Insight


State Street Global Advisors’ Issuer Engagement Protocol

  • State Street Global Advisors has developed an engagement framework to increase transparency around our engagement philosophy, approach, and processes. 
  • These guidelines are designed to communicate with our investee companies regarding the objectives of our engagement activities and to facilitate a better understanding of our preferred terms of engagement. 
  • The framework also includes guidance for our interactions with activist investors and shareholder proposal proponents.



State Street Global Advisors’ engagement activities are driven exclusively by our goal to maximize and protect the long-term value of our clients’ assets. These guidelines are utilized by State Street Global Advisors’ proxy voting and engagement team, known as the Asset Stewardship team, to develop annual engagement objectives and priorities based upon an assessment of the greatest risks and opportunities within our clients’ funds. The protocol clearly defines instances in which the Asset Stewardship team is willing to participate in reactive engagement, thereby allowing the team to focus on active, thematic, or sector specific engagement across our global portfolios. 

State Street Global Advisors’ Methodology for Developing its Annual Engagement Strategy

State Street Global Advisors believes that the geographic spread and depth of its holdings provide a challenge but also an opportunity for the firm as it develops its engagement strategy. While we would like to maintain a dialogue with all of our portfolio companies, we recognize the need to focus our engagement efforts where we believe we will have maximum impact. Each year, as part of its strategic review process, the Asset Stewardship team develops an annual engagement strategy, and it identifies a target list of companies that we intend to engage with during the year. Factors considered in developing the target list include: 

  • Companies identified for engagement based on our in-house governance, compensation, and sustainability screens
  • Thematic environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues that the team identifies as potential risks facing investee companies
  • In-depth sector specific engagements across our global holdings
  •  Companies with lagging long-term financial performance within their sector
  • Companies at which follow-up engagement is needed based on past discussions 

The intensity and type of engagement with a company is determined by State Street Global Advisor’s relative and absolute holdings in that company. In addition, we also factor in geographic diversity in our engagement efforts to reflect the level of economic exposure to various markets. Finally, we also consider the engagement culture in a market or geographic region when developing our engagement target list and approach.

State Street Global Advisors believes in-person meetings facilitate a mutual understanding and trust with the boards and management teams of our investee companies. 

However, once we have developed such relationships, State Street Global Advisor’s preferred method for update meetings is via conference calls as we believe this is cost effective for our clients and investee companies. This also helps us reduce our global carbon footprint.

Helpful Information to Include in Engagement Request Emails to State Street Global Advisors

To help expedite the review of engagement requests, please include the following information in engagement request emails to State Street Global Advisors:

  • Company name and identifier (i.e. ticker)
  • Topics the issuer is interested in discussing
  • Upcoming meeting date, if applicable
  • Issuer attendees and their titles

All requests for engagement should be sent to the Asset Stewardship team at GovernanceTeam@ssga.com.

Guidelines for Engaging with Investee Companies

  • We seek to meet with management at reasonable intervals to receive updates on execution of strategy, financial, and operational performance, as well as significant matters that may affect the future prospects of the company. Discussions pertaining to interim financial results or other short-term considerations will not be considered a priority. 
  • We believe that as a long-term shareholder with substantial holdings, it is important to establish a relationship and have a direct communication channel with independent directors in our investee companies. Therefore, as part of our active engagement process, we prefer to meet with the non-executive chairperson/lead independent director and/ or representative of key board committees. Such meetings help us assess the quality and effectiveness of the board, the extent of the oversight of management, and the board’s perspectives on key issues, such as strategy, risk, capital allocation, and compensation. It also allows us to escalate matters to the board’s attention if management has been unresponsive to suggestions discussed during prior engagements. 
  • After our initial meeting with members of the board, the frequency of desired follow-up meetings is determined by the nature of the issues discussed. We will outline expectations and timelines for subsequent meetings during the discussion. We follow similar guidelines for meeting requests with C-suite management representatives at companies. 
  • Typically, we allow additional capacity for reactive engagement in Q2 for markets such as in the US, UK, EU, and Japan (Q4 for Australian companies) where the majority of the companies in those countries have general meetings between the months of April and June. 
  • We reserve the Q1, Q3, and Q4 time periods to conduct the majority of our active engagements with some room for reactive engagement for companies that have experienced a significant event or are seeking approval for a corporate transaction, board transition, or other material concern.
  • We may also engage with those companies that hold general meetings outside of the peak voting season.
  • We only accept solicitation request where we would like to engage with a company based on our internal assessment of the ballot item presented for a shareholder vote.
  • Instances where we accept engagement requests include instances when:
    • We have concerns about a ballot item
    • We believe that engagement will better inform our voting decision
  • Instances in which we are likely to reject solicitation requests include:
    • We do not have any immediate concerns about a ballot item
    • We believe we have adequate information to make an informed voting decision on a ballot item
    • Our position on a ballot item is addressed in our public policy statement
    • We have actively engaged with the company on matters pertaining to the ballot proposal outside  the proxy season
    • The company has not been responsive to our request for change during prior engagements
    • We believe that the matter is best discussed outside the vote solicitation period
  • If we have provided feedback during the vote solicitation period, we believe that any follow-up discussion with the company should focus on the board or company’s response to our feedback. 
  • We track all feedback provided to investee companies and routinely conduct follow-up engagements to assess the progress made by a company toward the incorporation of our feedback. 
  • We welcome written submission of changes made by the board to the company’s governance or remuneration policies and practices. While we review all letters, we respond to only those letters in which we would like additional clarity on the proposed changes or wish to identify specific changes. 

Guidelines for Engaging with Activist Investors or Investors Soliciting State Street Global Advisors’ Votes in Connection with Vote-No Campaigns or Shareholder Proposals

We believe it is good practice for us to speak to other investors that are running proxy contests, putting forth vote-no campaigns, or proposing shareholder proposals at investee companies. However, we limit such discussions with investors to one engagement unless we believe that it is necessary for us to have a follow-up call. We welcome the opportunity to review materials sent in advance of the proposed discussion. To the extent possible, we review all materials made publicly available by the investor or the company on a contested ballot item before making a voting decision. Our primary purpose of engaging with investors is:

  • To gain a better understanding of their position or concerns at investee companies
  • In proxy contest situations:
    • To assess possible director candidates where investors are seeking board representation in proxy contest situation
    • To understand the investor’s proposed strategy for the company and investment time horizon to assess their alignment with State Street Global Advisors’ views and interests as a long- term shareholder 

All requests for engagement should be sent to GovernanceTeam@ssga.com

Investor Engagement Protocol

State Street Global Advisors encourages boards of directors to develop an investor engagement protocol or plan that establishes policies and mechanisms through which independent directors communicate with and receive feedback from institutional investors. The protocol would help foster strong relationships between a company’s directors and its investors, while promoting transparency, responsibility, and accountability of the board. 

The protocol should identify key independent directors (such as a non-executive chairman, lead independent director, or a representative of a key board committee), who would be mandated to engage with shareholders on a range of topics that are of interest to State Street Global Advisors and/or other institutional investors. A robust engagement protocol would also develop a crisis communication plan for the board when institutional investors and the market-at- large need to communicate with independent directors, in a timely manner, about their oversight and response to a developing concern facing the company.

Disclaimer

State Street Global Advisors Worldwide Entities

Abu Dhabi: State Street Global Advisors Limited, Middle East Branch, 42801, 28, Al Khatem Tower, Abu Dhabi Global Market Square, Al Mayah Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Regulated by ADGM Financial Services Regulatory Authority. T: +971 2 245 9000.

Australia: State Street Global Advisors, Australia, Limited (ABN 42 003 914 225) is the holder of an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL Number 238276). Registered office: Level 17, 420 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia T: +612 9240 7600. F: +612 9240 7611.

Belgium: State Street Global Advisors Belgium, Chaussée de La Hulpe 120, 1000 Brussels, Belgium. T: 32 2 663 2036, F: 32 2 672 2077. SSGA Belgium is a branch office of State Street Global Advisors Limited. State Street Global Advisors Ireland Limited, registered in Ireland with company number 145221, authorized and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, and whose registered office is at 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2.

Canada: State Street Global Advisors, Ltd., 770 Sherbrooke Street West, Suite 1200 Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1G1, T: +514 282 2400 and 30 Adelaide Street East Suite 500, Toronto, Ontario M5C 3G6. T: +647 775 5900.

Dubai: State Street Global Advisors Limited, DIFC Branch, Central Park Towers, Suite 15-38 (15th floor), P.O Box 26838, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). T: +971 (0)4 4372800, F: +971 (0)4 4372818.

France: State Street Global Advisors Ireland Limited, Paris branch is a branch of State Street Global Advisors Ireland Limited, registered in Ireland with company number 145221, authorized and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, and whose registered office is at 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2. State Street Global Advisors Ireland Limited, Paris Branch, is registered in France with company number RCS Nanterre 832 734 602 and whose office is at Immeuble Défense Plaza, 23-25 rue Delarivière-Lefoullon, 92064 Paris La Défense Cedex, France. T: (+33) 1 44 45 40 00. F: (+33) 1 44 45 41 92.

Germany: State Street Global Advisors GmbH, Brienner Strasse 59, D-80333 Munich. Authorized and regulated by the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (“BaFin”). Registered with the Register of Commerce Munich HRB 121381. T: +49 (0)89 55878 400. F: +49 (0)89 55878 440.

Hong Kong: State Street Global Advisors Asia Limited, 68/F, Two International Finance Centre, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong. T: +852 2103-0288. F: +852 2103 0200.

Ireland: State Street Global Advisors Ireland Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Registered office address 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2. Registered number 145221. T: +353 (0)1 776 3000. F: +353 (0)1 776 3300.

Italy: State Street Global Advisors Ireland Limited, Milan Branch (Sede Secondaria di Milano) is a branch of State Street Global Advisors Ireland Limited, registered in Ireland with company number 145221, authorized and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, and whose registered office is at 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2. State Street Global Advisors Ireland Limited, Milan Branch (Sede Secondaria di Milano), is registered in Italy with company number 10495250960 - R.E.A. 2535585 and VAT number 10495250960and whose office is at Via dei Bossi, 4 - 20121 Milano, Italy. T: +39 02 32066 100. F: +39 02 32066 155.

Japan: State Street Global Advisors (Japan) Co., Ltd., Toranomon Hills Mori Tower 25F 1-23-1 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-6325 Japan, T: +81-3-4530-7380 Financial Instruments Business Operator, Kanto Local Financial Bureau (Kinsho #345) , Membership: Japan Investment Advisers Association, The Investment Trust Association, Japan, Japan Securities Dealers’ Association.

Netherlands: State Street Global Advisors Netherlands, Apollo Building, 7th floor Herikerbergweg 29 1101 CN Amsterdam, Netherlands. Telephone: 31 20 7181701. SSGA Netherlands is a branch office of State Street Global Advisors Ireland Limited, registered in Ireland with company number 145221, authorized and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, and whose registered office is at 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2.

Singapore: State Street Global Advisors Singapore Limited, 168, Robinson Road, #33-01 Capital Tower, Singapore 068912 (Company Reg. No: 200002719D, regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore). Telephone: +65 6826 7555. F: +65 6826 7501.

Switzerland: State Street Global Advisors AG, Beethovenstr. 19, CH-8027 Zurich. Authorized and regulated by the Eidgenössische Finanzmarktaufsicht (“FINMA”). Registered with the Register of Commerce Zurich CHE-105.078.458. T: +41 (0)44 245 70 00. Facsimile F: +41 (0)44 245 70 16.

United Kingdom: State Street Global Advisors Limited. Authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England. Registered No. 2509928. VAT No. 5776591 81. Registered office: 20 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HJ. T: 020 3395 6000. F: 020 3395 6350.

United States: State Street Global Advisors, One Iron Street, Boston MA 02210. T: +1 617 786 3000. 

The views expressed in this material are the views of Rakhi Kumar through the period ended March 18, 2019 and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. The information provided does not constitute investment advice and it should not be relied on as such. It should not be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell a security. It does not take into account any investor’s particular investment objectives, strategies, tax status or investment horizon. You should consult your tax and financial advisor. All material has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. There is no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information and State Street shall have no liability for decisions based on such information. This document contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

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Exp. Date: 03/31/2020