High standards of business conduct safeguards the fund’s investments and assets in the long term. We work with international standards and principles and communicate our expectations to companies. Research helps increase understanding of factors that can affect future returns.
The companies we invest in are affected by a variety of regulations and standards. The development of standards will often contribute to positive developments at the companies we invest in. The fund is also affected more directly through our participation in financial markets. Well-functioning financial markets are therefore important in achieving the objective for the management of the fund.
Norges Bank Investment Management believes that international standards and effective market regulation over time lead to better market practices and well-functioning markets. We recognise a set of key international principles and standards, which we, as a starting point and where appropriate, base our practice on.
We participate in the further development of international standards and expect the companies we invest in to strive to observe them. The G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the UN Global Compact are examples of such standards.
Industry and market standards
We also work with standards covering sectors, specific markets or topics such as corporate disclosure or corporate governance, as well as other standards that are narrower in scope. Such standards can aid in the promotion of good company practices. They are often developed by trade associations or companies, but may also be produced in partnerships between companies, authorities, investors and non-governmental organisations.
We aim to contribute to the development of best practices and therefore participate in consultations by regulators and other organisations on the development of various standards. We expect the companies we invest in to comply with the laws and regulations of the countries and markets they operate in.
Financial market regulation
As a long-term owner the fund is affected by the regulation of financial markets. Therefore, we engage with regulators and participate in consultations on new rules where we believe this is appropriate for the fund from the viewpoint of well-functioning markets. We have published an analysis of the basis for well-functioning financial markets and why well-functioning markets are important for achieving the long-term objective for the management of the fund.
Our principles and expectations
We express our expectations towards companies through publicly communicated documents and by engaging directly with companies.
A company's board and management are responsible for its strategy and operations. It is therefore appropriate for us to engage in dialogue with the company's representatives, without attempting to micro-manage the company. A shareholder may nevertheless raise questions and elaborate on expectations through regular company meetings.
Overarching principles and guidelines
The principles for responsible investment management in Norges Bank Investment Management are laid down by the Executive Board. The principles are in line with the management mandate laid down by the Ministry of Finance. The principles provide guidelines for standard setting, ownership, risk and the exclusion of companies.
We have published expectations documents in our focus areas of climate change management, water management and children's rights. We have also published expectation documents for human rights, tax and transparency, anti-corruption and ocean sustainability. The documents set out our expectations for how companies should manage risk in these areas. We are particularly interested in companies’ governance processes and disclosures. Each year, we assess the extent to which companies in industries with high exposure to these risks meet these expectations. The survey is used partly as a basis for feedback and dialogue with individual companies.
We publish position papers on specific aspects of corporate governance. The papers form the basis for our voting on relevant topics and serve as a starting point for discussion with companies and standard setters.
Our voting guidelines
Voting is an important channel for shareholder influence. Our voting guidelines state, among other things, that we are to vote at all general meetings unless there are significant practical obstacles, and that we are to publish how we voted. See how we have voted.
We vote in keeping with the fund's long-term interests. We base our voting on publicly available information but will also enter into dialogue with a company where necessary. We take account of individual companies' unique characteristics, and as a responsible investor we promote long-term value creation, sustainable business practices, board accountability, shareholder rights, equal treatment of shareholders and transparent corporate communication.
Responsible investment research
Academic research can increase the understanding of issues that can affect future return. We promote research to increase knowledge and understanding of relationships between governance, social and environmental issues, and financial risk and return. We collaborate with academic institutions to obtain independent analyses of high quality.
Collaboration with academic institutions
We work with academic institutions because this gives us access to independent and established expertise, along with processes for quality assurance. We also aim to integrate expertise from industry and non-governmental organisations to strengthen the research projects. The results of the projects are taken into account in the operational management of the fund wherever relevant.
Norges Bank Investment Management has published a series of discussion notes relevant to various aspects of its investment management. The aim of these papers is to summarise the results of academic research and their relevance for the management of the fund in order to contribute to discussion of targets and strategies. The discussion notes are reviewed by external academics before publication in order to ensure high standards of quality and external input.