Posts filed under ‘progress’

Shareholder Proposals at ExxonMobil, 2010

Shareholders of ExxonMobil Corp. will vote on eight resolutions concerning  the environment, human rights and diversity. The Sustainable Investments Institute (SI2), which researches organized efforts to influence corporate behavior on social and environmental issues, has published several articles examining the ExxonMobil proposals. Read SI2’s studies here.

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May 24, 2010 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

Mutual Funds Seek to Shed ‘Rubber Stamp’ Tag

“Investor activists say they are finally getting some support from the $12 trillion mutual fund industry, huge shareholders long scorned as rubber stamps for the management of companies whose shares they own,” Ross Kerber says in a report for Reuters.

“Sensitive to the issue, mutual fund executives say they have begun to demand more details and to vote more aggressively in corporate elections. … Activists hope to see the new approach reflected when the results of this season’s shareholder proxy votes are released, especially in the aftermath of the financial crisis that plunged the world economy into recession.”

ProxyDemocracy will track mutual funds’ reports of their proxy votes to see how measurable this trend is.

May 17, 2010 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

Investors Make Voice Heard on Pay

“Investor rebukes of executive-pay practices last week at Motorola Inc. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. mark a significant shift in the relationship between corporate boards and shareholders,” Erin White reports in the Wall Street Journal.

“The messages came via say-on-pay votes at the companies’ annual meetings. Corporate activists have been arguing for an advisory vote on executive pay for years, but such votes have only recently become commonplace thanks to Congress, which required them for companies that got federal bailout funds, and voluntary adoption by others.

“Last year, not a single major U.S. company lost a vote, despite widespread complaints over excessive pay. Some governance watchers wondered if the measures lacked teeth, or if ordinary investors just didn’t consider pay to be an issue. After the defeats at Motorola and Occidental, that has changed.”

See the full story here.

May 11, 2010 at 8:35 am Leave a comment

Keeping Tabs on Mutual Funds

ProxyDemocracy earned a citation as a fund-industry watchdog from the Wall Street Journal, while money managers themselves got a demerit for failing to keep an eye on corporate excesses.

“To the millions of Americans wondering how Wall Street’s compensation culture got so brazen, one part of the answer may come as a surprise: It’s your mutual fund,” Ian Salisbury writes in the Journal.

“Many Main Street investors have fumed at the huge bonuses paid to Wall Street executives and traders following a government bailout of the financial industry,” the article says. “Yet directors at companies such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley are mostly expected to sail to reelection in proxy voting this month and next –and among the parties casting the most votes will be fund-management companies.”

Complex trading rules and fund companies’ oversight of corporate 401(k) plans are cited as possible reasons for the industry’s weak record in challenging management on pay and other issues.

ProxyDemocracy helps “investors keep tabs on the behavior of individual fund families” by assessing their votes on executive pay, corporate governance and issues such as the environment. Visit here to see how your fund company rates.

April 5, 2010 at 2:44 pm Leave a comment

Voting Your Shares Starts to Matter

 “What would happen if all the small investors banded together and cast their ballots during proxy season …?” the New York Times asks in an article that cites the contribution of ProxyDemocracy in educating shareholders. “How much of an impact would they have?”

It’s possible they could have more of an effect on corporate actions than ever, the Times says.

“More voter resources are beginning to sprout on the Web that aim to educate smaller investors, demystify the issues on the ballot and make voting easier,” according to the Times.

Organizations like ProxyDemocracy are helping shareholders to make decisions on issues like executive pay and corporate governance — and to increase their influence, writes Tara Siegel Bernard.

Individual investors own about 30 percent of outstanding shares, and have a much larger stake when their holdings in pensions and mutual funds are taken into account. While historically only a fraction of retail investors have voted their proxies, they do have the power to sway results, especially in close contests.

“Thirty percent of outstanding shares is a substantial portion, easily enough to change the outcome of many proxy voting results,” Mark Latham, a member of ProxyDemocracy’s board of directors, told the Times.

Nell Minow, co-founder of The Corporate Library, is quoted as saying that small stockholders should research how activists, such as the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, plan to cast their ballots.

Reporting how respected institutions will vote is one of the core services delivered by ProxyDemocracy. And Calpers is one of the key members of our roster of early vote disclosers.

The article points out how investors could benefit from changes in policy implemented or contemplated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress. 

They don’t have to wait to help themselves, however. Mutual fund holders, whose managers vote proxies on their behalf, can shop around to find those that do the best job of voting their interests, Latham said.

“The biggest thing you can do is find a better mutual fund,” he said. “If you are in a Standard & Poor’s 500 index fund, there are many S.& P. 500 funds. But some vote better than others, and that is the biggest leverage you have.”

Comparing the voting records of funds is another of our key services. Go here to see how your fund votes.

March 5, 2010 at 8:55 pm Leave a comment

SEC Steps Up Proxy Vote Education

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced a series of steps to educate investors about proxy voting and support greater investor participation in corporate elections.

The measures include a “Spotlight on Proxy Matters” Web site that explains the proxy voting process in plain language. Among the site’s features are a section of frequently asked questions, a sample voting instruction form and alerts about new voting rules for 2010.

“Investor participation in elections at companies they own is critical to effective corporate governance,” SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro said.

“The right to vote in corporate elections is a key investor right,” said Lori Schock, director of the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy. “We designed these new resources to help investors better understand the materials they will receive in connection with annual meetings of shareholders and how to vote by proxy in corporate elections.”

February 24, 2010 at 9:15 am 1 comment

Tweaks: Now showing management positions on upcoming meeting

If you look at an upcoming meeting (here is the current list) you’ll notice that we are now indicating management’s position on each proposal. (For most meetings – in some cases our sources don’t include that information.) It was one of those small technical changes that leads to a bunch of other small improvements that I won’t get into.

Expect some more news on progress soon — we have some new data on the way, and we’re working on a new voting service and I look forward to telling you about it.

November 25, 2008 at 11:37 am Leave a comment

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