lot of people, a lot of our members who are invested with us or who have a pension or product with us may not realize that basically this, this is their deferred wages. This is money that we are investing on their behalf. So, it's not an abstract concept. We are investing these moneys in these companies and we as a team are working behind the scenes to make sure that our customers pensions are invested in a responsible way. We're making sure that the companies that we're investing in are resilient both from a financial perspective as you'd expect but also from longer term environmental social and corporate governance perspective.

And then we are pushing for change behind the scenes on our customers behalf. So, I think it is really important. Pensioners have incredible power because there are hundreds and hundreds of billions of money circulating around the economy that is pension saver’s money. So, I think it is a really, really important role to play.

Katie Eagles:

Thank you, Ashley. And thank you for listening.

 

 

To find out more, visit our responsible investment section.