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For other reports of the controversy over rights to shareholder voting information addressed in the article below, see:


Source: New York Times DealBook, May 17, 2013 article

Investment Banking

Investor Group Asks S.E.C. to Intervene on Access to Shareholder Vote Totals



Ann Yeager, executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors.

Ann Yeager, executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors.

The Council of Institutional Investors has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to intervene after the main company that provides real-time tabulations on shareholder votes stopped giving this information to the groups that sponsor proposals.

The running tallies on shareholder votes are generally kept under lock and key. Only a handful of parties, notably the companies who are the subject of the proposal and the sponsor of the proposal, get to see them. Most firms facing shareholder proposals use a company named Broadridge to distribute investor information and provide information on how shareholders are voting.

Last Friday though, at the behest of Wall Street’s main industry lobbying group, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, Broadridge stopped giving shareholder sponsors access to real-time updates. The move drew fire from some investors who say knowing the current tally of votes helps both sides devise their campaigns. For instance, if one side is losing, it might send out an extra mailing or make more calls.

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Ann Yerger, executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors, which represents corporate, public and union employee benefit plans, said that Broadridge’s decision “raises deeply troubling questions about the fairness and impartiality of the proxy system.”

The decision by Broadridge to shut off real-time vote access to sponsors of shareholder proposals comes in the middle of one of the most closely watched investor votes in years — over whether to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive at JPMorgan Chase. While the vote is nonbinding, if could strip Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chief, of the chairman’s title.

Lyell Dampeer, a Broadridge executive, confirmed in an interview this week that he changed his firm’s policy after a call from Sifma. Broadridge is paid by the brokerage firms so he said he was “contractually obligated” to comply with the request. He did not return a call for comment for this article.

The Council of Institutional Investors said while it realized the S.E.C. had “limited authority” over firms like Broadridge, the agency has expressed interest in making sure the proxy system as a whole is fair and look at whether regulatory reform is necessary.


Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company


This Forum program was open, free of charge, to anyone concerned with investor interests in the development of marketplace standards for expanded access to information for securities valuation and shareholder voting decisions. As stated in the posted Conditions of Participation, the purpose of this public Forum's program was to provide decision-makers with access to information and a free exchange of views on the issues presented in the program's Forum Summary. Each participant was expected to make independent use of information obtained through the Forum, subject to the privacy rights of other participants.  It is a Forum rule that participants will not be identified or quoted without their explicit permission.

This Forum program was initiated in 2012 in collaboration with The Conference Board and with Thomson Reuters support of communication technologies to address issues and objectives defined by participants in the 2010 "E-Meetings" program relevant to broad public interests in marketplace practices. The website is being maintained to provide continuing reports of the issues addressed in the program, as summarized in the January 5, 2015 Forum Report of Conclusions.

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Shareholder Forum™ is a trademark owned by The Shareholder Forum, Inc., for the programs conducted since 1999 to support investor access to decision-making information. It should be noted that we have no responsibility for the services that Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., introduced for review in the Forum's 2010 "E-Meetings" program and has since been offering with the “Shareholder Forum” name, and we have asked Broadridge to use a different name that does not suggest our support or endorsement.