Conversations with investors over the last 18 months or so have thrown up interesting questions around the role and status of stewardship and engagement, prompting Responsible Investor to try to dig a little deeper with our latest survey.

There have been hints from some quarters at a slightly diminished role for those engaging on sustainability issues. Inflationary concerns and record oil prices have shifted priorities, leaving sustainability considerations, perhaps, marginalised.

One investor went so far as to say that unless there was a portfolio manager in the room during an engagement little traction was likely to be achieved with corporates.

Others have become more candid about what can be achieved by engagement alone, particularly when it comes to systemic issues such as climate change.

This was echoed by one UK investor who recently told RI that focusing on one complex systemic risk had led it to engage with companies it did not own on an issue it had little influence over. Going forward, they said, they would dedicate more resources to responding to controversies at companies they did hold.

Others have raised concerns about the quality of disclosure by some asset managers when it comes to their stewardship efforts and what this may indicate about the underlying processes behind it. (See RI’s recent feature on the return of engagement.)

The size and configuration of stewardship teams seems to be changing for some too, with one investor RI is aware of seeking to decentralise its engagement team so that those with such expertise are more embedded within investment teams.

RI wants to find out if this small sample is reflective of wider trends and is calling on investors and other market players to share their views anonymously via our survey.

The survey will close in May with the results shared shortly after.