The findings of a new study by Lily Tomson of ShareAction prove that the claims of the Chamber of Commerce and its various sock puppets are complete bunk.
Finding 1: ISS, the largest proxy advisor, is more supportive of environmental and social resolutions than the largest asset managers.
The majority of asset managers in our study are less supportive of ESG issues than ISS, with the largest asset managers being the least supportive.
Finding 2: There is little evidence to suggest a systematic overreliance on the recommendations of proxy advisors for responsible investment resolutions.
Finding 3: ISS is more likely to recommend that investors support environmental and social shareholder resolutions than the second largest firm, Glass Lewis.
ISS recommended that investors vote “For” a shareholder resolution 79% of the time, which was much higher than the 53% of votes supported by Glass Lewis, in our sample.
In aggregate, these findings suggest that previously-raised concerns about the overreliance of asset managers on proxy advisors may need reconsideration. Instead of focusing on degree of overlap between proxy advisors’ recommendations and asset managers’ votes, our findings suggest that the onus should firmly be placed on asset managers to vote in a manner which fosters a more responsible investment system and world. We conclude with recommendations for asset owners.