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Bob Smith, Sage Advisory

Sage’s 2021 stewardship survey finds high level of DEI inclusion in ETF providers

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Texas-headquartered ETF asset manager SAGE Advisory is compiling the results of its annual stewardship survey for 2021. So far CIO & President Bob Smith (pictured) and Research Analyst Emma Harper report three key highlights, with the full survey results due in early July. 

The firm found that there is a heightened focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) issues. For the 2021 survey, SAGE added a DEI section to determine which ETF providers are committed to diversity and inclusion at all levels within their workforce, and 88 per cent of ETF providers received a perfect score. 

Voting for the 2021 survey also improved, with 42 per cent of repeat ETF respondents having an improved score, while 84 per cent did the same or better than last year. Some 88 per cent of ETF Providers indicated that ESG factors impact voting decisions. 

The firm writes that how a company’s stewardship team was structured had no bearing on its stewardship score; in other words, there is more than one way to have a successful stewardship process. SAGE notes that stewardship teams can either be categorised as centralised or decentralised. Centralised stewardship teams had responsibility for knowledge of ESG issues and best practices, as well as engagement with portfolio companies and proxy voting. 

Decentralised stewardship teams operated in more of an advisory capacity to portfolio management teams, who would engage with portfolio companies and vote proxies.  

This year’s survey consisted of 34 questions covering categories of interest from proxy voting practices to diversity and inclusion policies maintained by each participating Sponsor. 

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