STATEMENT: ISS STATEMENT ON ACCF-SPONSORED ADVOCACY ESSAY ON PROXY ADVISORY INDUSTRY
This post is written by and reflects the ideas of Institutional Shareholder Services.
Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) issued the following statement in response to the 10/29/18 American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF)-sponsored advocacy essay by Frank Placenti. This statement can be attributed to Lorraine Kelly, ISS’ Head of Governance Solutions.
“Institutional investors are not robots as suggested in the report. ISS’ clients are sophisticated institutional investors who owe a fiduciary duty to their plan beneficiaries; they control their voting policies and vote decisions and are ultimately accountable to the plan beneficiaries.
“ISS clients vote their views and do so in an informed and timely manner that factors in a variety of inputs including data and analytics available upon publication of ISS’ benchmark research. Nearly nine in 10 shares voted by ISS on behalf of its clients are tied to custom policies created by our clients and not by ISS, and ISS has no discretion to determine a vote decision in the absence of a client’s instructions on a given ballot item.
“Despite the misleading assertions in this paper, ISS has strong fact-checking protocols and a lengthy track record for accuracy. In calendar 2017, ISS covered over 6,400 meetings in the U.S. and more than 38,000 meetings worldwide. The error rate, as defined by the publication of research Alerts resulting in a change to ISS’ initial recommendation, was under 1 percent (0.76 percent).
“Proxy advisers are valued by investors, who hire and retain firms like ISS for our expertise, thorough research and analysis, and unbiased recommendations. Importantly there is no requirement that investors follow the recommendations of proxy advisers.
“It’s no surprise that the ACCF, a corporate lobbying group and key backer of the Main Street Investors Coalition that is campaigning to hinder the rights of shareholders, has commissioned a paper that advocates for weakening the current system that protects the flow of information and research between proxy advisers and their investor clients, a system intentionally kept independent from influence by the very companies being analyzed.”
About ISS Founded in 1985 as Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., ISS is the world’s leading provider of corporate governance and responsible investment (RI) solutions for asset owners, asset managers, hedge funds, and asset service providers. ISS’ solutions include: objective governance research and recommendations; RI data, analytics, and research; end-to-end proxy voting and distribution solutions; turnkey securities class-action claims management (provided by Securities Class Action Services, LLC); and reliable global governance data and modeling tools. Clients rely on ISS' expertise to help them make informed corporate governance and responsible investment decisions. For more information, please visit www.issgovernance.com.