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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

SEC Gathers Intel on Proxy Advisors' Work With Fundsters

News summary by MFWire's editors

The role of proxy advisors in helping fundsters cast shareholder votes is under scrutiny, and the SEC wants to learn more.

Ross Kerber and Sarah Lynch of Reuters report that tomorrow the regulatory agency will hold an event on the issue, with those speaking including executives from BlackRock [profile] and Charles Schwab [profile].

This summer Republican SEC commissioner Daniel Gallagher called on the agency to curb fundsters' heavy reliance on proxy advisory shops. Now, in a speech yesterday, Gallagher wondered if, as part of a rules change, the SEC could lighten the burden on small mutual fund firms by tweaking the standard that they must cast "vote on every vote."

SEC Chair Mary Jo White, meanwhile, reportedly has avoiding taking a position yet, telling journalists at Gallagher's speech yesterday that fundsters, "despite what some misguided academics suggest, are not shirking their fiduciary responsibilities."

Others who weighed in for the Reuters article include: University of Pennsylvania law professor Jill Fisch, who worries that new rules could increase costs for mutual fund shops; a spokesperson for proxy advisory firm ISS, which is part of MSCI; K.T. Rabin, CEO of proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis; and Jack Zwingli, CEO of Incentive Lab, who predicts that funds might have to buy research from multiple proxy advisors, driving up costs. 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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