Wednesday, April 30, 2008

CSM weighs in on the value of proxy voting

[Dinnen, Steve. "Proxy ballots: Your chance to make a difference,” The Christian Science Monitor, 28 April 2008.]

"Shareholder resolutions often spring up from individual investors. But their fate generally is in the hands of institutions, such as pension plans and mutual funds, which own or control large blocks of stock in a particular company. Mutual-fund companies don't typically communicate their voting plans with their shareholders, but ProxyDemocracy tracks how 80 of the largest funds vote their shares.

"A lot of little voices can add up to one big voice, says James McRitchie, who runs, a website that follows corporate governance issues. He urges shareholders to open the proxy statements that they receive from firms.

"While shareholders are noted for voting with their feet – cashing out a stock that they're unhappy with – Mr. McRitchie says that with some moxie, even little guys can sometimes make a difference.

"[H]e believes that in the post-Enron era, corporate America is listening more to individual shareholders. And investors are better at talking.

"'Internet tools like message boards, social networking, and video-exchange sites are making it easier to galvanize support around good ideas," he says. 'You can make a difference.'"

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