US SEC: Comments sought on pay ratio disclosure rule

SEC Securities & Exchange Commission

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seeking comments from companies are encountering as they look to comply with the CEO Pay Ratio disclosure rule which took effect for financial years from 1st January 2017. The rule, hotly debated by business and investors alike, requests companies to disclose the ratio of the median of the annual total pay of all employees to the annual total pay of the chief executive.… Read the rest

President Trump begins rollback of Dodd-Frank

Donal Trump rolls back Dodd-Frank

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday (3rd February) seeking a review of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulatory framework. At the same time President Trump has rescinded the Fiduciary Rule which was designed to eliminate investment advisor conflicts-of-interest in respect of retirement plans.… Read the rest

USA: Investor Stewardship Group launches Codes

Investor Stewardship Group

The US has moved a step closer to a national stewardship and governance code with the launch of the Investor Stewardship Group. The signatories and supporters of the $17 trillion group are now urging all institutional investors to join the framework.… Read the rest

US firms and investors call on Trump to tackle climate change

Lars Petersson, CEO of IKEA-USA

A coalition of 530 US companies and 100 institutional investors have called on President-elect Donald Trump and politicians in Congress to embrace a low carbon economy and tackle climate change ahead of Trump’s inauguration later this month.

In a statement, which is also addressed to the the outgoing President Obama and global leaders, the signatories said they re-affirmed their deep commitment to addressing climate change through the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.… Read the rest

US updates ESG & voting guidance for ERISA funds

Phyllis Borzl - DoL

US regulators have responded to concerns that employee pension plans have not been exercising their shareholder rights by issuing updated guidance on proxy voting for 2017.

The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) agency said that it is has long believed that it is important for plan administrators to know what their responsibilities are when they vote proxies on those shares or exercise other shareholder rights.… Read the rest

Dimon takes chair of governance hawks, BRT

Jamie Dimon

As US Republicans accelerate their plans to dismantle much of the Dodd Frank regulatory framework, Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive (CEO) of JPMorgan Chase, has been appointed as the next chairman of the US  issuer lobby, Business Roundtable (BRT).

BRT’s members are the chief executives of the largest American companies; together with the US Chamber of Commerce, BRT has actively campaigned to roll back shareholder rights and reduce governance standards.… Read the rest

US investors, companies back Paris climate change agreement

cop22 climate change logo

Climate change targets and a commitment to support the United Nations-led Paris Agreement have been agreed by US companies and investors at a press conference at the UN’s  COP 22 Climate Change meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco. Signatories want to send a strong message to US politicians, including President-elect Donald Trump, that, whatever the political stance, they would be working to cut greenhouse gas emissions.… Read the rest

SEC proposes universal proxy cards

US SEC improves shareholder democarcy

In a move to improve shareholder democracy the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed that universal proxy cards be introduced that allow investors to vote for directors as they would if they attended the company’s annual general meeting. However, one of the Commissioner, Michael Piwowar, has expressed his opposition to the proposal claiming that the changes pander to special interests.… Read the rest

Wells Fargo’s Stumpf resigns as shareholders re-state demand for reforms

John Stumpf, the chairman and chief Executive (CEO) of  troubled US bank Wells Fargo, has quit following admissions of fraudulent activities, including the opening of customer accounts without permission. Stumpf’s replacement as CEO is Tim Sloan, the company’s president and chief operating officer.… Read the rest

US Council of Institutional Investors speaks out against regressive “Choice” Act

The US Council of Institutional of Investors (CII) has written to the House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee objecting to a number of proposals in its Financial CHOICE Act – which has now been approved by committee.

This proposed law is part of earlier attempts by the Committee – in a series of bills passed in the summer – to repeal large chunks of the Dodd-Frank Act which was enacted following the 2008 financial crash and subsequent recession and aimed to address some of the failings of the financial system.… Read the rest

US business leaders call for backing of “common sense corporate governance principles”

Jamie Dimon

A group of 13 US and Canadian fund managers, pension funds and company bosses have taken the unprecedented step of endorsing a set of corporate governance principles in a bid to quell rising unease and conflict around US governance standards.

In an open letter the business leaders, who include Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of JP Morgan Chase, Larry Fink chairman and chief executive of BlackRock, veteran activist investor Warren Buffet head of Berkshire Hathaway, Mary Barra, chairman and chief executive of General Motors and Mark Machin chief executive of  the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, indicate that while they have various opinions on corporate governance, “We share the view that constructive dialogue requires finding common ground — a starting point to foster the economic growth that benefits shareholders, employees and the economy as a whole.… Read the rest

Prominent ESG investor objects to US legislators’ plans to curb proxy advisers

Walden Asset Management has added its voice to those criticising the proposed Corporate Governance Reform and Transparency Act of 2016 (HR 5311) passed last month by the US House of Representatives’ Finance Services Committee.

In a letter to  Jeb Hensarling the chairman and Maxine Waters, a member of the committee the ESG-focused asset manager Walden agreed with other opponents of the bill believing that it undermined proxy voting providers whose services provided research and guided the proxy voting decisions of institutional investors.… Read the rest