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Baillie Gifford is unique in the UK in being a large-scale investment business that has remained an independent private partnership. This ownership structure has allowed us to keep our efforts focused entirely on our clients and their investments.
RECLAIMING ACTIVISM FOR LONG-TERM GROWTH INVESTORS
Baillie Gifford's over-arching ethos is that we are 'actual' investors. We have a responsibility to behave as supportive and constructively engaged long-term investors. We invest in companies at different stages in their evolution, across vastly different industries and geographies and we celebrate their uniqueness. Consequently, we are wary of prescriptive policies and rules, believing that these often run counter to thoughtful and beneficial corporate stewardship. Our approach favours a small number of simple principles which help shape our interactions with companies.
OUR STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLES
Prioritisation of long-term value creation
We encourage company management and their boards to be ambitious and focus their investments on long-term value creation. We understand that it is easy for businesses to be influenced by short-sighted demands for profit maximisation but believe these often lead to sub-optimal long-term outcomes. We regard it as our responsibility to steer businesses away from destructive financial engineering towards activities that create genuine economic value over the long run. We are happy that our value will often be in supporting management when others don’t.
A constructive and purposeful board
We believe that boards play a key role in supporting corporate success and representing the interests of minority shareholders. There is no fixed formula, but it is our expectation that boards have the resources, cognitive diversity and information they need to fulfil these responsibilities. We believe that a board works best when there is strong independent representation able to assist, advise and constructively test the thinking of management.
Long-term focused remuneration with stretching targets
We look for remuneration policies that are simple, transparent and reward superior strategic and operational endeavour. We believe incentive schemes can be important in driving behaviour, and we encourage policies which create alignment with genuine long-term shareholders. We are accepting of significant pay-outs to executives if these are commensurate with outstanding long-run value creation, but plans should not reward mediocre outcomes. We think that performance hurdles should be skewed towards long-term results and that remuneration plans should be subject to shareholder approval.
Fair treatment of stakeholders
We believe it is in the long-term interests of companies to maintain strong relationships with all stakeholders, treating employees, customers, suppliers, governments and regulators in a fair and transparent manner. We do not believe in one-size-fits-all governance and we recognise that different shareholder structures are appropriate for different businesses. However, regardless of structure, companies must always respect the rights of all equity owners.
Sustainable business practices
We look for companies to act as responsible corporate citizens, working within the spirit and not just the letter of the laws and regulations that govern them. We believe that corporate success will only be sustained if a business’s long-run impact on society and the environment is taken into account. Management and boards should therefore understand and regularly review this aspect of their activities, disclosing such information publicly alongside plans for ongoing improvement.