Investment Institute

AGM season 2023: New challenges highlight the achievements of responsible investors

  • 07 August 2023 (7 min read)

Key points:

  • There has been a revolution in corporate annual shareholder meetings over recent years. Companies have been encouraged towards higher standards of reporting and behaviour by responsible investors
  • The most recent AGM season has seen intriguing themes emerge around the appropriateness of pay deals, a divergence in ESG resolutions and concerns around the role of voting
  • The scenario for annual meetings is now more complex, with competing interests at play, but we see this as a reflection of the strides made to put sustainability and good governance at the heart of corporate decision making

The landscape for corporate governance has seen a revolution over the past few decades. It used to be the case that annual general meetings (AGMs) were sleepy affairs where company resolutions were generally rubber-stamped by shareholders with little appetite to rock the boat. However, a series of governance crises at the beginning of this century and a concurrent evolution in regulation have encouraged asset managers and other institutions to deepen their expertise in the governance field – and driven corporates to improve their accountability to shareholders.

In many ways, it has been a triumph of responsible investment. Active, engaged investors have managed to spotlight the potential risks and opportunities linked to environmental, social and governance (ESG) themes and make them part of the mainstream debate around corporate performance. Now, rather than sleepy AGMs, we see active, complex and material consideration of investor concerns which we think serves to benefit all stakeholders over the short and long term.

Traditional governance topics continue to develop, including the steady evolution of ‘say-on-pay’ votes across various geographies. Most notable, though, has been the integration of shareholder expectations around ESG, reflected either through the multiplication of ESG-related proposals submitted by shareholders, or through the early development of ‘say-on-climate’ resolutions submitted by companies, often after pressure from their investors.

AGMs are now an unmissable opportunity for dialogue between shareholders, corporate leadership and, increasingly, civil society. In this paper, we discuss three major trends from the 2023 meeting season that highlight how ESG topics are increasingly entwined in the meeting process and how shareholder voting has become a concrete avenue to enact meaningful stewardship of assets.

Read the full article
Download report (599.47 KB)

Related Articles


We need to talk about asset managers’ ESG credibility problem

  • by Hans Stoter
  • 15 May 2023 (7 min read)

New experts, new perspectives: Macroeconomics, climate and biodiversity

  • by Chris Iggo
  • 18 April 2023 (7 min read)

Why investing in biodiversity means looking at the solutions, not just the problems

  • by Tom Atkinson , Ashley Keet
  • 17 April 2023 (5 min read)


    This website is published by AXA Investment Managers Asia (Singapore) Ltd. (Registration No. 199001714W) for general circulation and informational purposes only. It does not constitute investment research or financial analysis relating to transactions in financial instruments, nor does it constitute on the part of AXA Investment Managers or its affiliated companies an offer to buy or sell any investments, products or services, and should not be considered as solicitation or investment, legal or tax advice, a recommendation for an investment strategy or a personalized recommendation to buy or sell securities. It has been prepared without taking into account the specific personal circumstances, investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any particular person and may be subject to change without notice. Please consult your financial or other professional advisers before making any investment decision.

    Due to its simplification, this publication is partial and opinions, estimates and forecasts herein are subjective and subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee forecasts made will come to pass. Data, figures, declarations, analysis, predictions and other information in this publication is provided based on our state of knowledge at the time of creation of this publication. Whilst every care is taken, no representation or warranty (including liability towards third parties), express or implied, is made as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information contained herein. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the recipient. This material does not contain sufficient information to support an investment decision.

    All investment involves risk, including the loss of capital. The value of investments and the income from them can fluctuate and investors may not get back the amount originally invested. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance.

    Some of the Services and/or products may not be available for offer to retail investors.

    This publication has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.