On November 15, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hosted a roundtable discussion about the U.S. proxy system, which included the shareholder proposal process, proxy voting mechanics and technology, and the role and regulation of proxy advisors. In this episode, Paul Atkins, Former SEC Commissioner and current CEO of Patomak Global Partners, reviews these various “proxy plumbing” issues and offers an insider’s perspective to the viewers of “Inside America’s Boardrooms”.
The proxy process is the cornerstone that enables investor participation in corporate governance at today’s public companies. Atkins outlines various trends, including a greater concentration of equity ownership into the hands of institutional investors, which are driving these conversations:
Part of what the SEC is going to be focusing on with shareholder proposals is re-submission thresholds. For example, how often and under what rules should they be re-submitted year after year. [The SEC will also be] looking at proxy advisory firms…[including] the power, the lack of transparency that they have…, and the underlying rules that create this. It’s a good time for the SEC to refocus on this.
Host TK Kerstetter also gets Atkin’s view on (1) proposed federal charters legislation developed and espoused by Senator Warren and (2) the leadership changes reported by CalPERS moving to a more economic and less political investment platform.