Thursday, October 14, 2021

DOL to Reverse Rules "Chilling" ESG Investing and Proxy Voting

Author: David Schwartz

The U.S. Labor Department (DOL) has proposed regulations that would greatly expand how retirement and pension plans can invest in ESG strategies and clarify the scope of ERISA plans' responsibility for proxy voting.  If adopted, the DOL's proposal, drafted by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), will reverse the former administration's regulations on ESG factors in retirement portfolios and ERISA fiduciaries' use of proxy voting powers in favor of social or political goals. 

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

SEC Expands Investment Company Proxy Disclosures

New Light on Funds' Securities Lending versus Proxy Voting

Author: David Schwartz

On September 29, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a proposal to expand investment company disclosures of their proxy voting activities. If adopted, the rules would enhance the information mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and other regulated investment companies are required to report on Form N-PX under the Investment Company Act. These expanded disclosures are intended to make proxy voting decisions made by investment company advisers more complete, accessible, and understandable to investors. 

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Sunday, December 20, 2020

Compliance with the DOL's New Proxy Rules May Stump ERISA Fiduciaries

A counter-revolution in ESG Investing?

Author: David Schwartz

On Friday, December 11, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued its final rules on proxy voting by ERISA fiduciaries. As proposed last August 30, the draft rules drew hundreds of responses by the ESG-directed investing community, many of which criticized as unworkable the DOL proposal. The final version of the rules eliminates the need for plan sponsors to weigh the economic vs. non-economic effects before casting their proxy votes. Yet that softer, principles-based approach may itself create compliance problems for ERISA fiduciaries -- and may not even survive the first hundred days of the Biden administration.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SEC Announces February 19 Proxy Roundtable

Author: David Schwartz
Today, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it will hold a February 19 public roundtable discussion on improving the proxy voting process. The roundtable, which will be held at the SEC’s Washington, DC headquarters, will focus on universal proxy ballots and retail participation in the proxy process.
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Should Pension Funds Police Corporate Governance?

Author: David Schwartz

It is often said that good corporate governance helps reduce a company’s investment risk, ensures the effective deployment of shareholder capital, and ultimately contributes to the long-term performance of public companies. . . On the other hand, the absence of a robust corporate governance infrastructure can lead to poor decisions resulting in bad outcomes for the company and its shareholders. 

SEC Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar has long been a champion of empowering shareholders to enforce sound corporate governance.  In a July 1, 2014 address before a meeting of the Latinos on Fast Track (LOFT) Investors Forum, Commissioner Aguilar once again addressed the role pension plans and other institutional investors play in ensuring that the companies they invest in make sound governance decisions.  Not only are pension funds obligated to vote their shares, according to Aguilar, but they should also work to make certain that shareholder voting rights are not restricted, and actively support measures that support shareholder rights and enhance their ability to communicate their views to management.
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