When a company issues bad or less-than-good news on a Friday or the eve of a major holiday, say just before July 4th, investors and the media generally squawk like the proverbial stuck pig. And there is some justification for that squawking. After all, good news and bad news should be treated in a similar manner, and IMHO it’s too cute by half when a company tries to sneak something past the public at an odd time in the hopes that it won’t be noticed.
However, it appears that Institutional Shareholder Services does not regard itself as subject to the same concerns. Specifically, on November 2, the eve of what was arguably one of the most newsworthy if not significant elections in recent history, ISS snuck out an announcement that, effective January 2, 2021, it would no longer provide draft proxy voting reports to the S&P 500. Apparently, ISS – which has long been criticized for limiting the distribution of draft voting reports to the S&P 500 – has decided that the way to eliminate that criticism is not to send out draft reports at all.
Instead, ISS will send out proxy voting reports to its clients — i.e., investors — earlier and will send reports to all issuers at the same time at no cost. Thus (according to ISS), companies will have the time to provide feedback, and we’re assured that its “formal ‘Alert’ process” will enable companies to correct any errors and investors to change their votes. Anyone who’s gone head-to-head with ISS knows how well that process works; corrective alerts can get lost in the shuffle, votes don’t get changed, etc. And this new policy will almost surely lead to a big increase in the number of alerts.
Continue Reading ISS Tries to Hide in Not-So-Plain Sight