Investors get different perspective from year-round engagement, says Regions Financial governance head

Dec 17, 2019
Highlights from the Corporate Governance Awards 2019

Off-season governance engagement continues to evolve, and for Regions Financial Corporation that means directors are increasingly getting out on the road to meet with investors, says Hope Mehlman, the company’s executive vice president and chief governance officer.

Mehlman won the governance professional of the year (large cap) prize at the Corporate Governance Awards last month. Regions Financial was also nominated in the best shareholder engagement category and Mehlman’s colleague, Kevin Coleman, was nominated for the rising star award.

Speaking to Corporate Secretary at the Corporate Governance Awards, Mehlman explained that the company takes a proactive approach to shareholder engagement and focuses on engagement ‘on a clear day’, rather than waiting for there to be a problem.

‘We’ve seen [shareholder engagement] evolve from our calls with shareholders to now taking an approach where we engage with our shareholders throughout the year,’ Mehlman said. She explained that the company aims to attend conferences hosted by the likes of the Council of Institutional Investors, the University of Delaware and the Stanford Institutional Investors’ Forum.

‘One thing we’ve really done is upped our game in terms of our directors – they’ve been doing a lot of shareholder engagement in-person,’ Mehlman continued. ‘We believe it’s important for our directors to hear what our shareholders have to say and to interact with them.’

Mehlman also explained that through more extensive shareholder engagement, the company has developed a clearer picture on what its investors want in terms of ESG information. For instance, last month Regions Financial issued its first Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) report – making it a trailblazer in the finance sector.

‘A lot of what we’ve included is what we’ve heard from our institutional shareholders,’ Mehlman said. ‘We’ve asked them what they think is important for us as a financial institution.’

An SASB spokesperson confirmed to IR Magazine last week that, one year since the launch of the formal standards, 120 companies are using them for their ESG reporting.

Click here to view the video interview.

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