Bending into shareholder pressures, large institutional investors, including mutual and pension funds, are beginning to show more of an interest in their proxy voting records, the Associated Press reports.
Whereas it has long been common for them to outsource these decisions to such companies as Glass Lewis, Proxy Governance and Institutional Shareholder Services, investors are now beginning to take them in-house. As a result, proxy consulting firms are now creating new products to help institutional investors devise voting governance standards.
“Shareholders and institutional investors are taking much more of an interest in [governance] issues,” said Donald Kirshbaum, investment officer in the Connecticut Office of State Treasurer.
“More and more institutional investors are moving toward their own spin on their own views of governance,” said Cheryl Gustitus, a spokeswoman for Institutional Shareholder Services. Over the past three years, ever since the Securities and Exchange Commission began requiring mutual funds to disclose their voting histories annually, the number of ISS clients moving to taking these decisions in-house has increased 27% annually, Gustitus said. At Glass Lewis, which launched its customized voting service a year ago, half of the firm’s existing clients have moved at least one of their voting criteria to the platform, and 100 more clients have signed on, said the company’s chief executive officer, Greg Taxin. And at Proxy Governance, which also launched such a service a year ago, half of the clients are using the tool, said Steve Wallman, founder of the company.