August 2, 2010
We are Registered Investment Advisors, managing portfolios as fiduciaries for our clients.
A fairly recent requirement of us by the S.E.C. called for extensive and semi-permanent record-keeping by us of our decisions in voting proxies - a requirement so onerous to a firm our size that we felt compelled to resign our authority to vote proxies.
Our clients, for whatever reasons - many lack the time or training- choose to have us make their investment decisions. They deliberately out-source the investment process.
Since they are not involved in the selection or monitoring of their stocks, bonds or mutual funds, when confronted by a proxy, they regularly discard it.
This, of course, often causes the soliciting company added expense when a minimum number of votes is required, as they must retain a third party to call clients and plead for a proxy vote.
And, of course, all of our clients are effectively dis-enfranchised, as we cannot fulfill our complete duty of managing their investments and they lack the requisite information to vote intelligently.
The Commissions failure to establish workable rules in a size-based fashion should change so that firms smaller than a mutual fund company can fully serve its clients.
Alternatively, should an investment manager choose to vote proxies in favor of managements propositions, no record should be required - choosing to own or retain ownership should be sufficient reason, without extensive additional record-keeping. Let the requirement stand for nay votes, which would be rare.
Curt Weil, CFP