Votermedia Finance Blog

July 21, 2009

SECIAC July 27 meeting agenda

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mark Latham @ 9:22 am

The first meeting of the SEC Investor Advisory Committee is next Monday. Here’s an excerpt from their Notice of Meeting, which is linked from the SECIAC Spotlight page:

The Securities and Exchange Commission Investor Advisory Committee is providing notice that it will hold a public meeting on Monday, July 27, 2009, in the Auditorium, Room L-002, at the Commission’s main offices, 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC.  The meeting will begin at 10:00 am (EST) and will be open to the public. The meeting will be webcast on the Commission’s Web site at www.sec.gov.

Here’s the latest agenda I’ve received (as of 2009-07-13):

Open Meeting of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Investor Advisory Committee

Location:    SEC Headquarters
Auditorium, Room L002
Washington, D.C.

Date:        Monday, July 27, 2009

Time:        10:00 A.M.

Agenda

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.         Informal Breakfast

10:00 – 10:30 a.m.    Opening Remarks, Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar; Opening Remarks, Committee Co-Chairs Richard (Mac) Hisey and Hye-Won Choi

10:30 – 10:50 a.m.    Introduction of Committee Members and Supporting Staff

10:50 – 12:00 p.m.    Committee Agenda and Organization

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.    Lunch and Discussion of Administrative Issues

1:00 – 3:00 p.m.    Investor Views of Possible Refinements to the Disclosure Regime

3:00 – 3:45 p.m.    Next Steps:  Confirm Dates for Future Meetings and Discuss Prioritization of Issues

3:45 p.m.    Adjournment

I’ll be in DC until late afternoon Tuesday July 28, and still have some times available to meet people from 12:30 to about 3 pm that day (email mark[at]votermedia.org).

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July 20, 2009

Issues for SEC Investor Advisory Committee to address

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mark Latham @ 3:41 pm

Last week the SEC asked Committee members to email them issues that each of us would like to see the Committee address in the next 2 years. Here’s what I suggested:

1. How to encourage and support proxy voting by individual investors:
– Encourage development of information infrastructure (mainly private sector websites) that will help individuals vote intelligently.
– Develop educational program that would be posted on the SEC website and would be widely distributed through brokers, AAII, AARP, Investor Protection Trust, 401(k) plans, etc. that explains the importance of proxy voting, how it relates to corporate governance, and how it provides an opportunity to influence both the earning power and social/environmental values of companies.

2. Disclosure of proxy votes by institutional investors:
– Require XBRL format.
– Require disclosure by pension funds.
– Encourage disclosure prior to annual meeting.

3. Review the integrity of the proxy voting process to ensure it truly reflects the wishes of the electorate:
– Get rid of “blank vote” mechanisms (where votes are filled in on blanks left by shareowners), share lending that may extend to votes, etc.

4. Auditor selection:
– Allow shareholder proposals that relate to auditor selection; up to now, companies are allowed to exclude such proposals under rule 14a-8(i)(7), as relating to “ordinary business matters”. Reasons for changing this are similar to reasons for allowing proposals that relate to director elections (http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2009/2009-116.htm). These matters are crucial for management accountability to shareowners.

So yesterday I was happy to see a comment submitted by the Investment Company Institute (most of whose members are mutual funds) that included this recommendation, which overlaps with my suggestion #2 above:

To the extent that the Committee believes that proxy vote disclosure achieves important public policy purposes, we urge it to support our recommendation to extend such disclosure to all institutional investors.

By the way, I welcome comments on this blog!

July 19, 2009

I Represent Individual Investors

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mark Latham @ 7:16 pm

The letter from SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro appointing me to their Investor Advisory Committee (SECIAC) specifies that I “have agreed as a member of the Committee to represent individual investors, particularly with respect to their role in corporate governance.” I am pleased to have this mandate, which I no doubt share with some other Committee members, although I haven’t seen a list of their mandates yet. Each member brings a different background and expertise to the group, a diversity that should greatly benefit our work. I hope our biases balance out well enough to serve the public interest.

I am also pleased to see some thoughtful public comment on this important issue of the Committee’s composition. The first comment in particular stands out for me:

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