Votermedia Finance Blog

August 31, 2010

Conference Appearances & Reimbursements Report

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Mark Latham @ 4:54 pm

I’m participating in these three conference panels:

Date Conference Organization Conference City Panel My Role Air & Hotel Paid By
2010-08-02 American Accounting Association San Francisco 3.28 XBRL: What Have We Really Learned? Panelist Mark Latham
2010-09-20 Council of Institutional Investors San Diego Board-Shareowner Communications Moderator CII
2010-11-10 XBRL US Philadelphia Proxy & Governance Panelist Broadridge

July 14, 2010

SEC Concept Release on Proxy Voting + Table of Contents

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Mark Latham @ 4:09 pm

Today the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission published its 150-page Concept Release on the U.S. Proxy System.

Its Table of Contents lacked page numbers, so I created one with page numbers, which you can download here in doc and pdf formats.

The SEC press release gives a brief overview.

Public comments linked here.

June 30, 2010

Fortune uses ProxyDemocracy to critique Vanguard’s CEO on their voting record

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mark Latham @ 9:45 am

This 4-minute video leads off with a tough question to Vanguard’s CEO, based on ProxyDemocracy data.

Here’s Vanguard’s voting profile on ProxyDemocracy. It shows that Vanguard funds have voted against the recommendation of management on 13.7% of the proposals they have faced. 87% of the fund families in the ProxyDemocracy database voted against management more often than that.

1-page overview of ProxyDemocracy.

June 1, 2010

Ultimate Proxy Advisor Proposal – revised

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Mark Latham @ 11:05 am

Thanks to comments from Jim McRitchie and John Richardson on the previous draft, I’ve revised it below to make it more attractive for advisors:

This shareowner proposal is an enhancement of my previous Proxy Advisor proposals, based on what we have learned from implementing this idea for the past four years at the University of British Columbia. The main idea is in section 3 of “Proxy Voting Brand Competition”, and the UBC implementations are described in “Global Voter Media Platform”, both at votermedia.org/publications. See also the current UBC ballot.

WHEREAS many shareowners lack the time and expertise to make the best voting decisions, yet prefer not to always follow directors’ recommendations;

WHEREAS shareowners could benefit from greater competition in the market for professional proxy voting advice;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that XYZ Corporation shareowners request the Board of Directors to hold a competition for proxy advisors giving public advice on the voting items in the proxy filing for next year’s XYZ annual general meeting, with the following features:

* The competition will be announced no more than six months after this year’s annual general meeting. To insulate advisor selection from influence by the Company’s management, any proxy advisory organization can enter by paying an entry fee of $10,000, and providing their name and website address. Each entry will be announced publicly, promptly after it is received.

* The competition will award a total prize pool equal to the sum of entry fees received plus $30,000 if there are three or more competitors. If there are two competitors, the total prize pool will be the sum of entry fees received plus $20,000.

* Prizes will be determined by shareowner vote on next year’s XYZ proxy. The proxy will show this question: “What percentage of the prize pool should we award to each of the following proxy advisors? (Your votes need not sum to 100%.)” Then the name and website address of each advisor entered will be listed in chronological order of entry, with the following voting choices for each advisor: 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% if there are three or more competitors; if there are fewer than three competitors, then the voting choices will be 0%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100%.

* If there are two or more competitors, then a cutoff number of votes (i.e. shares voted) will be determined such that the sum of awards will be 100%, where each advisor is awarded the highest percentage such that the sum of its votes for that percentage or higher is greater than the cutoff.

* If there is only one advisor entered, then that advisor will receive $10,000 (i.e. their entry fee), plus the median voted percentage times $10,000.

* The XYZ filing that reports the final voting results will show the total number of shares voted for each percentage level, for each advisor.

* It is expected that each proxy advisor will publish advice on its website regarding next year’s XYZ proxy, but there will be no formal requirement to do so. The incentive to win shareowner voting support and to maintain the advisor’s reputation will be considered sufficient motivation for giving quality advice.

(Further information at http://votermedia.org/publications.)

I have no immediate plans to submit this proposal, but I think it would greatly benefit shareowners and improve corporate governance. I recommend anyone to submit it. Feel free to change it as you wish.

Your comments welcomed!

May 25, 2010

Client Directed Voting – Q&A

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mark Latham @ 3:28 pm

I was recently asked to share my thoughts on client directed voting (CDV). I’ve written them in question-and-answer format, available at votermedia.org/publications.

I’ve been advocating and looking forward to this reform for many years, so am pleased with the recent increase in interest and momentum toward CDV! Your comments welcomed…

May 15, 2010

Ultimate Proxy Advisor Proposal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Mark Latham @ 5:15 pm

NOTE: This early draft has now been superseded by a revision linked here.

This shareowner proposal is an enhancement of my previous Proxy Advisor proposals, based on what we have learned from implementing this idea for the past four years at the University of British Columbia. The main idea is in section 3 of “Proxy Voting Brand Competition”, and the UBC implementations are described in “Global Voter Media Platform”, both at votermedia.org/publications. See also the current UBC ballot.

WHEREAS many shareowners lack the time and expertise to make the best voting decisions, yet prefer not to always follow directors’ recommendations;

WHEREAS shareowners could benefit from greater competition in the market for professional proxy voting advice;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that XYZ Corporation shareowners request the Board of Directors to hold a competition for proxy advisors giving public advice on the voting items in the proxy filing for next year’s XYZ annual general meeting, with the following features:

* The competition will be announced no more than six months after this year’s annual general meeting. To insulate advisor selection from influence by the Company’s management, any proxy advisory organization can enter by paying an entry fee of $20,000, and providing their name and website address. Each entry will be announced publicly, promptly after it is received.

* The competition will award a total prize pool no less than the lesser of $100,000 and the sum of entry fees received. For example, if three advisors enter then the prize pool is at least $60,000. If seven advisors enter then the prize pool is at least $100,000, and the extra (at most) $40,000 in entry fees is revenue to XYZ.

* Prizes will be determined by shareowner vote on next year’s XYZ proxy. The proxy will show this question: “What percentage of the prize pool should we award to each of the following proxy advisors? (Your votes need not sum to 100%.)” Then the name and website address of each advisor entered will be listed in chronological order of entry, with the following voting choices for each advisor: 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% if there are three or more competing advisors; if there are fewer than three advisors, then the voting choices will be 0%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100%.

* If there are two or more advisors competing, then a cutoff number of votes (i.e. shares voted) will be determined such that the sum of awards will be 100%, where each advisor is awarded the highest percentage such that the sum of its votes for that percentage or higher is greater than the cutoff. (In the case of a tie at the cutoff, the discontinuity will be divided equally among the tied advisors.)

* If there is only one advisor entered, then that advisor will receive 100% of the award pool, regardless of how XYZ shareowners vote. The vote will simply serve as shareowner feedback on the quality of advice provided.

* The XYZ filing that reports the final voting results will show the total number of shares voted for each percentage level, for each advisor.

* It is expected that each proxy advisor will publish advice on its website regarding next year’s XYZ proxy, but there will be no formal requirement to do so. The incentive to win shareowner voting support and to maintain the advisor’s reputation will be considered sufficient motivation for giving quality advice.

(Further information at http://votermedia.org/publications.)

It’s written so that awards can be funded entirely from entry fees, although it leaves the board discretion to sweeten the pot with corporate funds if desired. This may seem unattractive to proxy advisors, but their reputations can benefit from the advertising exposure. Once the concept demonstrates its value to shareowners, it should spread to more corporations and get corporate funding.

I have no immediate plans to submit this proposal, but I think it would greatly benefit shareowners and improve corporate governance. I recommend anyone to submit it. Feel free to change it as you wish.

Your comments welcomed!

May 13, 2010

SECIAC Meeting Agenda & Schedule for Monday May 17

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mark Latham @ 2:48 pm

The Securities and Exchange Commission has posted the agenda and schedule for the Investor Advisory Committee meeting in DC this coming Monday, May 17. Webcast should be linked from here or here.

April 26, 2010

SECIAC May 17 meeting agenda

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mark Latham @ 10:08 pm

From the meeting notice, which is linked from the SEC IAC Spotlight page:

The Securities and Exchange Commission Investor Advisory Committee is providing notice that it will hold a public meeting on Monday, May 17, 2010, in the Multipurpose Room, L-006, at the Commission’s main offices, 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. (EDT) and will be open to the public. The Committee meeting will be webcast on the Commission’s Web site at http://www.sec.gov. Persons needing special accommodations to take part because of a disability should notify a contact person listed below. The public is invited to submit written statements to the Committee.

The agenda for the meeting includes:
(i) remarks by Dan Ariely, behavioral economist, on investor reaction to disclosure;
(ii) update on recommendations previously adopted by the Committee;
(iii) briefing on the Investor as Owner Subcommittee’s environmental, social, and governance disclosure workplan;
(iv) update on certain issues involved in financial reform legislation;
(v) discussion of fiduciary duty, in the context of investment advisers and registered broker-dealers, including a presentation by SEC staff;
(vi) discussion with an expert panel on mandatory arbitration;
(vii) discussion of money market funds and the issue of net asset value (“NAV”), including a presentation by SEC staff;
(viii) recommendation by Investor Education Subcommittee of an investor education campaign;
(ix) reports from Subcommittees on other activities; and
(x) discussion of next steps and closing comments.

DATES: Written statements should be received on or before May 10, 2010.
ADDRESSES: Written statements may be submitted by any of the following methods:
Electronic Comments
– Use the Commission’s Internet submission form
(http://www.sec.gov/rules/other.shtml); or
– Send an e-mail message to rule-comments@sec.gov. Please include File Number 265-25-04 on the subject line.

[More info in the full notice.]

March 30, 2010

FINRA Foundation turns down voter funding proposal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mark Latham @ 4:57 pm

Yesterday I received this response from the FINRA Foundation to the Voter Funded Investor Education proposal I sent them last October:

Thank you for submitting your proposal. I apologize for not responding more quickly. At this time, we think our grant making process works very well. In addition, your proposal would be difficult to implement under the Global Research Analyst Settlement. I appreciate your thoughtfulness in preparing this proposal.

I will continue to look for ways of funding a pilot program to test how effective voter allocation can be, not only for investor education, but also to help us retail investors vote our proxies. Now that a consensus is building in support of Client Directed Voting, a little funding could go a long way toward supporting proxy voting advice and systems for sharing it freely.

March 5, 2010

New York Times and Harvard blog on empowering retail investors

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Mark Latham @ 5:56 pm

Two good articles published today —

New York Times: Voting Your Shares May Start to Matter

Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation: Fixing the Problems with Client Directed Voting

Related post on this blog: Investor Education on Proxy Voting

History of these ideas: “Proxy Voting Brand Competition” (2007) and “The Internet Will Drive Corporate Monitoring” (2000) at votermedia.org/publications

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.