Early October, AMAS and SSF published the Swiss Stewardship Code, a set of guidelines designed to promote the active exercise of shareholder rights in Switzerland. Ethos is pleased to have been able to contribute to the development and drafting of this code of conduct by actively participating in the working group. Active ownership is fundamental for effective investment and the promotion of sustainable business models. Ethos encourages all institutional investors to adhere to the principles of the code.
Early October, the Asset Management Association Switzerland (AMAS) and Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF) presented the first Swiss Stewardship Code at a round table organised during the Building Bridges conference in Geneva and with the participation of Ethos' Head of International Engagement Matthias Narr. The aim of this code is to enable Swiss institutional investors to exert an active and positive influence on the companies of which they are co-owners, in order to achieve financial as well as sustainable and measurable environmental and social performance. The code contains nine principles.
Active ownership, more specifically the exercise of voting rights at annual general meetings and the dialogue with companies and regulators, has established itself as an essential approach to sus-tainable and responsible investment in recent years. It enables investors to have a constructive and positive impact on their investee companies’ approach for addressing the environmental, social and governance issues they face, while managing their own sustainability-related risks as effectively as possible. A concept known as double materiality.
For Ethos and a growing number of entities in the investment industry, the exercise of voting rights is an integral part of the fiduciary duty of institutional investors. It was therefore more necessary than ever to provide them with clear and detailed tools and guidelines for exercising their new obligations as effectively as possible.
To this end, AMAS and SSF set up a working group bringing together the various stakeholders, namely asset owners, asset managers and service providers in the field of active ownership. The Swiss Stewardship Code was drawn up in the form of recommendations for the Swiss financial centre. It defines contemporary active ownership and lays the foundations for a more intensive exercise of shareholder rights by Swiss financial entities, as well as for greater transparency and comparability.
However, the Code does not take the form of binding guidelines. It provides recommendations that are applicable on a voluntary basis and describes the key elements of effective and successful active ownership. It is based on the Global Stewardship Principles of the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN), the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the UK Stew-ardship Code, which are international benchmarks for investors' active ownership activities.