Do ISS Voting Recommendations Create Shareholder Value?
5 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2011 Last revised: 3 Sep 2013
Date Written: April 19, 2011
Many institutional investors rely on a proxy advisory firm to assist them in voting the company proxy and fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to vote in the interest of beneficial shareholders. The largest and most influential proxy advisory firm is Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). The recommendations of ISS are not inconsequential. Academic and professional research suggests that a recommendation by ISS can change the outcome of a vote by 15 to 20 percent, depending on the matter of the proposal.
At the same time, there is little evidence that proxy advisory recommendations are correct or that they improve corporate outcomes. In fact recent research suggests that they might actually decrease shareholder value.
We examine these issues as they relate to ISS guidelines for exchange offers and option repricings:
Do proxy advisors have appropriate incentive to verify that their recommendations are correct?
Should board members require evidence that ISS guidelines are value increasing before they adjust their policies to gain a favorable recommendation?
Proxy advisory firms enjoy significant barriers to entry and little competition. Is this desirable for shareholders?
Related Research Paper on SSRN: The Role of Proxy Advisory Firms in Stock Option Exchanges; Authors: David F. Larcker , Allan L. McCall and Gaizka Ormazabal , Stanford Graduate School of Business: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1811130.
Topics, Issues and Controversies in Corporate Governance and Leadership: The Closer Look series is a collection of short case studies through which we explore topics, issues, and controversies in corporate governance. In each study, we take a targeted look at a specific issue that is relevant to the current debate on governance and explain why it is so important. Larcker and Tayan are co-authors of the book Corporate Governance Matters, and A Real Look at Real World Corporate Governance.
Keywords: proxy advisory firms, stock option exchanges, institutional shareholder voting, proxy voting
JEL Classification: G1, G3, K2, L5
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation