30 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2018
Date Written: February 7, 2018
This paper analyzes the voting patterns of institutional investors from their proxy voting records. It estimates a spatial model of voting, using the W-NOMINATE scaling for voting in legislatures. We find that institutional investors’ ideology (or ideal points) can be mapped onto a left-right dimension, just as legislators’ ideologies can be represented along a left-right spectrum. The far-left investors are socially responsible investors and the far-right investors are “greedy” investors, those opposed to proposals that could financially cost shareholders. There are significant ideological differences across institutional investors and there is no shareholder unanimity. The proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) plays a role similar to a political party. A second adviser, Glass Lewis, has fewer followers. We find that the ideology of ISS is center-left, to the left of most institutional investors and Glass Lewis. Furthermore, Vanguard and Blackrock are center-right, and the ideology reflected in management proposals and voting recommendations is far to the right. Investors on the left support a more social orientation of the firm on environmental and other issues. They also support fewer executive compensation proposals.
Keywords: Institutional Investors, Proxy Voting, Ideal Points, Spatial Model of Voting
JEL Classification: G23, G30, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation