Environmental & Social Voting at Index Funds

Les fonds d’investissement apportent-ils réellement leur soutien aux critères lorsqu’ils exercent leur vote ? Voilà une belle à laquelle un auteur apporte malheureusement une réponse négative : Caleb Griffin, Environmental & Social Voting at Index Funds (February 14, 2020), https://ssrn.com/abstract=. On est donc encore loin des voeux affichés par les gros joueurs de l’industrie semble-t-il…

Résumé :

This Article demonstrates that, despite a considerable marketing focus on their E&S efforts, overall support for E&S proposals is low for the Big Three.

In the 2018-2019 proxy season, Vanguard’s largest funds supported 7.5% of unique shareholder E&S proposals, while State Street’s largest funds supported 22.7% of such proposals and BlackRock’s largest funds supported 7.1% of such proposals. Other funds support E&S proposals at far higher rates (e.g., Deutsche Bank at 77.9%) and far lower rates (e.g., Dimensional at 0%). Given that funds have a fiduciary duty to vote in the “best interests” of their investors, which fund got it right? The surprising answer is that no one knows—not even the funds themselves. Only by blind luck could these funds, who seek no input from their investors and make no serious attempts to discern investor preferences, be accurately reflecting investors’ interests with their voting behaviors. What are the odds that all, or even the majority, of Vanguard’s investors would benefit from just 7.5% of shareholder E&S proposals while State Street’s shareholders would benefit from 22.7% and Deutsche’s shareholders would benefit from 77.9%? What is the likelihood that BlackRock’s SRI investors would be satisfied with support for 27.7% of E&S proposals while Vanguard’s SRI investors were satisfied with support for 2.2% of such proposals? Is it probable that Guggenheim’s investors are well-served by 77.9% of SRI activities while Dimensional’s investors were well-served by exactly 0% of them?

Ultimately, this Article concludes that it is a convenient myth that index fund stewardship teams are even marginally constrained by the “best interests” standard when voting on E&S proposals, and likely other proposals as well. The truth is that these index funds, possessing the power to decide the fate of most E&S proposals, can do as they wish with that power. The status quo urgently needs change to ensure that index funds are truly acting in investors’ best interests. This Article proposes that such constraint should come in the form of greater input from index fund investors.

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Ce contenu a été mis à jour le 5 mai 2020 à 15 h 55 min.


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