Op-Ed: BlackRock Makes Its Own Proxy-Voting Choices
This piece originally appeared on September 27, 2018 on The Wall Street Journal and was written by Karen Barr.
Regarding your editorial “Cracking the Proxy Racket” (Sept. 18): BlackRock supports the SEC’s efforts to facilitate a discussion on various aspects of proxy voting and shareholder engagement. The trend toward index investing has benefited millions of people around the world saving for retirement and other goals. What it has not done is increase the power of proxy advisory firms. Asset-management firms that sponsor index funds have dedicated teams focused on company engagement and proxy voting. BlackRock’s investment stewardship team has more than 40 professionals responsible for developing independent views on how we should vote proxies on behalf of our clients.
Furthermore, the claim that shareholder proposals are voted on “in block” by large asset managers based purely on the recommendations of ISS and Glass Lewis isn’t supported by the data. In our recently published ViewPoint, we reviewed the voting records of four large asset managers on shareholder proposals. The results couldn’t have been more clear: The managers’ voting patterns differed considerably from each other and from ISS recommendations. While ISS recommended in favor of over 70% of the shareholder proposals, the four managers supported between 14% and 33% of these proposals, with tremendous variation in the underlying votes. The only factor that dictates how BlackRock votes during proxy season is our fiduciary commitment to delivering long-term value for our clients.