Sarah Krause writes in the WSJ about large institutional investors’ differing views of “engagement,” noting that they also differ on their analysis of particular engagement/activism opportunities.
The biggest passive money managers all like to use some version of the word “engage” when describing how they hold their portfolio companies accountable behind the scenes. They differ on how that engagement is measured….BlackRock’s engagements, according to the company, can be “basic,” “moderate” or “extensive.” Basic can be one conversation on a “routine matter”; moderate “generally involves more than one meeting,” while extensive can be “numerous meetings over a longer time frame.”
For Vanguard and State Street each phone call or meeting counts as an “engagement”. State Street typically also sends hundreds of letters to its portfolio companies that it also classifies as “engagements,” though they aren’t included in the firm’s count of 676 engagements.
The three managers collectively oversee more than $13 trillion in assets, bigger than the size of China’s economy, the world’s second-largest.