Fund Votes: Great Resource for Proxy Research

Jackie Cook has revamped the Fund Votes website with a nice fresh look. More importantly, she’s added new features that make me move it toward the top of useful sites for retail shareowners, as well as for some institutional investors. As far as I know, Fund Votes has long had the most comprehensive proprietary database of mutual fund proxy votes spanning eight years for US institutions and six years for Canadian institutions.

The mainstay of Cook’s work has been analysis of these votes, parsing out trends and implications for the corporate governance industrial complex. New to the site, at least to my recollection, are two new pages:

  1. Shareholder Resolutions Analysis
  2. Proxy Voting Guidelines
The Shareholder Resolutions Analysis page provides access to databases via easy to use cloud tags. Looking at 2011, we can see more resolutions mentioned “corporate governance” than any other indexed phrase. “Chairman” looks to be next, with “compensation” and a lot of other words and phrases equally large. Once you pick a topic, say “political contributions,” you can then pull up a company’s proxy filing and click on the text of the resolution itself. For example, here’s Trillium Asset Management proposal at  3M last year. Very handy for shareowners looking for text that has already been vetted. Even view subcategories. In the future, she is likely to link to the votes but that will take more work.
On the same page, you can also sort by who filed resolutions. The names of John Chevedden and Evelyn Y. Davis are huge for 2011 filings, while James McRitchie and Domini Social Investments are relatively small. You can also easily see which proposals got the highest average support. By this measure, it looks like companies really shouldn’t fight “board declassification” proposals, since they are likely to lose. Several other subjects are also close.
The Proxy Voting Guidelines page has a long list of the proxy voting guidelines used by mutual funds, asset managers, public pension funds, unions and more. On the right is a list of upcoming meetings by date. Very handy. I love the site and think many readers will as well. Jackie Cook has really created something useful for helping us glean essential information out of thousands of SEC filings.

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