BetterInvesting, the nonprofit association serving the retail investor primarily through education and investment clubs, announced a strategic partnership with Moxy Vote. BetterInvesting will promote the use of Moxy Vote’s free online proxy-voting service. According to Kamie Zaracki, CEO of BetterInvesting:
We’re excited to work with Moxy Vote. Since 1951, our association has been advocating that investors aren’t simply holders of stock shares — they’re owners of companies who should participate in the ownership by voting their proxies. Moxy Vote makes this easier for retail investors by providing a single site for maintaining proxy information, voting and obtaining information on the issues from their 40 participating Advocate organizations. This partnership will help us fulfill our mission of providing sound education that helps shareowners make better investment decisions.
In their press release, Moxy Vote co-founder Mark Schlegel says:
BetterInvesting has served the investment education needs of more than 5 million people over its history and as a result brings a wealth of experience and insight on how Moxy Vote should market its services to retail investors. Moxy Vote wants to put more information into the hands of retail investors, who hold 30 percent of publicly traded shares, and give the so-called little guy a needed voice in the boardrooms of the companies they own.
This is an excellent development that could very well strengthen both organizations and the overall clout of shareowners IF the partnership is fully embraced by both. I have little doubt that Moxy Vote stands ready to serve but will BetterInvesting actually begin to stress the importance of proxy voting or corporate governance among its members. Do a search on their site for proxy voting or corporate governance and you find virtually nothing.
BetterInvesting has traditionally emphasized how to analyze and buy stock and mutual funds. Little effort has been devoted to what investors can do as owners. For example, I haven’t seen any evidence the organization spends any effort describing governance basics, such as analyzing CEO compensation, possible advantages of annual director elections, why the move to majority voting requirements, how to file a proxy resolution or even what resources are available to help you decide how to vote proxies. If investment club members begin to see themselves as owners, rather than speculators, the partnership could be truly transformative. We should all be watching to see how both organizations follow through.
I hope this is just the start. BetterInvesting could also form partnerships with groups like the United States Proxy Exchange (USPX) and VoterMedia.org. USPX, for example, is training members on how to present proxy proposals at annual meetings so that proponents don’t have to bear the expense of flying across the country to make a 2 or 3 minutes statement at annual meetings. If investment clubs took on this effort with USPX, we could soon have “field agents” at every annual meeting. Investment clubs could also rate and provide seed funding to bloggers and others who provide investor education. Those rated at the top would get the most funding. See prototype.
According to the press release:
Since 1951, BetterInvesting, the brand identity of the National Association of Investors Corporation, has helped over 5 million people become better, more informed retail investors. BetterInvesting, based in Madison Heights, Mich., helps its members build wealth through local, regional and national learning events as well as through Web-based tools, software, member publications and online resources. As the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to investment education, it provides investing knowledge and practical investing experience through local investment clubs, local volunteer chapters, online courses and an active online community. BetterInvesting and its subsidiary, ICLUBcentral, currently serve over 120,000 investors.
Moxy Vote offers a free online platform at www.moxyvote.com that simplifies the proxy voting process for retail investors. It does this by providing information on the issues at stake and offering the functionality to actually process a vote. Shareholder Advocates can rally like-minded shareholders to vote alongside of them for their causes. Moxy Vote has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Investor’s Business Daily, Kiplinger’s and a number of other publications. It has also received favorable reviews from industry experts such as Nell Minnow, Jim McRitchie and Mark Latham.