The Shareholder ForumTM

Electronic Participation in Shareholder Meetings

Forum Home Page [see Broadridge note below]

"E-Meetings" Home Page

"E-Meetings" Program Reference



Comments of Timothy Smith

April 5, 2011

invited response to

March 22, 2011 Forum Report:

Inviting Comments on Board Advisor's Views of "Fifth Analyst Call"


Timothy Smith, whose comments are presented below, is Senior Vice President of the Environment, Social and Governance ("ESG") Group in the Walden Asset Management division of  the Boston Trust & Investment Management Company. Mr. Smith is a member of the Forum's  Program Panel for the "E-Meetings" public interest program that has been addressing related communications issues.



Comments of

Timothy Smith

April 5, 2011



As one of the participants in the invitation to companies to have “Fifth Analyst Calls”, it is perplexing to see the fierce opposition by several law firms and a number of companies to what is in essence a simple request to dialogue by shareowners. Perhaps it is the fact that the invitation is couched in a new term, Fifth Analyst call, that has generated caution or defensiveness.

However hundreds of companies regularly respond positively to investor requests to talk, whether the issue be environmental, social or governance. Often such discussions result in changes in company policy or practice or increased disclosure. At the very least they improve the “acoustics” in a dialogue so both sides understand each other better.

And while it is a modest trend, we do see more Directors engaging in specific dialogues that are relevant to their roles and responsibilities.

So this request for a governance focused call before a company’s annual meeting builds nicely on these decades of discussions and brings them to a new level. What is the harm in discussing governance issues like staggered boards or separate Chair-CEO roles, or executive comp issues with the very directors who have responsibility for setting policies and oversight of these issues? Clearly we will all learn from each others perspectives.

I expect in a few years we will all look back and see that this initial defensiveness was misplaced and unnecessary.

Timothy Smith
Senior Vice President, Director of ESG Shareowner Engagement
Walden Asset Management, a division of Boston Trust & Investment Management
One Beacon Street, 33rd floor
Boston, MA. 02108




This Forum program is open, free of charge, to anyone concerned with investor interests in the development of standards for conducting shareholder meetings with electronic participation. As stated in the posted Conditions of Participation, the Forum's purpose is 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 is 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.

The organization of this Forum program was encouraged by Walden Asset Management, and is proceeding with the invited leadership support of Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. and Intel Corporation to address issues relevant to broad public interests in marketplace practices, rather than investor decisions relating to only a single company. The Forum may therefore invite program support of several companies that can provide both expertise and examples of leadership relating to the issues being addressed.

Inquiries about this Forum program and requests to be included in its distribution list may be addressed to

The information provided to Forum participants is intended for their private reference, and permission has not been granted for the republishing of any copyrighted material. The material presented on this web site is the responsibility of Gary Lutin, as chairman of the Shareholder Forum.

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.