New blood at Wall Street’s old guard rattles Corporate America

This year marks a sea change as top funds throw more of their weight behind investor challenges to companies on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and put companies on notice by often choosing to publicize how and why they voted, a Reuters review of voting results and fund firms’ new disclosures shows. A record…

A Glimpse of a Future With True Shareholder Democracy – The New York Times

[L]ack of proxy voting capability leaves vast numbers of investors out of the equation, and gives corporations inordinate power. Consider that roughly half of all American households, comprising tens of millions of people, have a stake in the stock market. But most own equities indirectly through funds — mainly index funds. That leaves fund managers…

Activist Stewardship

Highlights from a new article on hedge fund activism on behalf of long-term shareholder value, from Robert Eccles (Oxford University), Aeisha Mastagni (CalSTRS), and Kirsty Jenkinson (CalSTRS): The time has come for “activist stewardship.” Simply put, this means putting the skills and techniques of activist hedge funds to work where a company’s financial performance is…

How Vanguard Looks at Shareholder Proposals

From the Veritas Compensation in Context newsletter, courtesy of John Galloway, how Vanguard evaluates shareholder proposals: We assess each proposal through a fiduciary lens. First we look for alignment with the Vanguard funds’ corporate governance principles in the company’s board composition, the board’s oversight of strategy and risk, executive compensation, and shareholder rights. We then…

Want a Bigger Say on Corporate Behavior? Move Your Money – The New York Times

My conclusion is that C.E.O.s have performed an artful head fake with their high-sounding promises, deflecting public attention from the Roundtable’s decades-long advocacy of measures to weaken regulations and reduce the already attenuated power of shareholders. What you won’t find in the Roundtable’s statement is this: For-profit companies exist to serve their owners, not their…

State Street CEO Takes the Long View on Shareholder Activism – WSJ

As CEO of State Street Corp., STT 2.10% Ronald O’Hanley is on the front lines of shareholders’ push to bring change to corporate boardrooms. State Street, STT 2.10% whose money-management arm oversees $2.7 trillion in assets, has amassed significant governance power in recent years as investors shifted more money into the lower-cost, index-tracking funds it…

DOL Quietly Joins SEC’s Shareholder Voter Suppression Effort

Here is the latest from the DOL in intentionally bureaucratic gobbledygook: This deregulatory action would modernize fiduciary practices related to the voting rights associated with ERISA plan investments and harmonize those regulations with the requirements of other regulators. The goal of this proposal would be to protect the interests of participants and beneficiaries by: (1)…

Wake Up Call for Corporate Leaders on ESG, Sustainability, and Engagement

Edelman’s 2019 “Trust Barometer” shows a strong swing toward ESG and sustainability from investors. We believe the first of their conclusions listed below is misleading. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that sustainability by its very definition is not a trade-off for returns; it is essential for returns, both present value and long-term, as the…

European investors target lavish executive pay in US

Pay deals for top company bosses in the US face mounting opposition from some of Europe’s most influential investors even as their large American counterparts continue to provide solid support for exorbitant executive remuneration packages. The investment arms of UBS, Axa, Legal & General, BNP Paribas along with APG, Europe’s largest pension fund, voted against…