Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures
Fort Washington Investment Advisors, Inc., (the "Adviser") shall vote proxies related to securities held by our clients for which we serve as the investment adviser in the best interest of our clients. All references in these Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures are limited solely to clients for which we have agreed to vote such proxies. A client may reserve to itself the right to vote proxies.
The Adviser's authority to vote the proxies of certain clients is established by advisory contracts or comparable documents. In addition to requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") governing advisers, our proxy voting policies reflect the fiduciary standards and responsibilities for ERISA accounts.
The Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (the "Advisers Act"), requires us to act solely in the best interest of our clients at all times. We have adopted and implemented these Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures, which we believe are reasonably designed to ensure that proxies are voted in the best interest of clients, in accordance with our fiduciary duties and Rule 206(4)-6 under the Advisers Act.
Reflecting a basic investment philosophy that good management is shareholder focused, proxy votes will generally be cast in support of management on routine corporate matters and in support of any management proposal that is plainly in the interest of all shareholders. Specifically, proxy votes generally will be cast in favor of proposals that:
- maintain or strengthen the shared interests of stockholders and management;
- increase shareholder value; and
- maintain or increase shareholder rights generally.
Proxy votes will generally be cast against proposals having the opposite effect of the above. Where we perceive that a management proposal, if approved, would tend to limit or reduce the market value of the company's securities, we will generally vote against it. We believe that means for ensuring management accountability to shareholders, in the rare cases where it is threatened, must not be compromised. For issues regarding executive compensation, we generally rely on the research and recommendation of our third party voting agent.
We generally support shareholder rights and recapitalization measures undertaken unilaterally by boards of directors properly exercising their responsibilities and authority, unless we believe such measures could have the effect of reducing shareholder rights or potential shareholder value. In cases where shareholder proposals challenge such actions, our voting position will generally favor not interfering with the directors' proper function in the interest of all shareholders.
We believe that proposals addressing strictly social or political issues are immaterial to the goal of maximizing the return on funds under our management. We will generally abstain from voting on such proposals, but will consider supporting proposals that seek to protect shareholder rights or minimize risks to shareholder value.
We review proxies to assess the extent, if any, to which there may be a material conflict between the interests of our clients on the one hand and our interests (including those of our affiliates, directors, officers, employees and other similar persons) on the other hand (a "potential conflict"). If we determine that a potential conflict may exist, it shall be reported to our Proxy Voting Committee. The Proxy Voting Committee shall determine whether a potential conflict exists and is authorized to resolve any such conflict in a manner that is in the collective best interests of our clients (excluding any client that may have a potential conflict). Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Proxy Voting Committee may resolve a potential conflict in any of the following manners:
- If the proposal that is the subject of the proposed conflict is specifically addressed in these Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures, we may vote the proxy in accordance with such pre-determined policies and guidelines; provided that such pre-determined policy involves little discretion on our part:
- We may engage an independent third-party to determine how the proxy should be voted: or
- We may establish an ethical wall or other informational barriers between the person(s) that are involved in the potential conflict and the person(s) making the voting decision in order to insulate the potential conflict from the decision maker.
We may delegate our responsibilities under these Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures to a third party, provided that we retain final authority and fiduciary responsibility for proxy voting. If we so delegate our responsibilities, we shall monitor the delegate's compliance with these Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures.
We (and our employees) and/or an independent third party provider shall vote in a prudent and timely fashion.
We will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine whether a potential conflict may exist.
We may abstain from voting a client proxy if we conclude that the effect on shareholders' economic interests or the value of the portfolio holding is indeterminable or insignificant. We may abstain from voting a client proxy for cost reasons (e.g., costs associated with voting proxies of non-U.S. securities). In accordance with our fiduciary duties, we will weigh the costs and benefits of voting proxy proposals and make an informed decision with respect to whether voting a given proxy proposal is prudent. Our decision takes into account the effect that the vote of our clients, either by itself or together with other votes, is expected to have on the value of our client's investment and whether this expected effect would outweigh the cost of voting.
Unless otherwise directed by a client, we are responsible for voting proxies related to securities that we manage for clients with respect to which we have accepted proxy-voting responsibility in writing. A client may from time to time direct us to vote proxies in a manner that is different from the guidelines set forth in these Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures. We will follow such written direction for proxies received after our receipt of such written direction.
We shall maintain certain records required by applicable law in connection with proxy voting activities and shall provide proxy-voting information to a client for which we are responsible for voting proxies upon written request. Clients should contact our Director of Client Services to make such a request.
Our Proxy Voting Procedures and Policy will be reviewed annually. The Proxy Policy Committee will review present procedures and past decisions with the aim of developing the most coherent and understandable proxy voting policy possible. We believe that a careful and continually evolving policy is indispensable to the task of discharging our fiduciary duties as an investment advisor.