Governance

Corporate Governance Statement

Statement of Compliance

The Company is committed to maintaining high standards of corporate governance and considers that reporting against the principles and recommendations of the AIC Code of Corporate Governance issued in February 2019 (the ‘AIC Code’), provides better information to shareholders as it addresses all the principles set out in the 2018 UK Corporate Governance Code (the ‘UK Code’), as well as setting out additional principles and recommendations on issues that are of specific relevance to investment trusts, and is endorsed by the Financial Reporting Council (the ‘FRC’). The AIC Code has been voluntarily followed by the Company.. The AIC Code is available from the AIC website at theaic.co.uk. A copy of the UK Code can be obtained at frc.org.uk. It includes an explanation of how the AIC Code adapts the Principles and Provisions set out in the UK Code to make them relevant for investment companies.

The Board recognises the importance of a strong corporate governance culture and has established a framework for corporate governance which it considers to be appropriate.

The UK Code includes provisions relating to:

  • the role of the chief executive; and
  • executive directors’ remuneration.

For the reasons set out in the AIC Code, the Board considers these provisions not relevant to the position of the Company, being an externally managed REIT. In particular, all of the Company’s day-to-day management and administrative functions are outsourced to third parties. As a result, the Company has no executive directors, employees or internal operations. The Company has therefore not reported further in respect of these provisions.

The Board has reviewed the principles and recommendations of the AIC Code and considers that the Company has complied with these throughout the year, except as disclosed below:

  • given the size of the Board, it is not considered necessary to appoint a senior independent director.
  • given the structure and size of the Board, the Board does not consider it necessary to appoint separate remuneration and nomination committees. The roles and responsibilities normally reserved for these committees are matters for the Board.

 

Responsibilities

The Board is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Group’s investment policy and has oversight of the management and conduct of the Group’s business, strategy and development.

The Board is also responsible for the control and supervision of the AIFM and the Investment Adviser and compliance with the principles and recommendations of the AIC Code. The Board ensures the maintenance of a sound system of internal controls and risk management (including financial, operational and compliance controls) and reviews the overall effectiveness of the systems in place throughout the year and no problems have been identified. The Board is responsible for approval of any changes to the capital, corporate and/or management structure of the Group.

The Board’s main focus is the sustainable long-term success of the Group to deliver value for shareholders. The Board does not routinely involve itself in day to day business decisions.

The AIFM is responsible for portfolio management (including compliance with the Group’s investment policy) and risk management of the Group pursuant to the AIFMD, including the implementation and review of adequate risk management systems. The AIFM has delegated the day to day portfolio management of the Group to the Investment Adviser, including the acquisition of PRS development sites and completed PRS sites and appointing and liaising with third parties providing services to the Group. The Investment Adviser also provides certain development management services to the Group, in connection with the construction and delivery of new PRS units.

The key matters reserved to the Board are:

  • Board membership and powers including the appointment and removal of Board members;
  • establishing the overall control framework, Stock Exchange related matters, including the approval of communications to the Stock Exchange, and communications with shareholders, other than announcements of a routine nature;
  • the appointment, termination, and regular assessment of the performance of the principal advisers, including the AIFM, Investment Adviser, legal and tax advisers, administrator, valuer, financial adviser and broker, registrar and Auditor;
  • the approval of annual and half yearly financial reports, to 31 December and 30 June respectively, dividends, accounting policies and significant changes in accounting practices;
  • the review of the adequacy of corporate governance procedure;
  • the review of the risk management systems and the effectiveness of internal controls;
  • approval of changes to the Group’s capital structure, dividend policy, treasury policy, borrowing facilities and any banking relationships;
  • approval of any related party transactions subject to further regulatory requirements; and
  • oversight of the Group’s operations ensuring compliance with statutory and regulatory obligations.

The Investment Adviser has autonomy for investment decisions within the terms of the Investment Agreement.

The Board has carried out a robust assessment of the emerging principal risks affecting the business, including those which would threaten its business model, future performance, solvency or liquidity. Details of these risks and their management are set out in the annual financial statements.

The Board has reviewed the effectiveness of the AIFM and Investment Adviser’s compliance and control systems in operation insofar as they relate to the affairs of the Group and further reviews the arrangements with the Depository to ensure the safeguarding of the Company’s assets and security of the shareholders’ investment is being maintained.

As the Company principally invests in property assets, the Board does not consider that there is any need to determine a separate remit for the Investment Adviser regarding voting and corporate governance issues in respect of investee companies. While the Company has a number of subsidiary undertakings these are all special purpose vehicles set up for the purposes of holding property assets and are all wholly owned and controlled by the Company.

 

Internal Control Review

The Board is responsible for the systems of internal controls relating to the Company, including the reliability of the financial reporting process, and for reviewing the systems’ effectiveness. The Directors have reviewed and considered the guidance supplied by the FRC on risk management, internal control and related finance and business reporting and an ongoing process is in place for identifying, evaluating and managing the principal and emerging risks faced by the Company. This process, together with key procedures established with a view to providing effective financial control, was in place during the year under review and at the date of this report.

The internal control systems are designed to ensure that proper accounting records are maintained, that the financial information on which business decisions are made and which is issued for publication is reliable, and that the assets of the Company are safeguarded.

The risk management process and systems of internal control are designed to manage rather than eliminate the risk of failure to achieve the Company’s objectives. It should be recognised that such systems can only provide reasonable, not absolute, assurance against material misstatement or loss.

The Directors have carried out a review of the effectiveness of the systems of internal control as they have operated over the period and up to the date of approval of the Annual Report and Financial Statements. There were no matters arising from this review that required further investigation and no significant failings or weaknesses were identified. The internal control systems do not eliminate risk and can only provide reasonable assurance against misstatement or loss.

 

Internal Control Assessment Process

Robust risk assessments and reviews of internal controls are undertaken regularly in the context of the Company’s overall investment objective.

The following are the key internal controls which the Company has in place:

  • a risk register has been produced against which identified and emerging risks and the controls in place to mitigate those risks can be monitored;
  • a procedure to monitor the compliance status of the Company to ensure that it can continue to be approved as a REIT;
  • the Investment Manager and the Administrator prepare forecasts and management accounts which allow the Board to assess performance;
  • the controls employed by the Investment Manager and other third party service providers, are periodically reviewed by the Audit Committee; and there are agreed and defined investment criteria, specified levels of authority and exposure limits in relation to investments, leverage and payments.

The risks of any failure of internal controls are identified in the risk register, which is regularly reviewed by the Board which also assesses the impact of such risks. The principal and emerging risks and uncertainties identified from the risk register can be found in the annual financial statements.

 

Investment Adviser

The Board appointed the Investment Adviser, Sigma PRS Management Ltd (“Sigma PRS”), in May 2017 to provide investment advice and to manage the property portfolio and the associated day to day activities of the Company. The Investment Adviser is part of the Sigma Capital Group, a leading provider of PRS properties in the UK. As a wholly owned subsidiary of Sigma Capital Group plc, the Investment Adviser benefits from the extensive experience and expertise of the Sigma Capital Group with access to its PRS property platform to source investment opportunities that meet the investment objectives of the Company, management of all properties within the portfolio, and providing marketing and investor relations services to the Company.

The agreement with the Investment Adviser is terminable on not less than 12 months’ notice by either party, such notice not to expire earlier than 31 May 2023. The performance of the Investment Adviser has been reviewed on an ongoing basis throughout the period by the Board at its quarterly meetings. The Board considers a number of factors including investment performance, the skills and experience of key staff and the capability and resources of the Investment Adviser to deliver satisfactory performance for the Company in accordance with its Investment Objective. The Board is satisfied with the performance of the Investment Adviser and considers its continued appointment on the terms agreed to be in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders as a whole.

 

Annual report and financial statements

The Directors have responsibility for preparing the annual report and financial statements. Each of the Directors considers that, taken as a whole, the annual report and financial statements are fair, balanced and understandable and provide the information necessary for shareholders to assess the Group’s position and performance, business model and strategy.

 

Board membership and meeting attendance

For the most up to date board membership and meeting attendance, please see the last annual report on our Reports and Circulars page.

 

Composition

The Group has a non-executive Chairman and three other non-executive Directors all of whom were considered independent on and since their appointment. All of the Directors are independent of the Investment Adviser and the AIFM. Although certain of the Directors share non-executive roles in another organisation this is not considered a risk to their independence in respect of the PRS REIT as there is not a significant link.

Steve Smith is the Chairman of the Company. The Chairman is responsible for leadership and oversight of the Board to ensure that it functions effectively. Steve ensures that accurate, timely and clear information is received and sufficient time is given in meetings to review all agenda items thoroughly. He promotes constructive debate and facilitates a supportive, co-operative and open environment between the Investment Adviser and the Directors. He is also responsible for ensuring that the Company’s obligations to its shareholders are understood and met.

The non-executive Directors hold, or have held, senior positions in industry and commerce and contribute a wide range of skills, experience and objective perspective to the Board. Through the Board committees, the non-executive Directors bring focus and independence to strategy, governance, internal controls and risk management.

During the year, the Board was satisfied that all Directors were able to commit sufficient time to discharge their responsibilities effectively having given due consideration to the Directors’ external appointments. The Directors were advised on appointment of the expected time required to fulfil their roles and have confirmed that they remain able to make that commitment. All material changes in any Director’s commitments outside the Group are required to be, and have been, disclosed prior to the acceptance of any such appointment.

Directors are selected and appointed by the Board as a whole. There is no separate nomination committee as the Board is considered small relative to listed trading companies. The Directors are therefore responsible for reviewing the size, structure and skills of the Board and considering whether any changes are required or new appointments are necessary to meet the requirements of the Company’s business succession planning or to maintain a balanced Board.

In accordance with the Articles of Association, every person appointed as an additional Director during the course of the year must stand for re-election at the next Annual General Meeting (“AGM”). The Board follows the revised AIC Code of Corporate Governance that applies to financial periods commencing after 1 January 2019 and requires that all Directors will stand for re-election annually and that all Directors will not serve for a period of more than nine years in accordance with the UK Code.

 

Remuneration

Given that the Company has no executive Directors or other employees, the Board does not consider it necessary to establish a separate remuneration committee. The Board takes responsibility for reviewing the levels of remuneration set.

 

Board Committees

The Board has established a Management Engagement Committee and an Audit Committee.

The Audit Committee meets at least twice a year and reviews the scope and results of the external audit, its cost effectiveness and the independence and objectivity of the external Auditors, including the provision of non-audit services. The Audit Committee comprises 3 of the non-executive Directors given the size of the Board and to benefit from the broad range of financial, commercial and property sector experience which enables them to provide better oversight of financial and risk matters. Rod MacRae is Chairman of the Audit Committee.

The Management Engagement Committee comprises the full Board and keeps the terms of engagement with the AIFM and Investment Adviser under review and examines the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control systems and the performance of the AIFM, Investment Adviser, Administrator, Depositary, Company Secretary, valuer and other service providers. There were no changes to the terms of these engagements. The Management Engagement Committee comprises all of the Directors given the size of the Board but each member is independent of the AIFM and the Investment Adviser. Steve Smith is the Chairman of the Management Engagement Committee. The Management Engagement Committee receives reports and analyses from each of the Investment Adviser and AIFM and reviews these, making recommendations for change or requests for additional information where appropriate to ensure ongoing performance under the terms of their respective contractual arrangements. There were 2 Management Engagement Committee meetings during the year ended 30 June 2020 attended by all of the Directors.

The agreement with the Investment Adviser is terminable on not less than 12 months’ notice by either party, such notice not to expire earlier than 31 May 2023. The performance of the Investment Adviser has been reviewed on an ongoing basis throughout the period by the Board at its quarterly meetings. The Board considers a number of factors including investment performance, the skills and experience of key staff and the capability and resources of the Investment Adviser to deliver satisfactory performance for the Company in accordance with its Investment Objectives. The Board is satisfied with the performance of the Investment Adviser and considers its continued appointment to be in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders.

 

Board Meetings

During a full financial period, the Board will meet formally at least on a quarterly basis with additional meetings as the Board may decide from time to time dedicated to specific events. There were four meetings during the year ended 30 June 2020, attended by those Directors available at the time. The additional meetings in the year were in connection with the approval of the 2019 Annual Report and Financial Statements, and the debt facilities with both Scottish Widows Limited and Lloyds Banking Group / RBS.

Board papers are circulated by the Investment Adviser prior to each meeting to ensure that the Directors receive accurate, clear and timely information to help them to discharge their duties. For this purpose, the Board receives periodic reports from the AIFM and the Investment Adviser detailing the performance of the Group. The primary focus at the meetings are a review of investment opportunities, investment performance and associated matters such as gearing, asset allocation, level of the share price discount or premium, marketing and investor relations and industry issues.

 

Discussions of the Board

During the year ended 30 June 2020, the Board spent time discussing the following items:

  • health and safety
  • investment policy and objectives
  • the approval of debt facilities with Scottish Widows and Lloyds Banking Group / RBS
  • the Group’s corporate structure
  • the Group’s communication strategy
  • the key performance indicators by which the Group measures success
  • updates on relevant government or regulatory developments
  • review of quarterly management accounts
  • review of the Company’s share price rating, performance and trading and the Group’s NAV performance
  • analysis of the Company’s shareholder register
  • review of corporate governance compliance, Group subsidiary activity and Depositary report

The Investment Adviser attends the Board meetings. Representatives from the AIFM and the Company’s other advisers are also invited to attend Board meetings from time to time.

 

Performance Evaluation

The Directors recognise that the evaluation process is a significant opportunity to review the practices and performance of the Board, its committees and its individual Directors and to implement actions to improve the Board’s focus and effectiveness which contribute to the Group’s success.

The Board has undertaken an internal performance evaluation by way of a questionnaire designed to assess the strengths and effectiveness of the Board and its committees. The evaluation considered (amongst other things) the composition, balance and effectiveness of the Board, the quality of management information, the independence and the overall performance of the Board and its Committees. Each of the Directors completed a questionnaire which was then used to hold constructive discussions led by the Chairman.

Having conducted the evaluation, the Board considers that it has performed effectively and that it demonstrates a good balance of skills, performance and knowledge. The Board is also satisfied that the Chairman remains independent of the Investment Adviser and the AIFM and has exhibited a good leadership style, promoting effective decision-making, constructive debate and ensuring the board functions well as a unit. Whilst the Board recognises it could be more diverse, it does not consider it is in the best interests of shareholders to force diversity by imposing fixed criteria or quotas. The Board will continue to make appointments based on merit, having regard to a number of factors including gender, ethnicity, skills and experience. The Board will continue to monitor and encourage diversity.

 

Culture

The Directors are aware that establishing and maintaining a healthy culture amongst the Board and in its interaction with the Investment Adviser, other service providers, shareholders and other stakeholders will support the delivery of its purpose, values and investment strategy. The Board seeks to promote a culture of openness, transparency and integrity through ongoing dialogue and engagement with its stakeholders.

The Group has a number of policies and procedures in place to assist with maintaining a culture of good governance including those relating to diversity, Directors’ conflicts of interest and Directors’ dealings in the Company’s shares. The Board assesses and monitors compliance with these policies as well as the general culture of the Board regularly through Board meetings and in particular during the annual evaluation process. The Board seeks to appoint the best possible service providers and evaluates their service on a regular basis.

The Board considers the culture of the Investment Adviser and other service providers, including their policies, practices and behaviour, through regular reporting from these stakeholders and in particular during the annual review of the performance and continuing appointment of all service providers.

 

Conflicts of interest

The Group operates a conflicts of interest policy that has been approved by the Board and sets out the approach to be adopted and procedures to be followed where a Director, or such other persons to whom the Board has determined the policy applies, has an interest which conflicts, or potentially may conflict, with the interests of the Group. Under the policy and the Company’s Articles of Association, the Board may authorise potential conflicts that may arise, subject to imposing limits or conditions when giving authorisation if this is appropriate.

The Group reserves the right to withhold information relating, or relevant, to a conflict matter from the Director concerned, and/or to exclude the Director from any Board information, discussions or decisions which may or will relate to that matter of conflict, or where the Chairman considers that it would be inappropriate for a Director to take part in such discussion or decision, or receive such information. Procedures have been established to monitor actual and potential conflicts of interest on a regular basis and the Board is satisfied that these procedures are working effectively.

The AIFM and Investment Adviser maintain a policy to avoid and manage any conflicts of interest that may arise between themselves and the Group. The Investment Adviser has established a clear and robust framework to ensure that any conflicts of interest are appropriately governed that includes:

  • the Investment Adviser’s obligation to provide the Group with a right of first refusal on every investment opportunity meeting the Group’s investment policy with the intention that the Group undertakes not less than two-thirds of all such opportunities with the balance being developed by the Investment Adviser and forward sold to the Group
  • the Investment Adviser’s obligation to sell all stabilised investment assets to the Group on pre-agreed terms at a price equal to the market value determined by an independent valuation expert
  • other conflict matters, in particular regarding the value, quality or other terms relating to the acquisition of assets by the Group.

 

Professional development

All Directors received a comprehensive induction programme on joining the Board that covered the Investment Adviser’s investment approach, the role and responsibilities of a Director and guidance of corporate governance and applicable regulatory and legislative landscape. The Chairman regularly reviews and discusses the development needs with each Director. Each Director is fully aware that they should take responsibility for their own individual development needs and take the necessary steps to ensure they are wholly informed of regulatory and business developments.

 

Health and safety

Health and safety is of prime importance to the Group, and is considered equally with all other business management activities to ensure protection of stakeholders be they tenants, advisers, suppliers, visitors or others. The Board regularly discusses health and safety issues with the Investment Adviser. The Group is committed to fostering the highest standards in health and safety as it believes that all unsafe acts and unsafe conditions are preventable. All our stakeholders have a responsibility to support the aim of ensuring a secure and safe environment, and all our stakeholders are tasked with responsibility for achieving this commitment.

 

Transparency

The Company aims to be transparent, and to ensure that it communicates with its shareholders and other stakeholders in a manner that enhances their understanding of its business. The Company engages Sigma PRS to maintain accounting documentation that clearly identifies the true nature of all business transactions, assets and liabilities, in line with the relevant regulatory, reporting, accounting, and legal requirements. No record or entry is knowingly false, distorted, incomplete, or suppressed. All reporting is fair, reasonable, complete and in compliance in all material respects with stated accounting policies and procedures.

The Company does not knowingly misstate or misrepresent management information for any reason, and the Company expects the same to apply to its suppliers. The Company may be required to make statements or provide reports to regulatory bodies, government agencies or other government departments, as well as to the media. The Company ensures that such statements or reports are correct, timely, and not misleading, and that they are delivered through the appropriate channels. Through its website the Company provides its Annual Report, other statements and any appropriate information to enable shareholders and stakeholders to assess the performance of its business. The Company complies with the applicable laws and regulations concerning the disclosure of information relating to the Company.

 

Shareholder engagement

The Group encourages active interest and contribution from both its institutional and private investors and responds promptly to all queries received by the Group. The Board recognises the importance of maintaining strong relationships with shareholders, and the Directors place a great deal of importance on understanding shareholder sentiment.

The Investment Adviser and the Group’s financial advisers regularly meet and receive calls from shareholders and analysts in order to understand their views, and the Group’s broker speaks to shareholders regularly, ensuring shareholder views are communicated to the Board. The Board takes responsibility for, and has a direct involvement in, the content of communications regarding major corporate issues.

Shareholders are encouraged to attend and vote at the Company’s shareholder meetings, so they can discuss governance and strategy and the Board can enhance its understanding of shareholder views. The Board attends the Company’s shareholder meetings to answer any shareholder questions and the Chairman makes himself available, as necessary, outside of these meetings to speak to shareholders.

The Board believes that sufficient information is available to shareholders to understand the balance of risk and reward to which they are exposed by holding shares in the Company. The publication of the Key Information Document on the Company’s website, which is prepared by the AIFMD in conjunction with the Investment Adviser, provides the nature and key risks of the Company to shareholders. The Board is committed to providing investors with regular announcements of significant events affecting the Group and all investor documentation is available in the Investor Relations.

As a demonstration of the Company’s commitment to sustainability, it is proposing to move to electronic communications for all shareholders and a letter notifying this change was sent to all shareholders on 18 September 2020.

 

Stakeholder Engagement and Section 172 Statement

Stakeholder engagement

The PRS REIT is focused on delivering new homes for private rental across the UK, with family homes its key target market. The Group’s PRS activities bring together a network of formal and informal relationships, which include construction partners, central government, local authorities, customers and communities. As a sustainable business, the Company is providing an innovative build-to-rent solution to address a national, market and societal demand for quality family homes.

Across the UK, the PRS REIT engages with a range of interest groups to ensure that it listens to and understands the interests and concerns of all stakeholders, as well as seeking to deliver sustainable value for them.

Effective engagement with stakeholders at Board level and throughout our business is crucial to fulfilling the Company’s goal to deliver family PRS homes across the UK. While the importance of giving due consideration to our stakeholders is not new, we are taking the opportunity this year to explain in more detail how the Board engages with our stakeholders. We continue to be collaborative with all stakeholder groups including customers, partners, house builders, suppliers, local authorities, regulators, funders and investors. This approach necessarily involves listening to and taking account of their views and feedback, while also being open to change.

 

Section 172 statement

The following serves as our section 172 statement and should be read in conjunction with the Strategic Report in the annual financial statements. Section 172 of the Companies Act 2006 requires Directors to take into consideration the interests of stakeholders in their decision making. The Directors continue to have regard to the interests of the Company’s stakeholders, including the impact of its activities on the community, the environment and the Company’s reputation, when making decisions. Acting in good faith and fairly between members, the Directors consider what is most likely to promote the success of the Company for its members in the long term. The Directors are therefore fully aware of their responsibilities to promote the success of the Company in accordance with section 172 of the Companies Act 2006.

To ensure the PRS REIT continues to operate in line with good corporate practice, all Directors are frequently provided with refresher guidance on the scope and application of section 172 from the Company’s legal and financial advisors. This allows Board members to reflect on how the Company engages with its stakeholders and identify opportunities for enhancement in the future.

The Board regularly reviews the Company’s principal stakeholders and how we engage with them. The stakeholder voice is constantly brought into the boardroom through information provided by management and also by direct engagement with stakeholders themselves. The relevance of each stakeholder group may increase or decrease depending on the matter or issue in question, so the Board seeks to consider the needs and priorities of each stakeholder group during its discussions and as part of its decision-making.

Throughout these financial statements, we provide examples of how this engagement with stakeholders takes place to ensure that we can appropriately consider their interests in decision-making. Of particular note for the period under review, the Board’s decision to defer the 3rd quarter dividend in the year ended 30 June 2020 following the outbreak of COVID-19, the tenant survey undertaken, focused activities around proactive tenant engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic through social media platforms and a responsible approach towards managing tenant difficulties resulting from outbreak.

The Board and the Investment Adviser intend to use the outputs from the survey and other tenant interaction in shaping the portfolio moving forward. In addition, the Board’s engagement with funders resulted in funders volunteering a reduction in the covenant test relating to interest coverage by net operating income to specifically allow for tenant payment plans deferring rental income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Employees

The PRS REIT does not have any employees. Instead, Sigma PRS Management Ltd (“Sigma PRS”) is the appointed Investment Adviser to the PRS REIT.

 

Investment Adviser

The Company carefully considers the conditions under which Sigma PRS interacts with its employees and other stakeholders.

 

Customers and communities

The new homes that the PRS REIT is delivering form new neighbourhoods and communities and we recognise our responsibility towards ensuring that these communities function well. Our vision is to create homes that people will enjoy living in and neighbourhoods that they feel a part of. In order to help to forge the social links that underpin these communities and create a sense of neighbourhood, we organise regular events across our developments that help to bring people together. We also build links with the wider community, and, over the past year we have supported a number of local primary schools, with projects including a library refurbishment and the provision of outdoor play equipment. We intend to continue to build on these initiatives, and are moving forward with ideas, big and small, which will help to create a better environment for our customers and their local communities. These measures are facilitated by direct customer engagement with the utilisation of technology, particularly social media, to enable two-way interaction.

 

Environment

Whilst the Company’s activities do not directly impact the environment, it takes account of the potential impact of its key business partners. The house builder with whom we work most closely, Countryside Properties, has a strong track record in sustainable development. In its last reporting year, Countryside Properties diverted 99.4% of its waste away from landfill.

Countryside opened a new modular panel factory in Warrington during 2019 capable of manufacturing up to 1,500 homes per year. The homes are produced with sustainable timber from certified forests and the factory does not generate any landfill.

The Company planted a substantial number of trees over the course of 2019 and intends to plant a further 1,000 trees per site moving forward. The initiative makes a positive environmental contribution as well as enhancing our developments and the local neighbourhood. We are also working with landscapers to commence a programme of wildflower planting in our developments that will promote a greater volume of invertebrate life, which will support the wild bird population and greater overall biodiversity.

These actions all demonstrate practical measures geared towards benefitting the environment in the long-term.

 

Local Authorities, house builders and funders

The Group’s objectives are to provide investors with an attractive level of income together with the prospect of income and capital growth through investment in a portfolio of newly constructed residential private rented sector sites of multiple units comprising mainly family homes. It aims to do this utilising its property and capital raising expertise to further its PRS activities and deliver family housing. The geographies in which we deliver assets has steadily expanded, and we have also diversified the financial instruments that we manage to deliver those assets.

This requires four separate parties involving local authorities, house builders and funding partners, with the Investment Adviser performing the roles of facilitator and co-ordinator. Regular and collaborative communication and dialogue is essential with all of these parties to ensure success. Without this, Sigma PRS could not develop, establish and maintain the partnership relations it has as Investment Adviser.

The creation of new partnerships is also key. Given that sites will typically take well in excess of 24 months to identify, plan, develop and let, it is imperative that the Investment Adviser constantly has a focus on future sites through regular dialogue with multiple parties.

 

Regulators

The Group is subject to statutory reporting requirements and to rules and responsibilities prescribed by the London Stock Exchange and the Financial Conduct Authority. The Board has a balanced range of complementary skills and experience, with independent non-executive directors who provide oversight, and challenge decisions and policies as they see fit. The Board believe in robust and effective corporate governance structures and is committed to maintaining high standards and applying the principles of best practice.

Compliance is maintained through the utilisation of recognised professional advisers and the Board would not hesitate to seek input in this regard from the listing authority.

 

Shareholders

The Board welcomes the opportunity to engage with our shareholders and with the capital markets more generally. We have a high level of investor communication through our financial calendar activity, through investor meetings, roadshows, site visits and our AGM.

The Company’s Chairman takes overall responsibility for ensuring that the views of our shareholders are communicated to the Board and that our Directors are made aware of shareholders’ issues and concerns so these can be fully considered. The Board achieves this through:

  • active dialogue with shareholders, prospective shareholders and analysts; and
  • the Chairman and the Chair of the Audit Committee being available to meet institutional shareholders.

Feedback from any such meetings would be shared with all Board members.

The Chairman and the Board consider that there are appropriate mechanisms in place to listen to the views of shareholders and communicate them to the Board without it being necessary for the Chairman or Chair of the Audit Committee to attend all meetings with shareholders. The Board believes that this approach is consistent with the 2018 Code” (UK) “2019 Code” (AIC) on dialogue with shareholders and is in line with good corporate governance.

Major investor relations engagement activities carried out during the year are set out below:

  • numerous meetings, presentations and conference calls hosted with institutional investors or prospective investors; and
  • regular site visits

Investors, prospective investors and analysts can contact the Chairman or access information on our corporate website. The Board believes that appropriate steps have been taken during the year so that all members of the Board have an understanding of the views of major shareholders.

 

Dividend

To view the Board’s final total dividend for the last financial year, please see the latest annual report.

 

Directors’ Remuneration Policy

The Directors’ Remuneration Policy of the Company is set by the Board. A resolution to approve this Directors’ Remuneration Policy was approved at the last Annual General Meeting. The policy provisions set out below will apply until they are next put to shareholders for renewal of that approval, which must be at intervals of not more than three years, or earlier if proposals are made to vary the policy. The Directors’ Remuneration Policy is binding and sets the parameters within which Directors’ remuneration may be set.

The Directors’ Remuneration Policy of the Company is to pay its non-executive Directors fees that are appropriate for the role and the amount of time spent in discharging their duties, that are broadly in line with those of comparable real estate investment companies and that are sufficient to attract and retain suitably qualified and experienced individuals which therefore supports the long term strategic objectives of the Group.

The fees paid will be reviewed on an annual basis and may also be reviewed when new non-executive Directors are recruited to the Board. The Directors of the Company are entitled to such rates of annual fees as the Board at its discretion shall from time to time determine. The Chairman of the Board and the Audit Committee Chairman are entitled to receive fees at a higher level than those of the other Directors, reflecting their additional duties and responsibilities. Annual fees are pro-rated where a change takes place during the financial year.

In addition to the annual fee, under the Company’s Articles of Association, if any Director is requested to perform any special duties or services outside his ordinary duties as a Director, he may be paid such reasonable additional remuneration as the Board may from time to time determine.

 

Directors’ Remuneration Components

Component Director Annual Fee
£’000
Purpose of Remuneration
Annual fee Chairman 45 Commitment as Chairman of a public company
Annual fee Non-executive Directors 30 Commitment as non-executive Directors of a public company
Additional fee Chairman of the Audit Committee 5 For additional responsibilities and time commitment
Additional fee All Directors Discretionary For extra or special services performed in their role as a Director
Expenses All Directors n/a Reimbursement of expenses incurred in the performance of duties as a Director

 

Directors and Officers liability insurance cover is maintained by the Company on behalf of the Directors.

Directors are entitled to be paid all expenses properly incurred in attending Board or shareholder meetings or otherwise in or with a view to the performance of their duties.

As all Directors are non-executive and there are no employees, the Company does not operate any share option or other long-term incentive schemes and the Directors’ fees are not subject to any performance criteria. No pension or other retirement benefits schemes are operated by the Company for any of its Directors.

 

Letters of appointment

No Director has a service contract with the Company. The Directors are appointed under letters of appointment. Their appointment and any subsequent termination or retirement is subject to the Articles of Association. The Directors’ letters of appointment provide that, upon the termination of a Director’s appointment, that Director must resign in writing and all records remain the property of the Company. A Director’s appointment can be terminated in accordance with the Articles of Association and without compensation. There is no notice period specified in the Articles of Association for the removal of Directors and all Directors are subject to re-election by shareholders every year from the date they were last re-elected.

 

Approach to recruitment remuneration

The remuneration package for any new Chairman or non-executive Director will be the same as the prevailing rates determined on the bases set out above. The Board will not pay any introductory fee or incentive to any person to encourage them to become a Director, but may pay the fees of search and recruitment specialists in connection with the appointment of any new non-executive Director.

 

Views of shareholders

Any views expressed by shareholders on the fees being paid to Directors would be taken into consideration by the Board when reviewing levels of remuneration. No views have been expressed to date.

 

Voting at the AGM

The Directors’ remuneration report for the most recent year end can be found in the latest annual report.