We recognise our rights and responsibilities as an asset owner, and in particular as a shareholder, as an integral part of our commitment to responsible investment.
We believe that ESG considerations, especially good corporate governance and transparency towards shareholders, are key drivers for sustainable value creation. Therefore, we review our voting principles periodically to keep them aligned with best practice.
In the case of internally managed equities, we use our influence as a responsible shareholder by directly exercising our voting rights and, with externally managed portfolios, by facilitating the relevant portfolio managers to execute our proxy votes and related engagement activities.
In line with our voting framework, we review the voting policies of external managers during due diligence processes to confirm compliance with our own policy. In addition, external managers are required to report on voting activities conducted on Swiss Re’s behalf.
In 2016, we exercised 99% of our voting rights of our listed equity portfolio3. We voted on 7 103 voting items through our external managers. We voted in favour of the respective management resolution in 6 305 cases (89%) and against it in 585 cases (8%). In 213 cases (3%), we abstained or withheld from voting.
In addition to shares in listed companies, investments in our equity portfolio include equity exchange-traded-funds (ETFs). The fund managers cast votes on these ETFs for all investors in accordance with the fund managers’ own voting policies and processes.
3 We vote in all countries, with the exception of a few where voting process and regulatory obligations require a high level of administrative coordination.