Pensions, Other Shareholders Make for Busy Proxy Season

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Major shareholders, including many pension funds, are increasingly pushing for a say in how corporations operate.

The trend has led to a bump in proxy proposals this year, and the New York Common Retirement Fund has been particularly busy.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Proxy proposals on these issues accounted for 46% of all investor submissions for annual meetings last year, up from 37% the year before, according to Ernst & Young LLP’s Center for Board Matters.

The trend is gaining traction: more than half of proxy proposals so far this season are on issues ranging from climate change and sustainability to lobbying and campaign contributions. “After the financial crisis, there’s more attention to how risks can be managed across a better range of issues,” said Kellie Huennekens, assistant director of the E&Y center. “Shareholders are asking for more quantitative data reports and policies.”

[…]

This proxy season, the New York state comptroller has filed 27 proposals on political spending and sustainability issues, on behalf of the New York State Common Retirement Fund.

The giant fund, with more than $176 billion in assets, has withdrawn 14 of those proposals because the companies have agreed to make changes.

One of those companies was U.S. Steel Corp., which last month agreed to publicly report its corporate political spending.

Read more Pension360 coverage of proxy access here.

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