The Role of Proxy Advisors and Large Passive Funds in Shareholder Voting: Lions or Lambs?

41 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2016 Last revised: 23 Feb 2020

See all articles by Audra L. Boone

Audra L. Boone

Texas Christian University - M.J. Neeley School of Business

Stuart Gillan

University of Georgia - Department of Finance

Mitch Towner

University of Arizona - Department of Finance

Date Written: February 20, 2020

Abstract

Proxy advisory firms and large passive mutual funds have faced criticism both for being too powerful and not exercising diligence in proxy voting. We document that the ``Big 3'' passive fund families, Blackrock, State Street, and Vanguard, are increasingly likely to vote with management, and their support is paramount in approving controversial proposals. Meanwhile, mutual funds overall are increasingly less likely to vote according to ISS recommendations. Moreover, neither ISS nor Glass-Lewis recommendations are predictive of controversial proposals passing, especially post-financial-crisis. Our findings suggest that the Big 3 are increasingly influential in voting, and that ISS appears less influential over time.

Keywords: Corporate Voting, Mutual Funds, Index Funds, Big 3, Proxy Advisory Firms, Corporate Governance

JEL Classification: G23, G34, K22

Suggested Citation

Boone, Audra and Gillan, Stuart L. and Towner, Mitch, The Role of Proxy Advisors and Large Passive Funds in Shareholder Voting: Lions or Lambs? (February 20, 2020). 2nd Annual Financial Institutions, Regulation and Corporate Governance Conference. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2831550 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2831550

Audra Boone

Texas Christian University - M.J. Neeley School of Business ( email )

Fort Worth, TX 76129
United States

Stuart L. Gillan

University of Georgia - Department of Finance ( email )

Terry College of Business
Athens, GA 30602-6253
United States

Mitch Towner (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - Department of Finance ( email )

1130 E. Helen Street
Office 315K
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.mitchtowner.com

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