VANCOUVER, BC – The 2013 Key Proxy Vote Survey Questionnaire, released today, gives pension trustees, foundations, Aboriginal trusts, religious investors and other institutional investors an opportunity to encourage their investment managers and proxy service providers to disclose how they voted on 21 of the most important ballot issues in 2013.
The 2013 Key Proxy Vote Survey Questionnaire was sent to approximately 60 investment managers and proxy voting service providers that vote the proxy ballots of Canadian companies on behalf of pension plans and other institutional investors.
“The results of the annual proxy vote survey are an invaluable tool for trustees to gain insights into how proxies are voted on their behalf,” says Lori Mayhew, trustee of the COPE 378 Pension Plan.
The 21 key votes chosen for 2013 include issues related to the appointment of directors, executive compensation and auditor appointments. “These may sound like business as usual proxy issues, but when you dig into the details, I am confident that trustees will want to know how their investment managers and proxy service providers voted on their behalf,” says Catherine Smith, Senior Proxy Analyst at SHARE and author of the annual key proxy vote survey report.
One prominent issue on this year’s key vote list are three advisory votes on executive compensation, or “say-on-pay”. For example, at Barrick Gold Corporation, an overwhelming 85% of shareholders voted against management recognizing that paying its top five executive officers a total of $56.8 million, including an $11.9 million hiring bonus to co-Chairman John L. Thornton, was particularly excessive given Barrick’s net loss of $670 million last year. Pay votes at Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian Natural Resources are also included in the survey.
Such proxy ballot issues can help to shed light on the attention and care with which investment managers and proxy voting services are voting proxies on behalf of clients.
“For fiduciaries, it is essential that their proxies are analyzed and voted carefully because excessive executive compensation and compensation that is not tied to performance can increase investor risk and diminish the long-term value of the company.” states Smith.
Trustees, investment committee members and other institutional investors are encouraged to download the Proxy Vote Survey Questionnaire and send it to their investment managers or proxy voting service providers requesting that they respond to the survey.
The Canadian Key Proxy Vote Survey is a project of the Columbia Institute, Fonds de solidarité (FTQ) and the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE).
For more information visit the Proxy Survey website at: www.proxyvotesurvey.ca