As many readers may know, a few months ago I joined the board of the United States Proxy Exchange (USPX). I’ve long been impressed with the work of USPX’s volunteer executive director, Glyn Holton. We worked closely on several sets of comments to the SEC, Model Shareowner Proposal for Proxy Access and subsequent no-action responses, Shareowner Guidelines for Say-on-Pay Voting, the Amicus Curiae in the case of Apache Corp. v John Chevedden, etc. I could go on and on.
Unfortunately, our collaboration has ceased to a trickle, at least for now. Concerned about the lack of growth in our organization, the USPX board decided to suspend operations for the next 18 to 24 months while we rethink our strategy. See Glyn’s post in the right-hand column on the USPX website.
Glyn will be using this time off to rebuild his own consulting practice, which focuses on financial risk management. The practice has suffered due to the considerable demands of running the USPX. As one of his initiatives, Glyn is releasing an on-line second edition of his groundbreaking book Value-at-Risk: Theory and Practice. Used copies of the first edition still sell on Amazon.com for over $200.
USPX was decentralized in principle. However, in practice we often relied on Glyn to keep the momentum going. Although we’ve suspended centralized activities for 18-24 months, the USPX website will limp along with occasional posts. More importantly, a few members will continue to collaborate on various projects using the tools the site provides for blogs and self-organizing activities.
I’ve been posting at corpgov.net since 1995, so Glyn’s absence won’t stop me from forging ahead in my attempt to work with others to create more democratic approaches to corporate governance. I will continue filing proxy access and other shareowner proposals aimed at companies in my portfolio, as well as helping others, but will certainly miss Glyn’s participation.
Investors have pulled almost $100 billion out of domestic equity funds since January. That’s a tough environment for building a grassroots organization of investors who see themselves as shareowners, instead of sharehoders. If you have any ideas on how it can be done, please let me know.