October 12, 2010
I am writing this letter to express my opinion on the overall proxy and voting process. I came across this comment link when looking for an 8K filing for a company I currently invest and found it interesting that not many shareholders have posted their thoughts. I own a portfolio of shares with many companies through my broker and also in my own name for individual, IRA, Joint, and Custodial accounts. Some of these accounts are very significant and I feel my opinions should be heard.
I would like to say that when I first started investing in High School I used to receive 50-75 Proxies, Annual Reports, and the like throughout the year. My mom wanted to kill me for cluttering our mailbox but today she thanks me for directing some of her funds into certain companies In any event, I have seen a drastic improvement over the past 10-15 years in the overall communication between me and the companies I hold shares with.
Proxy Communication Process-
I have not personally experienced any faults in the communication process in my time investing in US Securities. I have access to everything I need on your website for filings, insider ownership, etc. and I receive communication from companies periodically. I also contact each company on their website if desired and have the ability to attend webcasts and the like throughout the year.
I hold multiple accounts with my broker so I requested in the past that we only receive on set of materials in the mail consolidating proxy materials, annual reports, informational mailings, etc. This has worked very well and it improved as time went on with technology.
Electronic delivery has been superb. Once this email process started I instantly enrolled my brokerage account(s) in e-delivery and every year like clockwork I get an email from my broker at firstname.lastname@example.org which details how to vote, where to view the materials, and why the company has decided to send this email. It appears that the email links to an outside party who does this for my broker however it has all of my brokers information for me to communicate with them if necessary. In fact, iIf I didnt dig further I wouldnt know it wasnt them sending me the email since their logo is on it I have since saved www.proxyvote.com in my favorites and visit this site frequently when I receive materials for a vote.
For some positions I have held directly with the company in certificates I started receiving a notice slip directing me to the website. Once I visited the site I opted for email delivery going forward. I cant imagine the number of sets that have been eliminated just by this process alone and commend whoever is making these decisions at the SEC for these new regulations. My mom would sure thank you today since she wouldnt need a sack to carry our mail in the house
I have received harassing phone calls throughout the years from companies that I have never heard of, nor did I know how they received my personal information. I used to let them go to straight to my answering machine but then I got frustrated and started to ask them why are you calling me. I learned that they were obtaining my personal information from the companies I invested in and they had a specific agenda for their call. At times these folks were very aggressive and politician like. I would indicate, Sorry I have already voted or I am not interested but the discussion did not end there. I basically had to put a block on my number, I listed it private, I then contacted the federal do not call list and also called the companies I own shares in to tell them to leave me off this list. Apparently this needed to be done through my broker so I contacted them. They told me I needed to be an objecting owner of shares, you classify this as OBO in your release. In this day in age, I do not want my investment information floating around. I feel it should stay secure with my broker and if they need something they will email me, call me, or send me materials as they have always done therefore I am an OBO now.
In this economic environment, I do understand the concerns raised by some parties in this comment board about costs etc. However I feel the current system works well and there must be a significant amount of work/cost/infrastructure to manage billions of communications throughout the year. The companies we invest in should be considering internal changes to pay and other perks to be able to afford effective shareholder communications and not always looking for help or bailouts. I also feel that if this process was to ever revert back to my high school days where I received so many different instructions and sets of material I would be frustrated and less prone to participate in voting. It is an easy process today for the average shareholder to communicate, vote, and stay active as an investor. While considering possible changes to the communication process, I ask that you please protect the privacy of shareholders and maintain the effective process that is in place.