Influence ISS: Take Their Survey

ISS influences how funds vote their proxies. Here is your chance to influence them. Take their 2013 policy survey online by August 17th or regret your failure to act all next proxy season. You don’t have to be an ISS customer, although it probably helps.

ISS, formed in 1985 by Robert Monks and Nell Minow, is the most influential proxy advisor. They’ve gone through several owners and retain a fairly dominant position in the industry. Although many funds have their own policies and some have several staff devoted to proxy voting, there is no question that ISS wields, whether 5% or 25% their recommendations can make a real difference.

Institutional investor clients, corporate issuers and various corporate governance market intermediaries are invited to participate in their 2013 proxy voting policy survey. Don’t let this unique opportunity to shape ISS policies pass you by without participating.

I would especially draw attention to questions regarding peer selection for pay purposes (this area needs real improvement according to many I talk with), pay for performance (we need to get away from stock price as the single measure… it leads to abuses), political disclosure (good for all), and factors in support of proxy access proposals (low thresholds would encourage experimentation and greater diversity on boards).

The survey period will be followed in October by an open comment period after which, ISS publishes its draft policies. The timeline is as follows:

  • July 24 Policy Survey released
  • July/August In-person Executive Compensation roundtables with institutions, issuers and compensation consultants
  • August 17 Policy Survey closes
  • August/September Topic-specific telephonic roundtables
  • In-person Director roundtables (new addition to process)
  • September Survey results released
  • October Open comment period
  • November Final policy updates released
  • February 15 2013 voting policies implemented

The open comment period is designed to elicit objective, specific feedback from investors, corporate issuers and industry constituents on the practical implementation of proposed policies. Unless specifically requested by the submitter, feedback received during the open comment period will be made available via ISS’ online Policy Gateway.

According to Gary Retelny, President of ISS:

The extent to which ISS solicits market input and makes its policy development process inclusive and transparent year after year is simply unparalleled in our industry. We encourage all informed corporate governance constituents, particularly all of our clients, to participate in the process. In fact, early roundtable input from investors and corporate constituents on ISS’ approach to peer group construction and measuring pay is already under consideration.

To learn more about ISS’ policy formulation process and to take the survey, go to 2012-2013 Policy Outreach. See 2012 Policy Information.

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