Shareholders ignore governance guidance and appoint Schroder heir

Leonie Schroder had been criticised for her lack of City experience

Shareholders have overwhelmingly voted to approve the late Bruno Schroder’s daughter to the board, going against advice from an influential proxy adviser that she was unqualified for the role.

The resolution to install Leonie Schroder on the board was passed at the FTSE 100 fund group’s annual general meeting on 2 May with 97% of shareholders voting in favour of the proposal.

It received more support than the re-election of chair Michael Dobson, another controversial resolution given his 15-year history as Schroder’s chief executive.

The heir to the Schroders empire had been tipped to succeed her father, who had served as a director since 1963, following his death in March.

At the time, the firm’s board said it had been contemplating a successor for Schroder, who would have retired on 2 May 2019, since last year and his daughter had emerged as the “preferred candidate” after consulting with trustees of the family trusts and the principal shareholder group, the Schroder family.

The Schroder family remain the largest single shareholder in the business, owning 48% of the firm.

Proxy adviser Glass Lewis had been urging shareholders to vote against her board appointment.

Writing to shareholders a week before the firm’s AGM, it questioned whether Schroder had sufficient experience to warrant a seat in the boardroom.

Companies House filings show Schroder has directorship experience with various family activities and charities, including the Red Squirrel Survival Trust. But she has little City experience.

“We do not believe a sufficiently robust rationale has been presented for the election of nominee Schroder,” Glass Lewis concluded in the report to shareholders.

“[We] question whether, in representing her family interests, she has sufficient core industry or sector experience to effectively challenge management.”

All of the 20 resolutions put before shareholders at the AGM were passed, including a remuneration report which Glass Lewis also opposed in light of a multi-million pound bonus being awarded to current chief executive Peter Harrison last year.

The proxy adviser also called for Dobson’s removal from the board for proposing the appointment of Schroder’s daughter.

Glass Lewis said it does not comment on meeting outcomes.

  • This story first appeared on ESG Clarity‘s sister site, Portfolio Adviser.