Author Archive | James McRitchie

#WeAreTwitter Record Date Approaches

#WeAreTwitter Record Date

#WeAreTwitter Record Date March 30?

#WeAreTwitter Record Date Approximately March 30, 2017

Thousands have been part of a #WeAreTwitter, #BuyTwitter, #platformcoop campaign to ensure Twitter remains and advances as “the people’s news network.” At the annual meeting in May, Twitter shareholders will get to vote on a proposal to study different corporate governance structures to give greater voice to Twitter users though a cooperative or other user empowering mechanisms. If you do not own shares by the record date, you cannot attend the meeting. If you do not own shares by the record date, you cannot vote in favor of the #WeAreTwitter resolution. The #WeAreTwitter record date is important. More information at The Internet of Ownership. Continue Reading →

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Ron O’Hanley: Video Friday

Ron O’Hanley

Ron O’Hanley

Ron O’Hanley, President and CEO of State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), was recently hosted at the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.

According to the Weinberg Center, SSGA is a recognized leader in corporate governance. Ron O’Hanley gave an inspiring talk as part of the Center’s 2017 Corporate Governance Symposium. Mr. O’Hanley discussed SSGA’s focus on effective, independent board leadership and his recent call on boards to consider ESG impacts on long-term value creation. Continue Reading →

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Stockholder Engagement: Cooperation, Confrontation or Tacit Standoff?

Companies, and in particular boards, can no longer rely on ad hoc interaction with proxy advisory firms to “check the box” on stockholder engagement on governance issues. This SVDX/Rock Center panel addressed the evolving landscape of stockholder communications in light of increased profiles of institutional governance departments. What are best practices for board and company engagement with stockholders? How can the company proactively think about topics of particular attention, such as proxy access, board diversity and tenure, exclusive forum bylaws, director nominations/elections and executive compensation?

Stockholder engagement

Stockholder Engagement: Paul DeNicola, John Kispert, Kim Le, Aeisha Mastagni, Ed Batts

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Trump & Directors Forum 2017

TrumpDirectors Forum 2017 met in San Diego just 2 days into the Trump Administration. It was anyone’s guess what would happen to Dodd Frank, regulations, tax code, healthcare, etc. We heard from political affairs experts. Closing in on three months later, you be the judge. They had good insights but there is much to come. This is Part 6 and the last of my coverage of @corpdirforum, which was billed as Directors, Management, & Shareholders in Dialogue. I hope to see you at the next Forum in 2018. Continue Reading →

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Starbucks (SBUX): Vote Proxy Access

Starbucks Corporation (NASD: SBUX), together with its subsidiaries, operates as a roaster, marketer, and retailer of specialty coffee worldwide. SBUX is one of the stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votImage result for starbuckses of four fund families when I checked and voted. Their annual meeting is coming up on March 22, 2017

I voted FOR Proxy Access Amendments. See how and why I voted other items below. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 50% of the time. View Proxy Statement via iiWisdom.

Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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Climate Risk – Walden Moves BlackRock

Walden Moves BlackRock, Thanks to Timothy Smith

Walden Moves BlackRock, Thanks to Timothy Smith

Walden Moves BlackRock: Background

A number of investors, led by Walden moves BlackRock on climate Risk. Walden Asset Management and the Center for Community Change, along with the City of Seattle Employees’ Retirement System and First Affirmative Financial Network, filed a shareholder resolution requesting a review of BlackRock’s proxy voting process and record on climate change.

Following extensive engagement and constructive dialogue between BlackRock, Walden and a number of investors, the shareholder resolution was withdrawn. As a result of the dialogue, BlackRock has updated its website to provide fresh insights into the ways it believes climate change creates risks and opportunities for companies. BlackRock also noted that climate risk will be a priority for their engagement with companies and boards throughout 2017 and 2018. Continue Reading →

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Are We Paying CEOs Too Much?

Are we paying CEOs too much? Is the Pope Catholic? (That’s my own bad joke, not from the panelists.)

Executive compensation is front and center on the minds of shareholders, regulators—and politicians. What IS pay? What IS performance? What are the right time frames for measuring performance? And what to do about the perception that pay is not tied to performance?

I was less interested in our “perception” that pay is not tied to performance and more interested in the reality, where such discrepancies exist.

Are We Paying CEOs Too Much?

Are We Paying CEOs Too Much?

Are We Paying CEOs Too Much? is Part 5 of my coverage of the Corporate Directors Forum 2017 in San Diego @corpdirforum, which was billed as Directors, Management, & Shareholders in Dialogue. I was also hoping to learn more about President Donald J. Trump and how his administration might impact corporate governance. More about that in a future post. See Part I, Part 2Part 3 and Part 4. As usual, the Directors Forum was under Chatham House Rule, so I’m mostly just posting a few observations and my reflections that I hope readers will find interesting.Much better photos from the professional photographer at Directors Forum 2017 Photo Slide Show Continue Reading →

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International Women’s Day

SSGA: Tired of the Bull During International Women's Day

SSGA: Tired of the Bull? Celebrate International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day and Corporate Governance.

Progress on gender diversity in boardrooms and executive suites is slow in North America and many other parts of the world. Ahead of today’s International Women’s Day (March 8) SHARE and SSGA have taken dramatic action. The Women Corporate Directors Foundation can also take credit on this International Women’s Day.Where are the others? Post a comment to let us know.

International Women’s Day: SHARE

In recognition of International Women’s Day, the Shareholder Association for Research & Education (SHARE) announced efforts to tackle gender diversity and gender-related pay gaps across corporate Canada.  Continue Reading →

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Report from CII Winter Meeting: ESG

CIIEven in Washington, the numbers are impressive. The Council of Institutional Investors, who met in Washington DC this week, represents 23 trillion (with a t) dollars, mostly made up of retirement and other savings of working families. Compare that to the entire budget of the US government, less than two trillion a year. Like most industry group meetings in Washington, this one had presentations on what to expect from Congress and the regulatory agencies and how millennials will change the way the members do business, plus snack breaks and wireless sponsored by firms trying to sell products and services to the attendees. But the a two and a half day session featured repeated agenda topics on climate change and what are called ESG issues, suggesting that pension funds may step in where governments have failed. Continue Reading →

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Evolving Shareholder Engagement

Evolving Ways of Shareholder Engagement is Part 4 of my coverage of the Corporate Directors Forum 2017 in San Diego @corpdirforum, which was billed as Directors, Management, & Shareholders in Dialogue. I was also hoping to learn more about President Donald J. Trump and how his administration might impact corporate governance. More about that in a future post. See Part I, Part 2 and Part 3. As usual, the Directors Forum was under Chatham House Rule, so I’m mostly just posting a few observations and my reflections that I hope readers will find interesting. Much better photos from the professional photographer at Directors Forum 2017 Photo Slide Show.

Panel: Evolving Ways of Shareholder Engagement

Panel: Evolving Ways of Shareholder Engagement

“Evolving Ways of Shareholder Engagement (because they can’t take most of your calls…)”
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eSignatureGuarantee Facilitates Securities Transfer

eSignatureGuaranteeFor shareholders and investors, transferring securities just got a whole lot easier with the introduction of eSignatureGuarantee.com (link).

In order to transfer securities – whether it’s stock, a 401K, an estate trust, whatever it may be – the transfer agent industry requires what is called a medallion signature guarantee, which essentially proves your identity and helps protect shareholders from fraud. To obtain a signature medallion one must physically go into their financial institution or bank of choice to get one. Not only is this time consuming and outdated, but many financial institutions, such as the Bank of America and many community banks, have stopped offering this service, literally leaving shareholders with nowhere to turn. Continue Reading →

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Egan-Jones Updates Voting Guidelines

Egan-JonesI have been using Egan-Jones Proxy Services (“EJPS”) for several months to help me decide how to vote my proxies and have come to value their advice. For example, I like their policy of withholding votes from the entire compensation committee when voting against say on pay.

Recently Egan-Jones announced the implementation of changes to their proxy voting guidelines for the 2017 Proxy Season. I like the direction they are going. Continue Reading →

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Proxy Statements Increase Disclosures

Proxy Statements Disclosing Engagement

Nearly half of S&P 100 companies included information in their proxy statements that showed how they responded to shareholder concerns and made changes to policies, according to a new report from Equilar, Innovations in Proxy Design, featuring commentary from Donnelley Financial Solutions and Pay Governance.

In 2012, just 14.3% of the S&P 100 included disclosures in their proxy statements on how they modified their practices after engaging shareholders, a figure that increased to 42.0% in 2016.

Disclosing Modifications

Disclosing Modifications in Proxy Statements

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Can We Really Govern for the Long-Term?

Can We Really Govern for the Long-Term vs the Quarterly Fixation? This is Part 3 of my coverage of Directors Forum 2017 in San Diego, which was billed as Directors, Management, & Shareholders in Dialogue. I was also hoping to learn more about President Donald J. Trump and how his administration might impact corporate governance. See Part I and Part 2. As usual, the Directors Forum was under Chatham House Rule, so I’m mostly just posting a few observations that were interesting to me.  Photos from the professional photographer at Directors Forum 2017 Photo Slide Show.

Can We Really Govern for the Long-Term vs the Quarterly Fixation?

Can We Really Govern for the Long-Term vs the Quarterly Fixation?

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Boardroom Issues of the Future

Boardroom Issues of the Future

Boardroom Issues of the Future

Boardroom Issues of the Future is Part 2 of my coverage of Directors Forum 2017 in San Diego, which was billed as Directors, Management, & Shareholders in Dialogue. I was also hoping to learn more about President Donald J. Trump and how his administration might impact corporate governance. See Part I. As usual, the Directors Forum was under Chatham House Rule, so I’m mostly just posting a few observations that were interesting to me. Sorry for the poor photo quality. I find it difficult to get good color in front of a lighted screen. Photos from the professional photographer at Directors Forum 2017 Photo Slide Show. Continue Reading →

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