Main Street investors support stricter oversight of proxy advisors as recently proposed by the SEC, according to recent surveys.
Seventy-five percent of retail investors support the regulator’s amendments for proxy advisors, wealth management research firm Spectrem Group says in a press release.
Ninety percent of investors, for example, support disabling robo-voting when a hyperlink to additional information is included in proxy advisor reports, according to two surveys of 5,000 respondents.
Spectrem surveyed the respondents in April and November. The respondents were 19 years and older and had at least $10,000 invested in any combination of stocks and bonds, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.
While 69% of respondents supported increasing the regulator’s oversight of proxy advisors in April, the proportion grew to 81% by November, Spectrem says.
The surveys were both designed in collaboration with J.W. Verret, a board member of the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee, which advises the watchdog on regulatory priorities and other issues. Verret is also a law professor at George Mason University.
Critics of the SEC’s proxy voting proposal say it’s biased toward companies and industry lobbyists such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that want to limit the power of proxy advisory firms. During a November meeting discussing comments on the proposal, SEC chairman Jay Clayton highlighted what he said were 300 unique comment letters in support of the changes, saying that some of them came from retail investors. But a Bloomberg report later claimed that some of the letters were in fact part of a public relations campaign. Last month, two Democratic senators said that one of the purported commenters, for example, never wrote the letter, while others were written by family members of the chairman of an advocacy group.