Ahead of the 2020 proxy voting season, the main environmental, social and governance (ESG) themes due to be considered were relatively predictable. What could not have been predicted was the significant impact that the COVID-19 pandemic would have on the global economy, and in turn, on the proxy voting season itself.
Formal shareholder approval of certain agenda items may seem insignificant during a global crisis, when many businesses were fighting to survive. Nonetheless, for most companies, shareholder approval for certain matters were still required by law to take place within a set period.
Against this backdrop, an extraordinary voting season unfolded, with companies and regulators taking unprecedented measures to adapt both the processes and content of their meetings.
The value of investments and any income derived from them can go down as well as up and investors may not get back the original amount invested.
Views and opinions have been arrived at by BMO Global Asset Management and should not be considered to be a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any companies that may be mentioned.