American values were recognized as at risk in 1932 when Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means argued that with dispersed shareholders, ownership has been separated from their control. (The Modern Corporation and Private Property) Ironically, concentration of equities under the umbrella of three or four indexed funds presents an opportunity to end that divide and make companies better reflect American values by being more accountable to their beneficial owners. Accomplishing that goal depends on transparent governance, such as proxy voting, and fostering real dialogue on the issues faced by corporations and investors. As I have argued, real-time disclosure of proxy votes could drive these huge funds to compete with each other based on not only profits and costs but their governance efforts, as reflected in proxy voting records. Continue Reading →
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The following is a letter I sent to the SEC-IAC regarding their upcoming 12/13 Discussion Regarding Disclosures on ESG Topics. These recommendations overlap with my comments at the SEC Proxy Process Roundtable and re File Number 4-725. Some of the recommendations are slightly tangential to the Upcoming 12/13 Discussion Regarding Disclosures on ESG Topics. However, my hope is to at least plant seeds, since the Commission has to respond in writing to recommendations made by the SEC, whereas comments to the Commission can be ignored.
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2018 CPA-Zicklin Index shows gradual improvement. Public corporations embracing disclosure and accountability of their political spending hold fast despite countervailing pressures from Washington. Continue Reading →
The battle over Main Street Investors could determine the future of the American economy for decades to come. According to Cydney Posner of Cooley PubCo, on one side are those who believe investors must focus on maximizing financial return and management knows best. On the other side are those who want to broaden the focus of investors to include environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, with everyone participating in the debate. Continue Reading →