In remarks before the National Press Club this morning, the chief executive of the nation’s largest shareholder communications company called on all CEOs to encourage individual shareholders, including employee shareholders, to vote their proxies.
“In 2010, just one in 20 individual retail investors voiced their opinions about the companies they invested in by exercising their fundamental shareholder right. That compares to recent historical levels four to five times as high. Public companies need to understand the seriousness of this issue and act to reverse this troubling decline to get each of their individual investors – and all individual investors generally – engaged with their companies,” said Richard Daly, CEO of Broadridge Financial Solutions.
Broadridge is the market leader in enabling the secure and accurate processing of information for communications and securities transactions among issuers, investors and financial intermediaries. Broadridge provides the infrastructure that underpins proxy services for over 90% of public companies and mutual funds in North America.
Daly explained that as the initial step in an overall strategy to increase individual shareholder voting, he is calling on chief executives of American businesses to “join with us in launching a nationwide effort to encourage their employees – numbering in the tens of millions – to exercise a fundamental shareholder right – and need – to vote their proxy ballots, whether it be proxies relating to their employer or proxies relating to other companies in which they invest,” he said.
As part of the effort, Daly said he is contacting the chief executives of America’s top 1,000 public companies to encourage them to motivate their employee shareholders to vote their shares.
In addition, he is helping companies realize efficiencies in engaging their shareholders. In every investor communications distribution Broadridge makes, where the investor is not receiving communications through digital channels, Broadridge will inform them – within the constraints of regulatory boundaries – that they have the ability to take action online, eliminate the paper, have all information stored in any format they want, have access to it anywhere they want and vote at any time they want, even on such new devices as Android phones and the iPad.
“A relatively small increase in voting participation by employees could meaningfully increase individual investor voting participation from 5% per year to 20% or more per year,” Daly stated.
“Companies that can distinguish their investors’ opinions from others’ will more easily have the strength and confidence to stay on course and create value. There is no greater show of support than the ballot, or in this case, the proxy,” Daly concluded.
According to the company, the number of shares voted has no effect on Broadridge’s revenue.