485APOS 1 aam_dmdv_485a.htm POST EFFECTIVE AMENDMENT


Filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on August 23, 2018
1933 Act Registration File No. 333-179562
1940 Act File No. 811-22668
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C.  20549

FORM N‑1A
REGISTRATION STATEMENT UNDER THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933
Pre‑Effective Amendment No.        
Post‑Effective Amendment No. 383
and
 
REGISTRATION STATEMENT UNDER THE INVESTMENT COMPANY ACT OF 1940
Amendment No. 384
(Check appropriate box or boxes.)
ETF SERIES SOLUTIONS
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Charter)

615 East Michigan Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
(Address of Principal Executive Offices, Zip Code)

 (Registrant’s Telephone Number, including Area Code): (414) 765-5586

Michael D. Barolsky, Vice President and Assistant Secretary
ETF Series Solutions
c/o U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, LLC
777 East Wisconsin Avenue, 10th Floor
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
(Name and Address of Agent for Service)

Copy to:
W. John McGuire
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
1111 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004-2541

Approximate Date of Proposed Public Offering: As soon as practical after the effective date of this Registration Statement
It is proposed that this filing will become effective
immediately upon filing pursuant to paragraph (b)
on ____________ pursuant to paragraph (b)
60 days after filing pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)
on ____________ pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)
75 days after filing pursuant to paragraph (a)(2)
on ____________ pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of Rule 485.

If appropriate, check the following box

[     ]
this post-effective amendment designates a new effective date for a previously filed post-effective amendment.
 

 
SUBJECT TO COMPLETION
Dated August 23, 2018

THE INFORMATION HEREIN IS NOT COMPLETE AND MAY BE CHANGED. WE MAY NOT SELL THESE SECURITIES UNTIL THE REGISTRATION STATEMENT FILED WITH THE SEC IS EFFECTIVE. THIS PROSPECTUS IS NOT AN OFFER TO SELL THESE SECURITIES AND IS NOT SOLICITING AN OFFER TO BUY THESE SECURITIES IN ANY JURISDICTION IN WHICH THE OFFER OR SALE IS NOT PERMITTED.

PROSPECTUS



AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF (DMDV)



Listed on NYSE Arca, Inc.

[  ], 2018





The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has not approved or disapproved of these securities or passed upon the accuracy or adequacy of this Prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.
 


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AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF


Investment Objective
The AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the total return performance, before fees and expenses, of the S&P Developed Ex-U.S. Dividend and Free Cash Flow Yield Index (the “Index”).
Fees and Expenses of the Fund
This table describes the fees and expenses that you may pay if you buy and hold shares of the Fund (“Shares”). This table and the Example below do not include the brokerage commissions that investors may pay on their purchases and sales of Shares.

Annual Fund Operating Expenses (expenses that you pay each year as a percentage of the value of your investment)
Management Fees
[ ]%
Distribution and/or Service (Rule 12b-1) Fees
None
Other Expenses1
[ ]%
Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses
[ ]%
   
1 Estimated for the current fiscal year.
Expense Example
This example is intended to help you compare the cost of investing in the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then redeem all of your Shares at the end of those periods. The example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions your costs would be:

1 Year: $[  ]
3 Years: $[  ]
Portfolio Turnover
The Fund pays transaction costs, such as commissions, when it buys and sells securities (or “turns over” its portfolio). A higher portfolio turnover rate may indicate higher transaction costs and may result in higher taxes when Shares are held in a taxable account. These costs, which are not reflected in annual fund operating expenses or in the example, affect the Fund’s performance. Because the Fund is newly organized, portfolio turnover information is not yet available.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund uses a “passive management” (or indexing) approach to track the total return performance, before fees and expenses, of the Index. The Index is a rules-based, equal-weighted index that is designed to provide exposure to the constituents of the S&P Developed BMI Ex-U.S. & Korea LargeMidcap Index (the “BMI Index”) that exhibit both high dividend yield and sustainable dividend distribution characteristics, while maintaining diversified sector exposure. The Index was developed in [  ] by S&P Dow Jones Indices, a division of S&P Global.
S&P Developed Ex-U.S. Dividend and Free Cash Flow Yield Index
The Index is designed to provide exposure to a subset of the constituents of the BMI Index. The BMI Index is a comprehensive benchmark including stocks from developed markets excluding the United States. The BMI Index includes equity securities that are listed in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (collectively, the “Developed ex-U.S. Markets”).
Construction of the Index begins with the universe of equity securities that are included in the BMI Index, have a minimum float-adjusted market capitalization of US$1 billion, and have a median daily traded value of at least US$5 million. For each equity security in the BMI Index, the security’s dividend yield and free-cash-flow yield (i.e., a company’s cash flow from operations less capital expenditures divided by its market capitalization) are then adjusted to account for outliers. If a security’s dividend yield or free-cash-flow yield is in the top or bottom 2.5% of the BMI Index, the dividend yield or free-cash-flow yield, as applicable, for such security is replaced with the dividend yield or free-cash-flow yield of the security nearest to such top or bottom 2.5% threshold. The universe is then screened to keep only equity securities with a positive realized dividend yield (i.e., yield based on the total dividends paid for the most recent 12-month period) and free-cash-flow yield. The remaining securities are referred to as the “Selection Pool”.
For each security in the Selection Pool, the security’s dividend yield or free-cash-flow yield are then scored using a statistical normalization model (i.e., a tool to compare how close each yield is to the average yield for the Selection Pool) to assign a dividend yield score and free-cash-flow yield score from zero to one for each company. The equity securities in the Selection Pool are then ranked by the product of their dividend yield score and free-cash-flow yield score, and the top five scoring securities are selected from each sector (collectively, the “Index Constituents”). The Index uses Standard & Poor’s Global Industry Classification Standards to define companies within one of the following sectors: consumer discretionary, consumer staples, energy, financials, health care, industrials, information technology, materials, real estate, telecommunication services, and utilities. Fewer than five securities may be selected if there are fewer than five securities in the Selection Pool for a given sector. At the time of each reconstitution of the Index, up to 25% of the Index’s weight (i.e., 13 stocks) may be from any individual country.
The Index is reconstituted (i.e., Index Constituents are added or deleted and weights are reset to equal-weight) semi-annually after the close of the third business day in January and July. At the time of each reconstitution of the Index, Index Constituents are added or deleted based on company data as of the last business day of December and June, respectively, and the Index Constituents are equally-weighted based on closing prices as of five business days prior to the last business day of the reconstitution month. If an Index Constituent is removed from the BMI Index, such security will simultaneously be removed from the Index. Additions to the Index Constituents only take place during the semi-annual reconstitutions. If multiple share classes of a single company qualify for inclusion in the Index, only the share class with the highest liquidity, measured by median daily value traded, is selected. As of [  ], 2018, the Index included significant exposure to companies in the [group of industries] and in [countries].
The Fund’s Investment Strategy
The Fund attempts to invest all, or substantially all, of its assets in the component securities that make up the Index. Under normal circumstances, at least 80% of the Fund’s total assets (exclusive of any collateral held from securities lending) will be invested in the component securities of the Index and depositary receipts representing Index components. The Fund’s investment adviser expects that, over time, the correlation between the Fund’s performance and that of the Index, before fees and expenses, will be 95% or better.
The Fund will generally use a “replication” strategy to achieve its investment objective, meaning the Fund generally will invest in all of the component securities of the Index in approximately the same proportions as in the Index. However, the Fund may use a “representative sampling” strategy, meaning it may invest in a sample of the securities in the Index whose risk, return, and other characteristics closely resemble the risk, return, and other characteristics of the Index as a whole, when the Fund’s sub-adviser believes it is in the best interests of the Fund (e.g., when replicating the Index involves practical difficulties or substantial costs, an Index constituent becomes temporarily illiquid, unavailable, or less liquid, or as a result of legal restrictions or limitations that apply to the Fund but not to the Index).
The Fund generally may invest up to 20% of its total assets (exclusive of any collateral held from securities lending) in securities or other investments not included in the Index, but which the Fund’s sub-adviser believes will help the Fund track the Index. For example, the Fund may invest in securities that are not components of the Index to reflect various corporate actions and other changes to the Index (such as reconstitutions, additions, and deletions).
To the extent the Index concentrates (i.e., holds more than 25% of its total assets) in the securities of a particular industry or group of related industries, the Fund will concentrate its investments to approximately the same extent as the Index.
Principal Investment Risks
The principal risks of investing in the Fund are summarized below. As with any investment, there is a risk that you could lose all or a portion of your investment in the Fund. The following risks could affect the value of your investment in the Fund:
·
Currency Exchange Rate Risk. The Fund invests primarily in investments denominated in non-U.S. currencies or in securities that provide exposure to such currencies. Changes in currency exchange rates and the relative value of non-U.S. currencies will affect the value of the Fund’s investment and the value of your Shares. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the value of an investment in the Fund may change quickly and without warning and you may lose money.
·
Depositary Receipt Risk. Depositary Receipts involve risks similar to those associated with investments in foreign securities, such as changes in political or economic conditions of other countries and changes in the exchange rates of foreign currencies. Depositary Receipts listed on U.S. exchanges are issued by banks or trust companies, and entitle the holder to all dividends and capital gains that are paid out on the underlying foreign shares (“Underlying Shares”). When the Fund invests in Depositary Receipts as a substitute for an investment directly in the Underlying Shares, the Fund is exposed to the risk that the Depositary Receipts may not provide a return that corresponds precisely with that of the Underlying Shares.
·
Equity Market Risk. The equity securities held in the Fund’s portfolio may experience sudden, unpredictable drops in value or long periods of decline in value. This may occur because of factors that affect securities markets generally or factors affecting specific issuers, industries, sectors or companies in which the Fund invests. Common stocks are generally exposed to greater risk than other types of securities, such as preferred stocks and debt obligations, because common stockholders generally have inferior rights to receive payment from issuers.
·
ETF Risks. The Fund is an ETF, and, as a result of an ETF’s structure, it is exposed to the following risks:
 
o
Authorized Participants, Market Makers, and Liquidity Providers Concentration Risk. The Fund has a limited number of financial institutions that may act as Authorized Participants (“APs”). In addition, there may be a limited number of market makers and/or liquidity providers in the marketplace. To the extent either of the following events occur, Shares may trade at a material discount to NAV and possibly face delisting: (i) APs exit the business or otherwise become unable to process creation and/or redemption orders and no other APs step forward to perform these services, or (ii) market makers and/or liquidity providers exit the business or significantly reduce their business activities and no other entities step forward to perform their functions.
 
 
o
Costs of Buying or Selling Shares. Due to the costs of buying or selling Shares, including brokerage commissions imposed by brokers and bid/ask spreads, frequent trading of Shares may significantly reduce investment results and an investment in Shares may not be advisable for investors who anticipate regularly making small investments.
 
 
o
Shares May Trade at Prices Other Than NAV. As with all ETFs, Shares may be bought and sold in the secondary market at market prices. Although it is expected that the market price of Shares will approximate the Fund’s NAV, there may be times when the market price of Shares is more than the NAV intra-day (premium) or less than the NAV intra-day (discount) due to supply and demand of Shares or during periods of market volatility. This risk is heightened in times of market volatility, periods of steep market declines, and periods when there is limited trading activity for Shares in the secondary market, in which case such premiums or discounts may be significant. Because securities held by the Fund may trade on foreign exchanges that are closed when the Fund’s primary listing exchange is open, the Fund is likely to experience premiums and discounts greater than those of domestic ETFs.
 
 
o
Trading. Although Shares are listed for trading on the NYSE Arca, Inc. (the “Exchange”) and may be traded on U.S. exchanges other than the Exchange, there can be no assurance that Shares will trade with any volume, or at all, on any stock exchange. In stressed market conditions, the liquidity of Shares may begin to mirror the liquidity of the Fund’s underlying portfolio holdings, which can be significantly less liquid than Shares.

·
Foreign Securities Risk. Investments in non-U.S. securities involve certain risks that may not be present with investments in U.S. securities. For example, investments in non-U.S. securities may be subject to risk of loss due to foreign currency fluctuations or to political or economic instability. Investments in non-U.S. securities also may be subject to withholding or other taxes and may be subject to additional trading, settlement, custodial, and operational risks. These and other factors can make investments in the Fund more volatile and potentially less liquid than other types of investments.
·
Geographic Investment Risk. To the extent the Fund invests a significant portion of its assets in the securities of companies of a single country or region, it is more likely to be impacted by events or conditions affecting that country or region.
·
High Dividend Investing Risk. Companies with a high yield or payout ratio may reduce their dividend or stop paying dividends entirely while they are included in the Index. Such events could lower the price or yield of such company’s equity securities. Additionally, equity securities with a high yield or payout ratio may underperform other securities in certain market conditions.
 
·
Market Risk. The trading prices of equity securities and other instruments fluctuate in response to a variety of factors. The Fund’s net asset value (“NAV”) and market price may fluctuate significantly in response to these and other factors. As a result, an investor could lose money over short or long periods of time.
·
New Fund Risk. The Fund is a recently organized, diversified management investment company with no operating history. As a result, prospective investors have a limited track record on which to base their investment decision.
·
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund is not actively managed and its sub-adviser would not sell shares of an equity security due to current or projected underperformance of a security, industry or sector, unless that security is removed from the Index or the selling of shares of that security is otherwise required upon a rebalancing of the Index as addressed in the Index methodology.
·
Smaller Companies Risk. The equity securities of smaller companies have historically been subject to greater investment risk than securities of larger companies. The prices of equity securities of smaller companies tend to be more volatile and less liquid than the prices of equity securities of larger companies.
·
Tracking Error Risk. As with all index funds, the performance of the Fund and its Index may differ from each other for a variety of reasons. For example, the Fund incurs operating expenses and portfolio transaction costs not incurred by the Index. In addition, the Fund may not be fully invested in the securities of the Index at all times or may hold securities not included in the Index.
 
Performance
Performance information for the Fund is not included because the Fund did not have a full calendar year of performance prior to the date of this Prospectus. In the future, performance information for the Fund will be presented in this section. Updated performance information is available on the Fund’s website at https://www.aamlive.com/ETF or by calling the Fund toll free at 1-800-617-0004.
Portfolio Management
Adviser
Advisors Asset Management, Inc. (“AAM” or the “Adviser”)
Sub-Adviser
Vident Investment Advisory, LLC (“VIA” or the “Sub-Adviser”)
Portfolio Managers
Denise M. Krisko, CFA, President of VIA, and Habib Moudachirou, FRM, Senior Portfolio Manager of VIA, have been portfolio managers of the Fund since its inception in 2018.
 
Purchase and Sale of Shares
Shares are listed on a national securities exchange, such as the NYSE Arca, Inc. (the “Exchange”), and most investors will buy and sell Shares through brokers at market prices, rather than NAV. Because Shares trade at market prices rather than NAV, Shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (premium) or less than NAV (discount).

The Fund issues and redeems Shares at NAV only in large blocks known as “Creation Units,” which only Authorized Participants (“APs”) (typically, broker-dealers) may purchase or redeem. Creation Units generally consist of 50,000 Shares, though this may change from time to time. The Fund generally issues and redeems Creation Units in exchange for a portfolio of securities closely approximating the holdings of the Fund (the “Deposit Securities”) and/or a designated amount of U.S. cash.
Tax Information
Fund distributions are generally taxable as ordinary income, qualified dividend income, or capital gains (or a combination), unless your investment is in an individual retirement account (“IRA”) or other tax-advantaged account. Distributions on investments made through tax-deferred arrangements may be taxed later upon withdrawal of assets from those accounts.
Financial Intermediary Compensation
If you purchase Shares through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank) (an “Intermediary”), the Fund’s investment adviser, sub-adviser, or their affiliates may pay Intermediaries for certain activities related to the Fund, including participation in activities that are designed to make Intermediaries more knowledgeable about exchange traded products, including the Fund, or for other activities, such as marketing, educational training or other initiatives related to the sale or promotion of Shares. These payments may create a conflict of interest by influencing the Intermediary and your salesperson to recommend the Fund over another investment. Any such arrangements do not result in increased Fund expenses. Ask your salesperson or visit the Intermediary’s website for more information.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE INDEX
The Adviser has licensed the Index for use by the Fund from S&P Opco, LLC, the Fund’s index provider and a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a division of S&P Global. The Index is calculated by an independent third party calculation agent that is not affiliated with the Fund, Adviser, Sub-Adviser, distributor, or any of their affiliates

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE FUND
Investment Objective
The Fund’s investment objective has been adopted as a non-fundamental investment policy and may be changed without shareholder approval upon written notice to shareholders.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund has adopted the following policies to comply with Rule 35d-1 under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act”). Such policies have been adopted as non-fundamental investment policies and may be changed without shareholder approval upon 60 days’ written notice to shareholders. With respect to the policies below, the Fund defines “equity securities” to mean common and preferred stocks, rights, warrants, depositary receipts, equity interests in real estate investment trusts (“REITs”), and master limited partnerships.
Under normal circumstances, at least 80% of the Fund’s net assets, plus borrowings for investment purposes, will be invested in equity securities that are (i) are traded principally on an exchange in a Developed ex-U.S. Markets country and  (ii) have had a positive realized annual dividend yield within the past year.
Principal Investment Risks
An investment in the Fund entails risks. The Fund could lose money, or its performance could trail that of other investment alternatives. The following provides additional information about the Fund’s principal risks. It is important that investors closely review and understand these risks before making an investment in the Fund.
·
Currency Exchange Rate Risk. Changes in currency exchange rates and the relative value of non-U.S. currencies will affect the value of the Fund’s investments and the value of your Shares. Because the Fund’s NAV is determined on the basis of U.S. dollars, the U.S. dollar value of your investment in the Fund may go down if the value of the local currency of the non-U.S. markets in which the Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar. This is true even if the local currency value of securities in the Fund’s holdings goes up. Conversely, the dollar value of your investment in the Fund may go up if the value of the local currency appreciates against the U.S. dollar. The value of the U.S. dollar measured against other currencies is influenced by a variety of factors. These factors include: national debt levels and trade deficits, changes in balances of payments and trade, domestic and foreign interest and inflation rates, global or regional political, economic or financial events, monetary policies of governments, actual or potential government intervention, and global energy prices. Political instability, the possibility of government intervention and restrictive or opaque business and investment policies may also reduce the value of a country’s currency. Government monetary policies and the buying or selling of currency by a country’s government may also influence exchange rates. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the value of an investment in the Fund may change quickly and without warning, and you may lose money.
·
Depositary Receipt Risk. The Fund may hold the securities of non-U.S. companies in the form of American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”) and Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”). ADRs are negotiable certificates issued by a U.S. financial institution that represent a specified number of shares in a foreign stock and trade on a U.S. national securities exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”). Sponsored ADRs are issued with the support of the issuer of the foreign stock underlying the ADRs and carry all of the rights of common shares, including voting rights. GDRs are similar to ADRs, but may be issued in bearer form and are typically offered for sale globally and held by a foreign branch of an international bank. The underlying issuers of certain depositary receipts, particularly unsponsored or unregistered depositary receipts, are under no obligation to distribute shareholder communications to the holders of such receipts, or to pass through to them any voting rights with respect to the deposited securities. Issuers of unsponsored depositary receipts are not contractually obligated to disclose material information in the U.S. and, therefore, such information may not correlate to the market value of the unsponsored depositary receipt. The underlying securities of the ADRs and GDRs in the Fund’s portfolio are usually denominated or quoted in currencies other than the U.S. Dollar. As a result, changes in foreign currency exchange rates may affect the value of the Fund’s portfolio. In addition, because the underlying securities of ADRs and GDRs trade on foreign exchanges at times when the U.S. markets are not open for trading, the value of the securities underlying the ADRs and GDRs may change materially at times when the U.S. markets are not open for trading, regardless of whether there is an active U.S. market for Shares.
·
Equity Market Risk. Common stocks are susceptible to general stock market fluctuations and to volatile increases and decreases in value as market confidence in and perceptions of their issuers change. These investor perceptions are based on various and unpredictable factors including: expectations regarding government, economic, monetary and fiscal policies; inflation and interest rates; economic expansion or contraction; and global or regional political, economic and banking crises. If you held common stock, or common stock equivalents, of any given issuer, you would generally be exposed to greater risk than if you held preferred stocks and debt obligations of the issuer because common stockholders, or holders of equivalent interests, generally have inferior rights to receive payments from issuers in comparison with the rights of preferred stockholders, bondholders, and other creditors of such issuers.
 
·
ETF Risks. The Fund is an ETF, and, as a result of an ETF’s structure, it is exposed to the following risks:
o
Authorized Participants, Market Makers, and Liquidity Providers Concentration Risk. The Fund has a limited number of financial institutions that may act as APs. In addition, there may be a limited number of market makers and/or liquidity providers in the marketplace. To the extent either of the following events occur, Shares may trade at a material discount to NAV and possibly face delisting: (i) APs exit the business or otherwise become unable to process creation and/or redemption orders and no other APs step forward to perform these services, or (ii) market makers and/or liquidity providers exit the business or significantly reduce their business activities and no other entities step forward to perform their functions.
o
Costs of Buying or Selling Shares. Investors buying or selling Shares in the secondary market will pay brokerage commissions or other charges imposed by brokers, as determined by that broker. Brokerage commissions are often a fixed amount and may be a significant proportional cost for investors seeking to buy or sell relatively small amounts of Shares. In addition, secondary market investors will also incur the cost of the difference between the price at which an investor is willing to buy Shares (the “bid” price) and the price at which an investor is willing to sell Shares (the “ask” price). This difference in bid and ask prices is often referred to as the “spread” or “bid/ask spread.” The bid/ask spread varies over time for Shares based on trading volume and market liquidity, and is generally lower if Shares have more trading volume and market liquidity and higher if Shares have little trading volume and market liquidity. Further, a relatively small investor base in the Fund, asset swings in the Fund and/or increased market volatility may cause increased bid/ask spreads. Due to the costs of buying or selling Shares, including bid/ask spreads, frequent trading of Shares may significantly reduce investment results and an investment in Shares may not be advisable for investors who anticipate regularly making small investments.
o
Shares May Trade at Prices Other Than NAV. As with all ETFs, Shares may be bought and sold in the secondary market at market prices. Although it is expected that the market price of Shares will approximate the Fund’s NAV, there may be times when the market price of Shares is more than the NAV intra-day (premium) or less than the NAV intra-day (discount) due to supply and demand of Shares or during periods of market volatility. This risk is heightened in times of market volatility, periods of steep market declines, and periods when there is limited trading activity for Shares in the secondary market, in which case such premiums or discounts may be significant.
o
Trading. Although Shares are listed for trading on the Exchange and may be listed or traded on U.S. and non-U.S. stock exchanges other than the Exchange, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such Shares will develop or be maintained. Trading in Shares may be halted due to market conditions or for reasons that, in the view of the Exchange, make trading in Shares inadvisable. In addition, trading in Shares on the Exchange is subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to Exchange “circuit breaker” rules, which temporarily halt trading on the Exchange when a decline in the S&P 500 Index during a single day reaches certain thresholds (e.g., 7%, 13%, and 20%). Additional rules applicable to the Exchange may halt trading in Shares when extraordinary volatility causes sudden, significant swings in the market price of Shares. There can be no assurance that Shares will trade with any volume, or at all, on any stock exchange. In stressed market conditions, the liquidity of Shares may begin to mirror the liquidity of the Fund’s underlying portfolio holdings, which can be significantly less liquid than Shares.
·
Foreign Securities Risk. Investments in non-U.S. securities involve certain risks that may not be present with investments in U.S. securities. For example, investments in non-U.S. securities may be subject to risk of loss due to foreign currency fluctuations or to political or economic instability. There may be less information publicly available about a non-U.S. issuer than a U.S. issuer. Non-U.S. issuers may be subject to different accounting, auditing, financial reporting and investor protection standards than U.S. issuers. Investments in non-U.S. securities may be subject to withholding or other taxes and may be subject to additional trading, settlement, custodial, and operational risks. With respect to certain countries, there is the possibility of government intervention and expropriation or nationalization of assets. Because legal systems differ, there is also the possibility that it will be difficult to obtain or enforce legal judgments in certain countries. Since foreign exchanges may be open on days when the Fund does not price its shares, the value of the securities in the Fund’s portfolio may change on days when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s shares. Conversely, Shares may trade on days when foreign exchanges are close. Each of these factors can make investments in the Fund more volatile and potentially less liquid than other types of investments.
·
Geographic Investment Risk. To the extent that the Fund’s Index invests a significant portion of its assets in the securities of companies of a single country or region, it is more likely to be impacted by events or conditions affecting that country or region. For example, political and economic conditions and changes in regulatory, tax, or economic policy in a country could significantly affect the market in that country and in surrounding or related countries and have a negative impact on the Fund’s performance. Currency developments or restrictions, political and social instability, and changing economic conditions have resulted in significant market volatility.
·
High Dividend Investing Risk. Companies with a high yield or payout ratio may reduce their dividend or stop paying dividends entirely while they are included in the Index. Such events could lower the price or yield of such company’s equity securities. Additionally, equity securities with a high yield or payout ratio may underperform other securities in certain market conditions.
8

 
·
Market Capitalization Risk
o
Large-Capitalization Investing. The securities of large-capitalization companies may be relatively mature compared to smaller companies and therefore subject to slower growth during times of economic expansion. Large-capitalization companies may also be unable to respond quickly to new competitive challenges, such as changes in technology and consumer tastes.
o
Mid-Capitalization Investing. The securities of mid-capitalization companies may be more vulnerable to adverse issuer, market, political, or economic developments than securities of large-capitalization companies. The securities of mid-capitalization companies generally trade in lower volumes and are subject to greater and more unpredictable price changes than large capitalization stocks or the stock market as a whole. Some mid-capitalization companies have limited product lines, markets, financial resources, and management personnel and tend to concentrate on fewer geographical markets relative to large-capitalization companies.
·
Market Risk. The trading prices of debt securities and other instruments fluctuate in response to a variety of factors. These factors include events impacting the entire market or specific market segments, such as political, market and economic developments, as well as events that impact specific issuers. The Fund’s NAV and market price, like security and commodity prices generally, may fluctuate significantly in response to these and other factors. As a result, an investor could lose money over short or long periods of time.
·
New Fund Risk. The Fund is a recently organized, diversified management investment company with no operating history. As a result, prospective investors have a limited track record on which to base their investment decision.
·
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund invests in the securities included in, or representative of, its Index regardless of its investment merit. The Fund does not attempt to outperform its respective Index or take defensive positions in declining markets. As a result, the Fund’s performance may be adversely affected by a general decline in the market segments relating to its Index. The returns from the types of securities in which the Fund invests may underperform returns from the various general securities markets or different asset classes. This may cause the Fund to underperform other investment vehicles that invest in different asset classes. Different types of securities (for example, large-, mid- and small-capitalization stocks) tend to go through cycles of doing better – or worse – than the general securities markets. In the past, these periods have lasted for as long as several years.
·
Tracking Error Risk. As with all index funds, the performance of the Fund and the Index may differ from each other for a variety of reasons. For example, the Fund incurs operating expenses and portfolio transaction costs not incurred by the Index. In addition, the Fund may not be fully invested in the securities of the Index at all times or may hold securities not included in the Index. The use of sampling techniques may affect the Fund’s ability to achieve close correlation with the Index. The Fund may use a representative sampling strategy to achieve its investment objective, if the Fund’s sub-adviser believes it is in the best interest of the Fund, which generally can be expected to produce a greater non-correlation risk.
 
PORTFOLIO HOLDINGS INFORMATION
Information about the Fund’s daily portfolio holdings is available at https://www.aamlive.com/ETF. A complete description of the Fund’s policies and procedures with respect to the disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio holdings is available in the Fund’s Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”).

MANAGEMENT
Investment Adviser
AAM serves as the investment adviser and has overall responsibility for the general management and administration of the Fund. AAM also arranges for sub-advisory, transfer agency, custody, fund administration, distribution and all other services necessary for the Fund to operate. AAM provides oversight of the Sub-Adviser, defined below, monitoring of the Sub-Adviser’s buying and selling of securities for the Fund, and review of the Sub-Adviser’s performance. For the services it provides to the Fund, the Fund pays AAM a unified management fee, which is calculated daily and paid monthly, at an annual rate based on the Fund’s average daily net assets as set forth in the table below.
Name of Fund
Management Fee
AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF
[  ]%
Under the Investment Advisory Agreement (the “Advisory Agreement”), AAM has agreed to pay all expenses of the Fund, except for: the fee paid to AAM pursuant to the Advisory Agreement, interest charges on any borrowings, dividends, and other expenses on securities sold short, taxes, brokerage commissions and other expenses incurred in placing orders for the purchase and sale of securities and other investment instruments, acquired fund fees and expenses, accrued deferred tax liability, extraordinary expenses, and distribution (12b-1) fees and expenses. AAM, in turn, compensates the Sub-Adviser from the management fee it receives.
AAM shall not be liable to the Trust or any shareholder for anything done or omitted by it, except acts or omissions arising out of the Adviser’s willful misfeasance, bad faith, or gross negligence in the performance of its duties under the Advisory Agreement or its reckless disregard of its obligations and duties under the Advisory Agreement or for any losses that may be sustained in the purchase, holding, or sale of any security.
AAM’s headquarters is located at 18925 Base Camp Road, Suite 203, Monument, Colorado 80132. AAM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AAM Holdings, Inc., which is primarily owned by current and former employees of AAM and affiliated entities. AAM is a registered broker dealer, member FINRA and SIPC, and SEC registered investment adviser. AAM provides portfolio supervisory and evaluation services to AAM-sponsored unit investment trusts registered under the 1940 Act and provides investment advisory services to separately managed accounts, mutual funds, and the Fund.
The basis for the Board’s approval of the Advisory Agreement will be available in the Fund’s first [Semi-] Annual Report to Shareholders for the period ending [        ], [2018].
Sub-Adviser
The Adviser has retained Vident Investment Advisory, LLC to serve as sub-adviser for the Fund. VIA is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. VIA, a registered investment adviser, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vident Financial, LLC. Its principal office is located at 300 Colonial Center Parkway, Suite 330, Roswell, Georgia 30076. VIA was formed in 2014 and provides investment advisory services to ETFs, including the Fund. The Sub-Adviser is responsible for trading portfolio securities for the Fund, including selecting broker-dealers to execute purchase and sale transactions or in connection with any rebalancing or reconstitution of the Index, subject to the supervision of the Adviser and the Board. For its services, the Sub-Adviser is paid a fee by the Adviser, which fee is calculated daily and paid monthly, at an annual rate based on the average daily net assets of the Fund, and subject to a minimum annual fee as follows:
Name of Fund
Sub-Advisory Fee
Minimum Annual Fee
AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF
[  ]
$[  ]
The basis for the Board’s approval of the Sub-Advisory Agreement will be available in the Fund’s first [Semi-] Annual Report to Shareholders for the period ending [         ], [2018].
Manager of Managers Structure
The Fund and the Adviser have received exemptive relief from the SEC permitting the Adviser (subject to certain conditions and the Board’s approval) to change or select new sub-advisers without obtaining shareholder approval. The relief also permits the Adviser to materially amend the terms of agreements with a sub-adviser (including an increase in the fee paid by the Adviser to the sub-adviser (and not paid by the Fund)) or to continue the employment of a sub-adviser after an event that would otherwise cause the automatic termination of services with Board approval, but without shareholder approval. Shareholders will be notified of any sub-adviser changes.
Portfolio Managers
The below individuals are the Fund’s Portfolio Managers and are jointly and primarily responsible for day-to-day management of the Fund’s portfolio.
Ms. Krisko became the President of VIA in November 2014 and has over nineteen years of investment management experience. Ms. Krisko was previously the Chief Investment Officer at Index Management Solutions, LLC (“IMS”). Prior to joining IMS, she was a Managing Director and Co-Head of the Equity Index Management and Head of East Coast Equity Index Strategies for Mellon Capital Management. She was also a Managing Director of The Bank of New York and Head of Equity Index Strategies for BNY Investment Advisors from August 2005 until the merger of The Bank of New York with Mellon Bank in 2007, when she assumed her role with Mellon Capital Management. Ms. Krisko attained the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 2000. Ms. Krisko graduated with a BS from Pennsylvania State University and obtained her MBA from Villanova University.
Mr. Moudachirou became a Senior Portfolio Manager at Vident in 2018 and has over 17 years of experience that includes portfolio management in both active and strategic beta indexation internationally. Prior to joining Vident, he served as an Executive Director and Portfolio Manager at J.P. Morgan, where he was responsible for building and managing smart beta and alternative risk premia strategies; employing cost-effective and liquid replacement solutions for hedge fund exposure; and utilizing risk factor investing. From January 2012 to September 2015, he was a Portfolio Manager at Emerging Global Advisors, where he was responsible for managing smart beta emerging market focused ETFs. Mr. Moudachirou is also an Adjunct Professor at the New York University School of Professional Studies. He holds a B.S. in Physics from Pierre and Marie Curie University as well as an M.S. in Quantitative Finance from the University of Rennes, France. Additionally, Mr. Moudachirou has an M.S.E. in Statistics from the French National School of Statistics University and Information Analysis, ENSAI. He also holds the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designation.
The Fund’s SAI provides additional information about the Portfolio Managers’ compensation structure, other accounts managed by the Portfolio Managers, and the Portfolio Managers’ ownership of Shares.

HOW TO BUY AND SELL SHARES
The Fund issues and redeems Shares at NAV only in Creation Units. Only APs may acquire Shares directly from the Fund, and only APs may tender their Shares for redemption directly to the Fund, at NAV. APs must be (i) a broker-dealer or other participant in the clearing process through the Continuous Net Settlement System of the NSCC, a clearing agency that is registered with the SEC; or (ii) a DTC participant (as discussed below). In addition, each AP must execute a Participant Agreement that has been agreed to by the Distributor, and that has been accepted by the Transfer Agent, with respect to purchases and redemptions of Creation Units. Once created, Shares trade in the secondary market in quantities less than a Creation Unit.
Most investors buy and sell Shares in secondary market transactions through brokers. Shares are listed for trading on the secondary market on the Exchange and can be bought and sold throughout the trading day like other publicly traded securities.
When buying or selling Shares through a broker, you will incur customary brokerage commissions and charges, and you may pay some or all of the spread between the bid and the offer price in the secondary market on each leg of a round trip (purchase and sale) transaction. In addition, because secondary market transactions occur at market prices, you may pay more than NAV when you buy Shares, and receive less than NAV when you sell those Shares.
Book Entry
Shares are held in book-entry form, which means that no stock certificates are issued. The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) or its nominee is the record owner of all outstanding Shares.
Investors owning Shares are beneficial owners as shown on the records of DTC or its participants. DTC serves as the securities depository for all Shares. DTC’s participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and other institutions that directly or indirectly maintain a custodial relationship with DTC. As a beneficial owner of Shares, you are not entitled to receive physical delivery of stock certificates or to have Shares registered in your name, and you are not considered a registered owner of Shares. Therefore, to exercise any right as an owner of Shares, you must rely upon the procedures of DTC and its participants. These procedures are the same as those that apply to any other securities that you hold in book entry or “street name” through your brokerage account.
Share Trading Prices on the Exchange
Trading prices of Shares on the Exchange may differ from the Fund’s daily NAV. Market forces of supply and demand, economic conditions and other factors may affect the trading prices of Shares. To provide additional information regarding the indicative value of Shares, the Exchange or a market data vendor disseminates information every 15 seconds through the facilities of the Consolidated Tape Association, or other widely disseminated means, an updated “intraday indicative value” (“IIV”) for Shares as calculated by an information provider or market data vendor. The Fund is not involved in or responsible for any aspect of the calculation or dissemination of the IIVs and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the IIVs. If the calculation of the IIV is based on the basket of Deposit Securities and/or a designated amount of U.S. cash, such IIV may not represent the best possible valuation of the Fund’s portfolio because the basket of Deposit Securities does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current Fund portfolio at a particular point in time and does not include a reduction for the fees, operating expenses, or transaction costs incurred by the Fund. The IIV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the Fund’s NAV because the IIV may not be calculated in the same manner as the NAV, which is computed only once a day, typically at the end of the business day. The IIV is generally determined by using both current market quotations and/or price quotations obtained from broker-dealers that may trade in the Deposit Securities.
Frequent Purchases and Redemptions of Shares
The Fund imposes no restrictions on the frequency of purchases and redemptions of Shares. In determining not to approve a written, established policy, the Board evaluated the risks of market timing activities by Fund shareholders. Purchases and redemptions by APs, who are the only parties that may purchase or redeem Shares directly with the Fund, are an essential part of the ETF process and help keep Share trading prices in line with NAV. As such, the Fund accommodates frequent purchases and redemptions by APs. However, the Board has also determined that frequent purchases and redemptions for cash may increase tracking error and portfolio transaction costs and may lead to the realization of capital gains. To minimize these potential consequences of frequent purchases and redemptions, the Fund employs fair value pricing and may impose transaction fees on purchases and redemptions of Creation Units to cover the custodial and other costs incurred by the Fund in effecting trades. In addition, the Fund and the Adviser reserve the right to reject any purchase order at any time.
Determination of Net Asset Value
The Fund’s NAV is calculated as of the scheduled close of regular trading on the NYSE, generally 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, each day the NYSE is open for business. The NAV is calculated by dividing the Fund’s net assets by its Shares outstanding.
In calculating its NAV, the Fund generally values its assets on the basis of market quotations, last sale prices, or estimates of value furnished by a pricing service or brokers who make markets in such instruments. The values of non-U.S. dollar denominated securities are converted to U.S. dollars using foreign currency exchange rates generally determined as of 4:00 p.m., London time. If such information is not available for a security held by the Fund or is determined to be unreliable, the security will be valued at fair value estimates under guidelines established by the Board (as described below).
Fair Value Pricing
The Board has adopted procedures and methodologies to fair value Fund securities whose market prices are not “readily available” or are deemed to be unreliable. For example, such circumstances may arise when: (i) a security has been de-listed or has had its trading halted or suspended; (ii) a security’s primary pricing source is unable or unwilling to provide a price; (iii) a security’s primary trading market is closed during regular market hours; or (iv) a security’s value is materially affected by events occurring after the close of the security’s primary trading market. Generally, when fair valuing a security, the Fund will take into account all reasonably available information that may be relevant to a particular valuation including, but not limited to, fundamental analytical data regarding the issuer, information relating to the issuer’s business, recent trades or offers of the security, general and/or specific market conditions and the specific facts giving rise to the need to fair value the security. Fair value determinations are made in good faith and in accordance with the fair value methodologies included in the Board-adopted valuation procedures. Due to the subjective and variable nature of fair value pricing, there can be no assurance that the Adviser or Sub-Adviser will be able to obtain the fair value assigned to the security upon the sale of such security.
Delivery of Shareholder Documents – Householding
Householding is an option available to certain investors of the Fund. Householding is a method of delivery, based on the preference of the individual investor, in which a single copy of certain shareholder documents can be delivered to investors who share the same address, even if their accounts are registered under different names. Householding for the Fund is available through certain broker- dealers. If you are interested in enrolling in householding and receiving a single copy of the prospectus and other shareholder documents, please contact your broker-dealer. If you are currently enrolled in householding and wish to change your householding status, please contact your broker-dealer.
Investments by Registered Investment Companies
Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act restricts investments by registered investment companies in the securities of other investment companies, including Shares. Registered investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund beyond the limits set forth in section 12(d)(1), subject to certain terms and conditions set forth in an SEC exemptive order issued to the Trust, including that such investment companies enter into an agreement with the Fund.

DIVIDENDS, DISTRIBUTIONS, AND TAXES
Dividends and Distributions
The Fund intends to pay out dividends, if any, and distribute any net realized capital gains to its shareholders at least annually. The Fund will declare and pay capital gain distributions, if any, in cash. Distributions in cash may be reinvested automatically in additional whole Shares only if the broker through whom you purchased Shares makes such option available. Your broker is responsible for distributing the income and capital gain distributions to you.
Taxes
The following discussion is a summary of some important U.S. federal income tax considerations generally applicable to investments in the Fund. Your investment in the Fund may have other tax implications. Please consult your tax advisor about the tax consequences of an investment in Shares, including the possible application of foreign, state, and local tax laws.
The Fund intends to qualify each year for treatment as a regulated investment company (a “RIC”). If it meets certain minimum distribution requirements, a RIC is not subject to tax at the fund level on income and gains from investments that are timely distributed to shareholders. However, the Fund’s failure to qualify as a RIC or to meet minimum distribution requirements would result (if certain relief provisions were not available) in fund-level taxation and, consequently, a reduction in income available for distribution to shareholders.
Unless your investment in Shares is made through a tax-exempt entity or tax-advantaged account, such as an IRA plan, you need to be aware of the possible tax consequences when the Fund makes distributions, when you sell your Shares listed on the Exchange, and when you purchase or redeem Creation Units (institutional investors only).
The recently enacted tax legislation commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) makes significant changes to the U.S. federal income tax rules for taxation of individuals and corporations, generally effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017. Many of the changes applicable to individuals are temporary and would apply only to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2026. There are only minor changes with respect to the specific rules only applicable to RICs, such as the Fund. The Tax Act, however, makes numerous other changes to the tax rules that may affect shareholders and the Fund. You are urged to consult with your own tax advisor regarding how the Tax Act affects your investment in the Fund.
Taxes on Distributions
The Fund intends to distribute, at least annually, substantially all of its net investment income and net capital gains. For federal income tax purposes, distributions of investment income are generally taxable as ordinary income or qualified dividend income. A portion of dividends received from the Fund (but none of the Fund’s capital gain distributions) may qualify for the dividends-received deduction for corporations. Taxes on distributions of capital gains (if any) are determined by how long the Fund owned the investments that generated them, rather than how long a shareholder has owned his or her Shares. Sales of assets held by the Fund for more than one year generally result in long-term capital gains and losses, and sales of assets held by the Fund for one year or less generally result in short-term capital gains and losses. Distributions of the Fund’s net capital gain (the excess of net long-term capital gains over net short-term capital losses) that are reported by the Fund as capital gain dividends (“Capital Gain Dividends”) will be taxable as long-term capital gains, which for non-corporate shareholders are subject to tax at reduced rates of up to 20% (lower rates apply to individuals in lower tax brackets). Distributions of short-term capital gain will generally be taxable as ordinary income. Dividends and distributions are generally taxable to you whether you receive them in cash or reinvest them in additional shares.
Distributions reported by the Fund as “qualified dividend income” are generally taxed to non-corporate shareholders at rates applicable to long-term capital gains, provided holding period and other requirements are met. “Qualified dividend income” generally is income derived from dividends paid by U.S. corporations or certain foreign corporations that are either incorporated in a U.S. possession or eligible for tax benefits under certain U.S. income tax treaties. In addition, dividends that the Fund receives in respect of stock of certain foreign corporations may be qualified dividend income if that stock is readily tradable on an established U.S. securities market. Corporate shareholders may be entitled to a dividends-received deduction for the portion of dividends they receive from the Fund that are attributable to dividends received by the Fund from U.S. corporations, subject to certain limitations. Since the Fund invests primarily in securities of non-U.S. issuers, it is not expected that a significant portion of the dividends received from the Fund will qualify for the dividends-received deduction for corporations.
Shortly after the close of each calendar year, you will be informed of the character of any distributions received from the Fund.
U.S. individuals with income exceeding specified thresholds are subject to a 3.8% Medicare contribution tax on all or a portion of their “net investment income,” which includes interest, dividends, and certain capital gains (generally including capital gains distributions and capital gains realized on the sale of Shares). This 3.8% tax also applies to all or a portion of the undistributed net investment income of certain shareholders that are estates and trusts.
In general, your distributions are subject to federal income tax for the year in which they are paid. Certain distributions paid in January, however, may be treated as paid on December 31 of the prior year. Distributions are generally taxable even if they are paid from income or gains earned by the Fund before your investment (and thus were included in the Shares’ NAV when you purchased your Shares).
You may wish to avoid investing in the Fund shortly before a dividend or other distribution, because such a distribution will generally be taxable even though it may economically represent a return of a portion of your investment.
If you are neither a resident nor a citizen of the United States or if you are a foreign entity, distributions (other than Capital Gain Dividends) paid to you by the Fund will generally be subject to a U.S. withholding tax at the rate of 30%, unless a lower treaty rate applies. The Fund may, under certain circumstances, report all or a portion of a dividend as an “interest-related dividend” or a “short- term capital gain dividend,” which would generally be exempt from this 30% U.S. withholding tax, provided certain other requirements are met.
Under legislation generally known as “FATCA” (the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), the Fund is required to withhold 30% of certain ordinary dividends it pays, and, after December 31, 2018, 30% of the gross proceeds of share redemptions and certain capital gain dividends it pays, to shareholders that are foreign entities and that fail to meet prescribed information reporting or certification requirements.
The Fund (or a financial intermediary, such as a broker, through which a shareholder owns Shares) generally is required to withhold and remit to the U.S. Treasury a percentage of the taxable distributions and sale or redemption proceeds paid to any shareholder who fails to properly furnish a correct taxpayer identification number, who has underreported dividend or interest income, or who fails to certify that he, she or it is not subject to such withholding.
Taxes When Shares are Sold on the Exchange
Any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Shares generally is treated as a long-term capital gain or loss if Shares have been held for more than one year and as a short-term capital gain or loss if Shares have been held for one year or less. However, any capital loss on a sale of Shares held for six months or less is treated as long-term capital loss to the extent of Capital Gain Dividends paid with respect to such Shares. The ability to deduct capital losses may be limited.
Taxes on Purchases and Redemptions of Creation Units
An AP having the U.S. dollar as its functional currency for U.S. federal income tax purposes who exchanges securities for Creation Units generally recognizes a gain or a loss. The gain or loss will be equal to the difference between the value of the Creation Units at the time of the exchange and the exchanging AP’s aggregate basis in the securities delivered, plus the amount of any cash paid for the Creation Units. An AP who exchanges Creation Units for securities will generally recognize a gain or loss equal to the difference between the exchanging AP’s basis in the Creation Units and the aggregate U.S. dollar market value of the securities received, plus any cash received for such Creation Units. The Internal Revenue Service may assert, however, that a loss that is realized upon an exchange of securities for Creation Units may not be currently deducted under the rules governing “wash sales” (for an AP who does not mark-to-market its holdings) or on the basis that there has been no significant change in economic position. Persons exchanging securities should consult their own tax advisor with respect to whether wash sale rules apply and when a loss might be deductible.
Any capital gain or loss realized upon redemption of Creation Units is generally treated as long-term capital gain or loss if Shares have been held for more than one year and as a short-term capital gain or loss if Shares have been held for one year or less.
Foreign Investments by the Fund
Interest and other income received by the Fund with respect to foreign securities may give rise to withholding and other taxes imposed by foreign countries. Tax conventions between certain countries and the United States may reduce or eliminate such taxes. If as of the close of a taxable year more than 50% of the value of the Fund’s assets consists of certain foreign stock or securities, the Fund will be eligible to elect to “pass through” to investors the amount of foreign income and similar taxes (including withholding taxes) paid by the Fund during that taxable year. This means that investors would be considered to have received as additional income their respective shares of such foreign taxes, but may be entitled to either a corresponding tax deduction in calculating taxable income, or, subject to certain limitations, a credit in calculating federal income tax. If the Fund does not so elect, it will be entitled to claim a deduction for certain foreign taxes incurred by the Fund. The Fund (or its administrative agent) will notify you if it makes such an election and provide you with the information necessary to reflect foreign taxes paid on your income tax return.
The foregoing discussion summarizes some of the possible consequences under current federal tax law of an investment in the Fund. It is not a substitute for personal tax advice. You also may be subject to state and local tax on Fund distributions and sales of Shares. Consult your personal tax advisor about the potential tax consequences of an investment in Shares under all applicable tax laws. For more information, please see the section entitled “Federal Income Taxes” in the SAI.

DISTRIBUTION
The Distributor, Quasar Distributors, LLC, is a broker-dealer registered with the SEC. The Distributor distributes Creation Units for the Fund on an agency basis and does not maintain a secondary market in Shares. The Distributor has no role in determining the policies of the Fund or the securities that are purchased or sold by the Fund. The Distributor’s principal address is 777 East Wisconsin Avenue, 6th Floor, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202.
The Board has adopted a Distribution and Service Plan (the “Plan”) pursuant to Rule 12b-1 under the 1940 Act. In accordance with the Plan, the Fund is authorized to pay an amount up to 0.25% of its average daily net assets each year for certain distribution-related activities and shareholder services.
No Rule 12b-1 fees are currently paid by the Fund, and there are no plans to impose these fees. However, in the event Rule 12b-1 fees are charged in the future, because the fees are paid out of Fund assets, over time these fees will increase the cost of your investment and may cost you more than certain other types of sales charges.

PREMIUM/DISCOUNT INFORMATION
The Fund is new and therefore does not have any information regarding how often Shares are traded on the Exchange at a price above (i.e., at a premium) or below (i.e., at a discount) the NAV of the Fund.

ADDITIONAL NOTICES
Shares are not sponsored, endorsed, or promoted by the Exchange. The Exchange makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of Shares or any member of the public regarding the ability of the Fund to track the total return performance of its Index or the ability of the Index identified herein to track the performance of its constituent securities. The Exchange is not responsible for, nor has it participated in, the determination of the compilation or the calculation of the Index, nor in the determination of the timing, prices, or quantities of Shares to be issued, nor in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the Shares are redeemable. The Exchange has no obligation or liability to owners of Shares in connection with the administration, marketing, or trading of Shares.
The Exchange does not guarantee the accuracy and/or the completeness of the Index or the data included therein. The Exchange makes no warranty, express or implied, as to results to be obtained by the Fund, owners of Shares, or any other person or entity from the use of the Index or the data included therein. The Exchange makes no express or implied warranties, and hereby expressly disclaims all warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose with respect to the Index or the data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall the Exchange have any liability for any lost profits or indirect, punitive, special, or consequential damages even if notified of the possibility thereof.
The Adviser, the Sub-Adviser, the Exchange, and the Fund make no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of Shares or any member of the public regarding the advisability of investing in securities generally or in the Fund particularly or the ability of the Index to track general stock market performance. The Fund, the Adviser, and the Sub-Adviser do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or performance of the Index or the data included therein and shall have no liability in connection with the Index or Index calculation. The Index Calculation Agent maintains and calculates the Index used by the Fund. The Index Calculation Agent shall have no liability for any errors or omissions in calculating the Index.
The Index is a product of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a division of S&P Global, or its affiliates (“SPDJI”), and has been licensed for use by the Adviser. Standard & Poor’s®, S&P®, and S&P 500® are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC (“S&P”); Dow Jones® is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC (“Dow Jones”); and these trademarks have been licensed for use by SPDJI and sublicensed for certain purposes by the Adviser. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by SPDJI, Dow Jones, S&P, any of their respective affiliates (collectively, “S&P Dow Jones Indices”). S&P Dow Jones Indices makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the advisability of investing in securities generally or in the Fund particularly. Past performance of an index is not an indication or guarantee of future results. S&P Dow Jones Indices’ only relationship to the Adviser with respect to the Index is the licensing of the Index and certain trademarks, service marks and/or trade names of S&P Dow Jones Indices and/or its licensors. The Index is determined, composed and calculated by S&P Dow Jones Indices without regard to the Adviser or the Fund. S&P Dow Jones Indices has no obligation to take the needs of the Adviser or the owners of the Fund into consideration in determining, composing or calculating the Index. S&P Dow Jones Indices is not responsible for and has not participated in the determination of the price, and amount of shares of the Fund or the timing of the issuance or sale of shares of the Fund or in the determination or calculation of the equation by which shares of the Fund are to be converted into cash, surrendered or redeemed, as the case may be. S&P Dow Jones Indices has no obligation or liability in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the Fund. There is no assurance that investment products based on the Index will accurately track index performance or provide positive investment returns. S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC is not an investment or tax advisor. A tax advisor should be consulted to evaluate the impact of any tax-exempt securities on portfolios and the tax consequences of making any particular investment decision. Inclusion of a security within an index is not a recommendation by S&P Dow Jones Indices to buy, sell, or hold such security, nor is it considered to be investment advice.
S&P DOW JONES INDICES DOES NOT GUARANTEE THE ADEQUACY, ACCURACY, TIMELINESS AND/OR THE COMPLETENESS OF THE INDEX OR ANY DATA RELATED THERETO OR ANY COMMUNICATION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ORAL OR WRITTEN COMMUNICATION (INCLUDING ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS) WITH RESPECT THERETO. S&P DOW JONES INDICES SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO ANY DAMAGES OR LIABILITY FOR ANY ERRORS, OMISSIONS, OR DELAYS THEREIN. S&P DOW JONES INDICES MAKES NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE OR AS TO RESULTS TO BE OBTAINED BY THE ADVISER, OWNERS OF THE FUND, OR ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY FROM THE USE OF THE INDEX OR WITH RESPECT TO ANY DATA RELATED THERETO. WITHOUT LIMITING ANY OF THE FOREGOING, IN NO EVENT WHATSOEVER SHALL S&P DOW JONES INDICES BE LIABLE FOR ANY INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOSS OF PROFITS, TRADING LOSSES, LOST TIME OR GOODWILL, EVEN IF THEY HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR OTHERWISE. THERE ARE NO THIRD PARTY BENEFICIARIES OF ANY AGREEMENTS OR ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN S&P DOW JONES INDICES AND THE ADVISER, OTHER THAN THE LICENSORS OF S&P DOW JONES INDICES.

FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS
Financial information is not available because the Fund had not commenced operations prior to the date of this Prospectus.

AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF

Adviser
Advisors Asset Management, Inc.
18925 Base Camp Road, Suite 203
Monument, Colorado 80132
Transfer Agent,
Index Receipt
Agent, and
Administrator
U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, LLC
615 East Michigan Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
Index Provider
S&P Opco, LLC
c/o S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC
55 Water Street
New York, New York 10041
Sub-Adviser
Vident Investment Advisory, LLC
300 Colonial Center Parkway
Suite 330
Roswell, GA 30076
Custodian
U.S. Bank National Association
1555 N. Rivercenter Drive
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53212
Distributor
Quasar Distributors, LLC
777 East Wisconsin Avenue, 6th Floor
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
Independent
Registered Public
Accounting Firm
[ ]
 
Legal Counsel
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
1111 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004-2541

Investors may find more information about the Fund in the following documents:
Statement of Additional Information: The Fund’s SAI provides additional details about the investments of the Fund and certain other additional information. A current SAI dated [  ] is on file with the SEC and is herein incorporated by reference into this Prospectus. It is legally considered a part of this Prospectus.
Annual/Semi-Annual Reports: Additional information about the Fund’s investments will be available in the Fund’s annual and semi-annual reports to shareholders. In the annual report, when available, you will find a discussion of the market conditions and investment strategies that significantly affected the Fund’s performance after the first fiscal year the Fund is in operation.
You can obtain free copies of these documents, request other information or make general inquiries about the Fund by contacting the Fund at c/o U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, LLC, P.O. Box 701, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-0701 or by calling 1-800-617-0004.
You may review and copy information including the Fund’s reports, when available, and SAI at the Public Reference Room of the SEC, 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549-1520. You may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling (202) 551-8090. Shareholder reports and other information about the Fund are also available:
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Free of charge from the SEC’s EDGAR database on the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov; or
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Free of charge from the Fund’s Internet web site at https://www.aamlive.com/ETF; or
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For a fee, by writing to the Public Reference Room of the SEC, Washington, DC 20549-1520; or
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For a fee, by e-mail request to publicinfo@sec.gov.
(SEC Investment Company Act File No. 811-22668)
 
AAM S&P Developed Markets HIGH DIVIDEND VALUE ETF (DMDV)
a series of ETF Series Solutions
Listed on NYSE Arca, Inc.
STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

[ ], 2018

This Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) is not a prospectus and should be read in conjunction with the prospectus dated [ ], 2018, as may be supplemented from time to time (the “Prospectus”), of the AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF (the “Fund”), a series of ETF Series Solutions (the “Trust”). Capitalized terms used in this SAI that are not defined have the same meaning as in the Prospectus, unless otherwise noted. A copy of the Prospectus may be obtained without charge, by calling the Fund at 1‑800‑617‑0004, visiting https://www.aamlive.com/ETF, or writing to the Fund, c/o U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, LLC (“USBFS”), P.O. Box 701, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-0701.

THE INFORMATION HEREIN IS NOT COMPLETE AND MAY BE CHANGED. WE MAY NOT SELL THESE SECURITIES UNTIL THE REGISTRATION STATEMENT FILED WITH THE U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION IS EFFECTIVE. THIS SAI IS NOT AN OFFER TO SELL THESE SECURITIES AND IS NOT SOLICITING AN OFFER TO BUY THESE SECURITIES IN ANY JURISDICTION IN WHICH THE OFFER OR SALE IS NOT PERMITTED.

The Fund’s audited financial statements for the most recent fiscal year (when available) are incorporated into this SAI by reference to the Fund’s most recent Annual Report to Shareholders (File No. 811-22668). When available, you may obtain a copy of the Fund’s Annual Report at no charge by contacting the Fund at the address or phone number noted above.

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General Information About The Trust
The Trust is an open-end management investment company consisting of multiple investment series. This SAI relates to the Fund. The Trust was organized as a Delaware statutory trust on February 9, 2012. The Trust is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (together with the rules and regulations adopted thereunder, as amended, the “1940 Act”), as an open-end management investment company, and the offering of the Fund’s shares (“Shares”) is registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”). The Trust is governed by its Board of Trustees (the “Board”).
Advisors Asset Management, Inc. (“AAM” or the “Adviser”) serves as the Fund’s investment adviser, and Vident Investment Advisory, LLC (“VIA” or the “Sub-Adviser”) serves as sub-adviser to the Fund’s. The investment objective of the Fund is to seek investment results that, before fees and expenses, track the performance of a rules-based index, as described in the Prospectus (the “Index”).
The Fund offers and issues Shares at their net asset value (“NAV”) only in aggregations of a specified number of Shares (each, a “Creation Unit”). The Fund generally offers and issues Shares in exchange for a basket of securities included in its Index (“Deposit Securities”) together with the deposit of a specified cash payment (“Cash Component”). The Trust reserves the right to permit or require the substitution of a “cash in lieu” amount (“Deposit Cash”) to be added to the Cash Component to replace any Deposit Security or other instrument in the Fund’s portfolio. Shares are or will be listed on the NYSE Arca, Inc. (the “Exchange”) and trade on the Exchange at market prices that may differ from the Shares’ NAV. Shares are also redeemable only in Creation Unit aggregations, primarily for a basket of Deposit Securities together with a Cash Component. A Creation Unit of the Fund generally consists of 50,000 Shares, though this may change from time to time. Creation Units are not expected to consist of fewer than 25,000 Shares. As a practical matter, only institutions or large investors purchase or redeem Creation Units. Except when aggregated in Creation Units, Shares are not redeemable securities.
Shares may be issued in advance of receipt of Deposit Securities subject to various conditions, including a requirement to maintain on deposit with the Trust cash at least equal to a specified percentage of the value of the missing Deposit Securities, as set forth in the Participant Agreement (as defined below). The Trust may impose a transaction fee for each creation or redemption. In all cases, such fees will be limited in accordance with the requirements of the SEC applicable to management investment companies offering redeemable securities. As in the case of other publicly traded securities, brokers’ commissions on transactions in the secondary market will be based on negotiated commission rates at customary levels.
Additional Information About Investment Objectives, Policies, And Related Risks
The Fund’s investment objective and principal investment strategies are described in the Prospectus. The following information supplements, and should be read in conjunction with, the Prospectus. For a description of certain permitted investments, see “Description of Permitted Investments” in this SAI.
With respect to the Fund’s investments, unless otherwise noted, if a percentage limitation on investment is adhered to at the time of investment or contract, a subsequent increase or decrease as a result of market movement or redemption will not result in a violation of such investment limitation.
Diversification
The Fund is “diversified” within the meaning of the 1940 Act. Under applicable federal laws, to qualify as a diversified fund, the Fund, with respect to 75% of its total assets, may not invest greater than 5% of its total assets in any one issuer and may not hold greater than 10% of the securities of one issuer, other than cash and cash items (including receivables), U.S. government securities, and securities of other investment companies. The remaining 25% of the Fund’s total assets does not need to be “diversified” and may be invested in securities of a single issuer, subject to other applicable laws. The diversification of the Fund’s holdings is measured at the time the Fund purchases a security. However, if the Fund purchases a security and holds it for a period of time, the security may become a larger percentage of the Fund’s total assets due to movements in the financial markets. If the market affects several securities held by the Fund, the Fund may have a greater percentage of its assets invested in securities of a single issuer or a small number of issuers.
General Risks
The value of the Fund’s portfolio securities may fluctuate with changes in the financial condition of an issuer or counterparty, changes in specific economic or political conditions that affect a particular security or issuer and changes in general economic or political conditions. An investor in the Fund could lose money over short or long periods of time.
There can be no guarantee that a liquid market for the securities held by the Fund will be maintained. The existence of a liquid trading market for certain securities may depend on whether dealers will make a market in such securities. There can be no assurance that a market will be made or maintained or that any such market will be or remain liquid. The price at which securities may be sold and the value of Shares will be adversely affected if trading markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities are limited or absent, or if bid/ask spreads are wide.
Financial markets, both domestic and foreign, have experienced an usually high degree of volatility as recently as the beginning of 2018. Continuing market turbulence may have an adverse effect on Fund performance.
Cyber Security Risk. Investment companies, such as the Fund, and their service providers may be subject to operational and information security risks resulting from cyber attacks. Cyber attacks include, among other behaviors, stealing or corrupting data maintained online or digitally, denial of service attacks on websites, the unauthorized release of confidential information or various other forms of cyber security breaches. Cyber attacks affecting the Fund or the Adviser, Sub-Adviser, custodian, transfer agent, intermediaries and other third- party service providers may adversely impact the Fund. For instance, cyber attacks may interfere with the processing of shareholder transactions, impact the Fund’s ability to calculate its NAV, cause the release of private shareholder information or confidential company information, impede trading, subject the Fund to regulatory fines or financial losses, and cause reputational damage. The Fund may also incur additional costs for cyber security risk management purposes. Similar types of cyber security risks are also present for issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers, and may cause the Fund’s investments in such portfolio companies to lose value.
Description of Permitted Investments
The following are descriptions of the Fund’s permitted investments and investment practices and the associated risk factors. The Fund will only invest in any of the following instruments or engage in any of the following investment practices if such investment or activity is consistent with the Fund’s investment objective and permitted by the Fund’s stated investment policies.
Borrowing
Although the Fund does not intend to borrow money, the Fund may do so to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act. Under the 1940 Act, the Fund may borrow up to one-third (1/3) of its total assets. The Fund will borrow money only for short-term or emergency purposes. Such borrowing is not for investment purposes and will be repaid by the Fund promptly. Borrowing will tend to exaggerate the effect on NAV of any increase or decrease in the market value of the Fund’s portfolio. Money borrowed will be subject to interest costs that may or may not be recovered by earnings on the securities purchased. The Fund also may be required to maintain minimum average balances in connection with a borrowing or to pay a commitment or other fee to maintain a line of credit; either of these requirements would increase the cost of borrowing over the stated interest rate.
Depositary Receipts
To the extent the Fund invests in stocks of foreign corporations, the Fund’s investment in securities of foreign companies may be in the form of depositary receipts or other securities convertible into securities of foreign issuers. American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”) are dollar-denominated receipts representing interests in the securities of a foreign issuer, which securities may not necessarily be denominated in the same currency as the securities into which they may be converted. ADRs are receipts typically issued by U.S. banks and trust companies which evidence ownership of underlying securities issued by a foreign corporation. Generally, ADRs in registered form are designed for use in domestic securities markets and are traded on exchanges or over-the-counter in the United States.
Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”), European Depositary Receipts (“EDRs”), and International Depositary Receipts (“IDRs”) are similar to ADRs in that they are certificates evidencing ownership of shares of a foreign issuer; however, GDRs, EDRs, and IDRs may be issued in bearer form and denominated in other currencies and are generally designed for use in specific or multiple securities markets outside the U.S. EDRs, for example, are designed for use in European securities markets, while GDRs are designed for use throughout the world. Depositary receipts will not necessarily be denominated in the same currency as their underlying securities.
The Fund will not invest in any unlisted Depositary Receipts or any Depositary Receipt that the Adviser or Sub-Adviser deems to be illiquid or for which pricing information is not readily available. In addition, all Depositary Receipts generally must be sponsored. However, the Fund may invest in unsponsored Depositary Receipts under certain limited circumstances. The issuers of unsponsored Depositary Receipts are not obligated to disclose material information in the United States and, therefore, there may be less information available regarding such issuers and there may not be a correlation between such information and the value of the Depositary Receipts. The use of a Depositary Receipt may increase tracking error relative to the applicable Index if the Index includes the foreign security instead of the Depositary Receipt.
Equity Securities
Equity securities, such as the common stocks of an issuer, are subject to stock market fluctuations and therefore may experience volatile changes in value as market conditions, consumer sentiment or the financial condition of the issuers change. A decrease in value of the equity securities in the Fund’s portfolio may also cause the value of the Fund’s Shares to decline.
An investment in the Fund should be made with an understanding of the risks inherent in an investment in equity securities, including the risk that the financial condition of issuers may become impaired or that the general condition of the stock market may deteriorate (either of which may cause a decrease in the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities and therefore a decrease in the value of Shares). Common stocks are susceptible to general stock market fluctuations and to volatile increases and decreases in value as market confidence and perceptions change. These investor perceptions are based on various and unpredictable factors, including expectations regarding government, economic, monetary and fiscal policies; inflation and interest rates; economic expansion or contraction; and global or regional political, economic or banking crises.
Holders of common stocks incur more risk than holders of preferred stocks and debt obligations because common stockholders, as owners of the issuer, generally have inferior rights to receive payments from the issuer in comparison with the rights of creditors or holders of debt obligations or preferred stocks. Further, unlike debt securities, which typically have a stated principal amount payable at maturity (whose value, however, is subject to market fluctuations prior thereto), or preferred stocks, which typically have a liquidation preference and which may have stated optional or mandatory redemption provisions, common stocks have neither a fixed principal amount nor a maturity. Common stock values are subject to market fluctuations as long as the common stock remains outstanding.
 
When-Issued Securities: A when-issued security is one whose terms are available and for which a market exists, but which has not been issued. When the Fund engages in when-issued transactions, it relies on the other party to consummate the sale. If the other party fails to complete the sale, the Fund may miss the opportunity to obtain the security at a favorable price or yield.
When purchasing a security on a when-issued basis, the Fund assumes the rights and risks of ownership of the security, including the risk of price and yield changes. At the time of settlement, the value of the security may be more or less than the purchase price. The yield available in the market when the delivery takes place also may be higher than those obtained in the transaction itself. Because the Fund does not pay for the security until the delivery date, these risks are in addition to the risks associated with its other investments.
Decisions to enter into “when-issued” transactions will be considered on a case-by-case basis when necessary to maintain continuity in a company’s index membership. The Fund will segregate cash or liquid securities equal in value to commitments for the when-issued transactions. The Fund will segregate additional liquid assets daily so that the value of such assets is equal to the amount of the commitments.
Types of Equity Securities:
Common Stocks — Common stocks represent units of ownership in a company. Common stocks usually carry voting rights and earn dividends. Unlike preferred stocks, which are described below, dividends on common stocks are not fixed but are declared at the discretion of the company’s board of directors.
Preferred Stocks — Preferred stocks are also units of ownership in a company. Preferred stocks normally have preference over common stock in the payment of dividends and the liquidation of the company. However, in all other respects, preferred stocks are subordinated to the liabilities of the issuer. Unlike common stocks, preferred stocks are generally not entitled to vote on corporate matters. Types of preferred stocks include adjustable-rate preferred stock, fixed dividend preferred stock, perpetual preferred stock, and sinking fund preferred stock.
Generally, the market values of preferred stock with a fixed dividend rate and no conversion element vary inversely with interest rates and perceived credit risk.
Rights and Warrants — A right is a privilege granted to existing shareholders of a corporation to subscribe to shares of a new issue of common stock before it is issued. Rights normally have a short life of usually two to four weeks, are freely transferable and entitle the holder to buy the new common stock at a lower price than the public offering price. Warrants are securities that are usually issued together with a debt security or preferred stock and that give the holder the right to buy proportionate amount of common stock at a specified price. Warrants are freely transferable and are traded on major exchanges. Unlike rights, warrants normally have a life that is measured in years and entitles the holder to buy common stock of a company at a price that is usually higher than the market price at the time the warrant is issued. Corporations often issue warrants to make the accompanying debt security more attractive.
An investment in warrants and rights may entail greater risks than certain other types of investments. Generally, rights and warrants do not carry the right to receive dividends or exercise voting rights with respect to the underlying securities, and they do not represent any rights in the assets of the issuer. In addition, their value does not necessarily change with the value of the underlying securities, and they cease to have value if they are not exercised on or before their expiration date. Investing in rights and warrants increases the potential profit or loss to be realized from the investment as compared with investing the same amount in the underlying securities.
Smaller-Sized Companies. Investors in smaller-sized companies typically take on greater risk and price volatility than they would by investing in larger, more established companies. This increased risk may be due to the greater business risks of their smaller size, limited markets and financial resources, narrow product lines and frequent lack of management depth. The securities of smaller-sized companies are often traded in the over-the-counter market and might not be traded in volumes typical of securities traded on a national securities exchange. Thus, the securities of smaller capitalization companies are likely to be less liquid, and subject to more abrupt or erratic market movements, than securities of larger, more established companies.
Tracking Stocks. The Fund may invest in tracking stocks. A tracking stock is a separate class of common stock whose value is linked to a specific business unit or operating division within a larger company and which is designed to “track” the performance of such business unit or division. The tracking stock may pay dividends to shareholders independent of the parent company. The parent company, rather than the business unit or division, generally is the issuer of tracking stock. However, holders of the tracking stock may not have the same rights as holders of the company’s common stock.
Illiquid Securities
The Fund may invest up to an aggregate amount of 15% of its net assets in illiquid securities. Illiquid securities include securities subject to contractual or other restrictions on resale and other instruments that lack readily available markets. The inability of the Fund to dispose of illiquid or not readily marketable investments readily or at a reasonable price could impair the Fund’s ability to raise cash for redemptions or other purposes. The liquidity of securities purchased by the Fund which is eligible for resale pursuant to Rule 144A, except for certain 144A bonds, will be monitored by the Fund on an ongoing basis. In the event that such a security is deemed to be no longer liquid, the Fund’s holdings will be reviewed to determine what action, if any, is required to ensure that the retention of such security does not result in the Fund having more than 15% of its net assets invested in illiquid or not readily marketable securities.
Investment Company Securities
The Fund may invest in the securities of other investment companies, including ETFs and money market funds, subject to applicable limitations under Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act. Investing in another pooled vehicle exposes the Fund to all the risks of that pooled vehicle. Pursuant to Section 12(d)(1), the Fund may invest in the securities of another investment company (the “acquired company”) provided that the Fund, immediately after such purchase or acquisition, does not own in the aggregate: (i) more than 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of the acquired company; (ii) securities issued by the acquired company having an aggregate value in excess of 5% of the value of the total assets of the Fund; or (iii) securities issued by the acquired company and all other investment companies (other than treasury stock of the Fund) having an aggregate value in excess of 10% of the value of the total assets of the Fund. To the extent allowed by law or regulation, the Fund may invest its assets in securities of investment companies that are money market funds in excess of the limits discussed above.
If the Fund invests in and, thus, is a shareholder of, another investment company, the Fund’s shareholders will indirectly bear the Fund’s proportionate share of the fees and expenses paid by such other investment company, including advisory fees, in addition to both the management fees payable directly by the Fund to the Fund’s own investment adviser and the other expenses that the Fund bears directly in connection with the Fund’s own operations.
Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act restricts investments by registered investment companies in securities of other registered investment companies, including the Fund. The acquisition of Shares by registered investment companies is subject to the restrictions of Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act, except as may be permitted by exemptive rules under the 1940 Act or as may at some future time be permitted by an exemptive order that permits registered investment companies to invest in the Fund beyond the limits of Section 12(d)(1), subject to certain terms and conditions, including that the registered investment company enter into an agreement with the Fund regarding the terms of the investment.
The Fund may rely on Section 12(d)(1)(F) and Rule 12d1-3 of the 1940 Act, which provide an exemption from Section 12(d)(1) that allows the Fund to invest all of its assets in other registered funds, including ETFs, if, among other conditions: (a) the Fund, together with its affiliates, acquires no more than three percent of the outstanding voting stock of any acquired fund, and (b) the sales load charged on the Fund’s Shares is no greater than the limits set forth in Rule 2830 of the Conduct Rules of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”). Additionally, the Fund may rely on exemptive relief issued by the SEC to other registered funds, including ETFs, to invest in such other funds in excess of the limits of Section 12(d)(1) if the Fund complies with the terms and conditions of such exemptive relief.
Non-U.S. Securities
The Fund may invest in non-U.S. equity securities. Investments in non-U.S. equity securities involve certain risks that may not be present in investments in U.S. securities. For example, non-U.S. securities may be subject to currency risks or to foreign government taxes. There may be less information publicly available about a non-U.S. issuer than about a U.S. issuer, and a foreign issuer may or may not be subject to uniform accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards and practices comparable to those in the U.S. Other risks of investing in such securities include political or economic instability in the country involved, the difficulty of predicting international trade patterns and the possibility of imposition of exchange controls. The prices of such securities may be more volatile than those of domestic securities. With respect to certain foreign countries, there is a possibility of expropriation of assets or nationalization, imposition of withholding taxes on dividend or interest payments, difficulty in obtaining and enforcing judgments against foreign entities or diplomatic developments which could affect investment in these countries. Losses and other expenses may be incurred in converting between various currencies in connection with purchases and sales of foreign securities. Since foreign exchanges may be open on days when the Fund does not price their Shares, the value of the securities in the Fund’s portfolio may change on days when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s Shares. Conversely, Shares may trade on days when foreign exchanges are closed. Each of these factors can make investments in the Fund more volatile and potentially less liquid than other types of investments.
Set forth below for certain markets in which the Fund may invest are brief descriptions of some of the conditions and risks in each such market.
Investments in Hong Kong. Investments directly in or in ADRs with underlying shares organized, listed, or domiciled in Hong Kong are subject to certain risks not associated with other investments. Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China by the Communist Party in 1949, the Chinese government renounced various debt obligations incurred by China’s predecessor governments, which obligations remain in default, and expropriated assets without compensation. There can be no assurance that the Chinese government will not take similar action in the future. Investments in Hong Kong involve risk of a total loss due to government action or inaction. China has committed by treaty to preserve Hong Kong’s autonomy and its economic, political and social freedoms for 50 years from the July 1, 1997 transfer of sovereignty from Great Britain to China. However, if China would exert its authority so as to alter the economic, political, or legal structures or the existing social policy of Hong Kong, investor and business confidence in Hong Kong could be negatively affected, which in turn could negatively affect markets and business performance. In addition, the Hong Kong dollar trades at a fixed exchange rate in relation to (or, is “pegged” to) the U.S. dollar, which has contributed to the growth and stability of the Hong Kong economy. However, it is uncertain how long the currency peg will continue or what effect the establishment of an alternative exchange rate system would have on the Hong Kong economy. Because the Fund’s NAV is denominated in U.S. dollars, the establishment of an alternative exchange rate system could result in a decline in the Fund’s NAV. These and other factors could have a negative impact on the Fund’s performance.
Investments in Europe. Most developed countries in Western Europe are members of the European Union (“EU”), and many are also members of the European Monetary Union (EMU), which requires compliance with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, and debt levels. Unemployment in certain European nations is historically high and several countries face significant debt problems. These conditions can significantly affect every country in Europe. The euro is the official currency of the EU. Funds that invest in Europe may have significant exposure to the euro and events affecting the euro. Recent market events affecting several of the EU member countries have adversely affected the sovereign debt issued by those countries, and ultimately may lead to a decline in the value of the euro. A significant decline in the value of the euro may produce unpredictable effects on trade and commerce generally and could lead to increased volatility in financial markets worldwide.
In June 2016, the United Kingdom (“UK”) held a referendum resulting in a vote in favor of the exit of the UK from the EU (known as “Brexit”). It is expected that the UK will invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to withdraw from the EU by the end of March 2019; however, there is a significant degree of uncertainty about how negotiations relating to the UK’s withdrawal will be conducted, as well as the potential consequences and precise timeframe for Brexit. On March 29, 2017, the UK initiated the two- year exit process by notifying the European Council of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU. During this period and beyond, the impact on the UK and European economies and the broader global economy could be significant, resulting in negative impacts, such as increased volatility and illiquidity, and potentially lower economic growth of markets in the UK, Europe and globally, which may adversely affect the value of the Fund’s investments. Additionally, depreciation of the British pound sterling and/or the euro in relation to the U.S. dollar in anticipation of Brexit would adversely affect Fund investments denominated in British pound sterling and/or the euro, regardless of the performance of the investment. Also as a result of the referendum, on June 27, 2016, Standard & Poor’s (“S&P”) downgraded the UK’s credit rating from “AAA” to “AA” with a “negative outlook,” and on June 30, 2016, S&P downgraded the EU’s credit rating from “AA+” to “AA”. Other credit ratings agencies have taken similar actions.
Investments in South Korea. Investments in South Korean issuers involve risks that are specific to South Korea, including legal, regulatory, political, currency, security and economic risks. Substantial political tensions exist between North Korea and South Korea and recently these political tensions have escalated. The outbreak of hostilities between the two nations, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities, will likely adversely impact the South Korean economy. In addition, South Korea’s economic growth potential has recently been on a decline, mainly because of a rapidly aging population and structural problems.
Other Short-Term Instruments
The Fund may invest in short-term instruments, including money market instruments, on an ongoing basis to provide liquidity or for other reasons. Money market instruments are generally short-term investments that may include but are not limited to: (i) shares of money market funds; (ii) obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities (including government-sponsored enterprises); (iii) negotiable certificates of deposit (“CDs”), bankers’ acceptances, fixed time deposits and other obligations of U.S. and foreign banks (including foreign branches) and similar institutions; (iv) commercial paper rated at the date of purchase “Prime-1” by Moody’s or “A-1” by S&P or, if unrated, of comparable quality as determined by the Sub-Adviser; (v) non- convertible corporate debt securities (e.g., bonds and debentures) with remaining maturities at the date of purchase of not more than 397 days and that satisfy the rating requirements set forth in Rule 2a-7 under the 1940 Act; and (vi) short-term U.S. dollar-denominated obligations of foreign banks (including U.S. branches) that, in the opinion of the Sub-Adviser, are of comparable quality to obligations of U.S. banks which may be purchased by the Fund. Any of these instruments may be purchased on a current or a forward-settled basis. Money market instruments also include shares of money market funds. Time deposits are non-negotiable deposits maintained in banking institutions for specified periods of time at stated interest rates. Bankers’ acceptances are time drafts drawn on commercial banks by borrowers, usually in connection with international transactions.
Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”)
A REIT is a corporation or business trust (that would otherwise be taxed as a corporation) which meets the definitional requirements of the Code. The Code permits a qualifying REIT to deduct from taxable income the dividends paid, thereby effectively eliminating corporate level federal income tax. To meet the definitional requirements of the Code, a REIT must, among other things: invest substantially all of its assets in interests in real estate (including mortgages and other REITs), cash and government securities; derive most of its income from rents from real property or interest on loans secured by mortgages on real property; and, in general, distribute annually 90% or more of its taxable income (other than net capital gains) to shareholders.
REITs are sometimes informally characterized as Equity REITs and Mortgage REITs. An Equity REIT invests primarily in the fee ownership or leasehold ownership of land and buildings (e.g., commercial equity REITs and residential equity REITs); a Mortgage REIT invests primarily in mortgages on real property, which may secure construction, development or long-term loans.
REITs may be affected by changes in underlying real estate values, which may have an exaggerated effect to the extent that REITs in which the Fund invests may concentrate investments in particular geographic regions or property types. Additionally, rising interest rates may cause investors in REITs to demand a higher annual yield from future distributions, which may in turn decrease market prices for equity securities issued by REITs. Rising interest rates also generally increase the costs of obtaining financing, which could cause the value of the Fund’s investments to decline. During periods of declining interest rates, certain Mortgage REITs may hold mortgages that the mortgagors elect to prepay, which prepayment may diminish the yield on securities issued by such Mortgage REITs. In addition, Mortgage REITs may be affected by the ability of borrowers to repay when due the debt extended by the REIT and Equity REITs may be affected by the ability of tenants to pay rent.
Certain REITs have relatively small market capitalization, which may tend to increase the volatility of the market price of securities issued by such REITs. Furthermore, REITs are dependent upon specialized management skills, have limited diversification and are, therefore, subject to risks inherent in operating and financing a limited number of projects. By investing in REITs indirectly through the Fund, a shareholder will bear not only his or her proportionate share of the expenses of the Fund, but also, indirectly, similar expenses of the REITs. REITs depend generally on their ability to generate cash flow to make distributions to shareholders.
In addition to these risks, Equity REITs may be affected by changes in the value of the underlying property owned by the trusts, while Mortgage REITs may be affected by the quality of any credit extended. Further, Equity and Mortgage REITs are dependent upon management skills and generally may not be diversified. Equity and Mortgage REITs are also subject to heavy cash flow dependency defaults by borrowers and self-liquidation. In addition, Equity and Mortgage REITs could possibly fail to qualify for the favorable U.S. federal income tax treatment generally available to REITs under the Code or fail to maintain their exemptions from registration under the 1940 Act. The above factors may also adversely affect a borrower’s or a lessee’s ability to meet its obligations to the REIT. In the event of default by a borrower or lessee, the REIT may experience delays in enforcing its rights as a mortgagee or lessor and may incur substantial costs associated with protecting its investments.
Repurchase Agreements
The Fund may invest in repurchase agreements with commercial banks, brokers or dealers to generate income from its excess cash balances and to invest securities lending cash collateral. A repurchase agreement is an agreement under which the Fund acquires a financial instrument (e.g., a security issued by the U.S. government or an agency thereof, a banker’s acceptance or a certificate of deposit) from a seller, subject to resale to the seller at an agreed upon price and date (normally, the next Business Day). A repurchase agreement may be considered a loan collateralized by securities. The resale price reflects an agreed upon interest rate effective for the period the instrument is held by the Fund and is unrelated to the interest rate on the underlying instrument.
In these repurchase agreement transactions, the securities acquired by the Fund (including accrued interest earned thereon) must have a total value in excess of the value of the repurchase agreement and are held by the Custodian until repurchased. No more than an aggregate of 15% of the Fund’s net assets will be invested in illiquid securities, including repurchase agreements having maturities longer than seven days and securities subject to legal or contractual restrictions on resale, or for which there are no readily available market quotations.
The use of repurchase agreements involves certain risks. For example, if the other party to the agreement defaults on its obligation to repurchase the underlying security at a time when the value of the security has declined, the Fund may incur a loss upon disposition of the security. If the other party to the agreement becomes insolvent and subject to liquidation or reorganization under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code or other laws, a court may determine that the underlying security is collateral for a loan by the Fund not within the control of the Fund and, therefore, the Fund may not be able to substantiate its interest in the underlying security and may be deemed an unsecured creditor of the other party to the agreement.
Reverse Repurchase Agreements
The Fund may enter into reverse repurchase agreements, which involve the sale of securities held by the Fund subject to its agreement to repurchase the securities at an agreed-upon date or upon demand and at a price reflecting a market rate of interest. Reverse repurchase agreements are subject to the Fund’s limitation on borrowings and may be entered into only with banks or securities dealers or their affiliates. While a reverse repurchase agreement is outstanding, the Fund will maintain the segregation, either on its records or with the Trust’s custodian, of cash or other liquid securities, marked-to-market daily, in an amount at least equal to its obligations under the reverse repurchase agreement.
Reverse repurchase agreements involve the risk that the buyer of the securities sold by the Fund might be unable to deliver them when the Fund seeks to repurchase. If the buyer of securities under a reverse repurchase agreement files for bankruptcy or becomes insolvent, the buyer or trustee or receiver may receive an extension of time to determine whether to enforce the Fund’s obligation to repurchase the securities, and the Fund’s use of the proceeds of the reverse repurchase agreement may effectively be restricted pending such decision.
Securities Lending
The Fund may lend portfolio securities in an amount up to one-third of its total assets to brokers, dealers and other financial institutions. In a portfolio securities lending transaction, the Fund receives from the borrower an amount equal to the interest paid or the dividends declared on the loaned securities during the term of the loan as well as the interest on the collateral securities, less any fees (such as finders or administrative fees) the Fund pays in arranging the loan. The Fund may share the interest it receives on the collateral securities with the borrower. The terms of the Fund’s loans permit it to reacquire loaned securities on five business days’ notice or in time to vote on any important matter. Loans are subject to termination at the option of the Fund or borrower at any time, and the borrowed securities must be returned when the loan is terminated. The Fund may pay fees to arrange for securities loans.
The SEC currently requires that the following conditions must be met whenever the Fund’s portfolio securities are loaned: (1) the Fund must receive at least 100% cash collateral from the borrower; (2) the borrower must increase such collateral whenever the market value of the securities rises above the level of such collateral; (3) the Fund must be able to terminate the loan at any time; (4) the Fund must receive reasonable interest on the loan, as well as any dividends, interest or other distributions on the loaned securities, and any increase in market value; (5) the Fund may pay only reasonable custodian fees approved by the Board in connection with the loan; (6) while voting rights on the loaned securities may pass to the borrower, the Board must terminate the loan and regain the right to vote the securities if a material event adversely affecting the investment occurs, and (7) the Fund may not loan its portfolio securities so that the value of the loaned securities is more than one-third of its total asset value, including collateral received from such loans. These conditions may be subject to future modification. Such loans will be terminable at any time upon specified notice. The Fund might experience the risk of loss if the institution with which it has engaged in a portfolio loan transaction breaches its agreement with the Fund. In addition, the Fund will not enter into any portfolio security lending arrangement having a duration of longer than one year. The principal risk of portfolio lending is potential default or insolvency of the borrower. In either of these cases, the Fund could experience delays in recovering securities or collateral or could lose all or part of the value of the loaned securities. As part of participating in a lending program, the Fund may be required to invest in collateralized debt or other securities that bear the risk of loss of principal. In addition, all investments made with the collateral received are subject to the risks associated with such investments. If such investments lose value, the Fund will have to cover the loss when repaying the collateral.
Any loans of portfolio securities are fully collateralized based on values that are marked-to-market daily. Any securities that the Fund may receive as collateral will not become part of the Fund’s investment portfolio at the time of the loan and, in the event of a default by the borrower, the Fund will, if permitted by law, dispose of such collateral except for such part thereof that is a security in which the Fund is permitted to invest. During the time securities are on loan, the borrower will pay the Fund any accrued income on those securities, and the Fund may invest the cash collateral and earn income or receive an agreed-upon fee from a borrower that has delivered cash-equivalent collateral.
U.S. Government Securities
The Fund may invest in U.S. government securities. Securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities include U.S. Treasury securities, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury and which differ only in their interest rates, maturities, and times of issuance. U.S. Treasury bills have initial maturities of one-year or less; U.S. Treasury notes have initial maturities of one to ten years; and U.S. Treasury bonds generally have initial maturities of greater than ten years. Certain U.S. government securities are issued or guaranteed by agencies or instrumentalities of the U.S. government including, but not limited to, obligations of U.S. government agencies or instrumentalities such as the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”), the Government National Mortgage Association (“Ginnie Mae”), the Small Business Administration, the Federal Farm Credit Administration, the Federal Home Loan Banks, Banks for Cooperatives (including the Central Bank for Cooperatives), the Federal Land Banks, the Federal Intermediate Credit Banks, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Federal Financing Bank, the Student Loan Marketing Association, the National Credit Union Administration and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (Farmer Mac).
Some obligations issued or guaranteed by U.S. government agencies and instrumentalities, including, for example, Ginnie Mae pass- through certificates, are supported by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury. Other obligations issued by or guaranteed by federal agencies, such as those securities issued by Fannie Mae, are supported by the discretionary authority of the U.S. government to purchase certain obligations of the federal agency, while other obligations issued by or guaranteed by federal agencies, such as those of the Federal Home Loan Banks, are supported by the right of the issuer to borrow from the U.S. Treasury, while the U.S. government provides financial support to such U.S. government-sponsored federal agencies, no assurance can be given that the U.S. government will always do so, since the U.S. government is not so obligated by law. U.S. Treasury notes and bonds typically pay coupon interest semi- annually and repay the principal at maturity.
On September 7, 2008, the U.S. Treasury announced a federal takeover of Fannie Mae and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”), placing the two federal instrumentalities in conservatorship. Under the takeover, the U.S. Treasury agreed to acquire $1 billion of senior preferred stock of each instrumentality and obtained warrants for the purchase of common stock of each instrumentality (the “Senior Preferred Stock Purchase Agreement” or “Agreement”). Under the Agreement, the U.S. Treasury pledged to provide up to $200 billion per instrumentality as needed, including the contribution of cash capital to the instrumentalities in the event their liabilities exceed their assets. This was intended to ensure that the instrumentalities maintain a positive net worth and meet their financial obligations, preventing mandatory triggering of receivership. On December 24, 2009, the U.S. Treasury announced that it was amending the Agreement to allow the $200 billion cap on the U.S. Treasury’s funding commitment to increase as necessary to accommodate any cumulative reduction in net worth over the next three years. As a result of this Agreement, the investments of holders, including the Fund, of mortgage-backed securities and other obligations issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are protected.
The total public debt of the United States as a percentage of gross domestic product has grown rapidly since the beginning of the 2008– 2009 financial downturn. Although high debt levels do not necessarily indicate or cause economic problems, they may create certain systemic risks if sound debt management practices are not implemented. A high national debt can raise concerns that the U.S. government will not be able to make principal or interest payments when they are due. This increase has also necessitated the need for the U.S. Congress to negotiate adjustments to the statutory debt limit to increase the cap on the amount the U.S. government is permitted to borrow to meet its existing obligations and finance current budget deficits. In August 2011, S&P lowered its long term sovereign credit rating on the U.S. In explaining the downgrade at that time, S&P cited, among other reasons, controversy over raising the statutory debt limit and growth in public spending. On February 9, 2018, following passage by Congress, the President of the United States signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which suspends the statutory debt limit through March 1, 2019. Any controversy or ongoing uncertainty regarding the statutory debt ceiling negotiations may impact the U.S. long-term sovereign credit rating and may cause market uncertainty. As a result, market prices and yields of securities supported by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government may be adversely affected.
Investment Restrictions
The Trust has adopted the following investment restrictions as fundamental policies with respect to the Fund. These restrictions cannot be changed with respect to the Fund without the approval of the holders of a majority of the Fund’s outstanding voting securities. For the purposes of the 1940 Act, a “majority of outstanding shares” means the vote of the lesser of: (1) 67% or more of the voting securities of the Fund present at the meeting if the holders of more than 50% of the Fund’s outstanding voting securities are present or represented by proxy; or (2) more than 50% of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund.
Except with the approval of a majority of the outstanding voting securities, the Fund may not:
 
1.
Concentrate its investments (i.e., hold more than 25% of its total assets) in any industry or group of related industries, except that the Fund will concentrate to approximately the same extent that the Index concentrates in the securities of such particular industry or group of related industries. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities), repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities, investment companies, and tax-exempt securities of state or municipal governments and their political subdivisions are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
 
2.
Borrow money or issue senior securities (as defined under the 1940 Act), except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act.
 
3.
Make loans, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act.
 
4.
Purchase or sell real estate unless acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act. This shall not prevent the Fund from investing in securities or other instruments backed by real estate, real estate investment trusts or securities of companies engaged in the real estate business.
5.
Purchase or sell physical commodities unless acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act. This shall not prevent the Fund from purchasing or selling options and futures contracts or from investing in securities or other instruments backed by physical commodities.
 
6.
Underwrite securities issued by other persons, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act.
7.
With respect to 75% of its total assets, purchase the securities of any one issuer if, immediately after and as a result of such purchase, (a) the value of the Fund’s holdings in the securities of such issuer exceeds 5% of the value of the Fund’s total assets, or (b) the Fund owns more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of the issuer (with the exception that this restriction does not apply to the Fund’s investments in the securities of the U.S. government, or its agencies or instrumentalities, or other investment companies).
 
In addition to the investment restrictions adopted as fundamental policies as set forth above, the Fund observes the following non- fundamental restrictions, which may be changed without a shareholder vote.
 
1.
The Fund will not hold illiquid assets in excess of 15% of its net assets. An illiquid asset is any asset which may not be sold or disposed of in the ordinary course of business within seven days at approximately the value at which the Fund has valued the investment.
 
2.
The Fund invests, under normal circumstances, at least 80% of its total assets (exclusive of collateral held from securities lending), in the component securities of its underlying Index or in depositary receipts representing Index components.
3.
Under normal circumstances, at least 80% of the net assets, plus borrowings for investment purposes, of the AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF will be invested in equity securities that (i) are traded principally on an exchange in a Developed ex-U.S. Markets country (as defined in the Prospectus) and (ii) have had a positive realized annual dividend yield within the past year.
If a percentage limitation is adhered to at the time of investment or contract, a later increase or decrease in percentage resulting from any change in value or total or net assets will not result in a violation of such restriction, except that the percentage limitations with respect to the borrowing of money and illiquid securities will be observed continuously.
Exchange Listing And Trading
Shares are listed for trading and trade throughout the day on the Exchange.
There can be no assurance that the Fund will continue to meet the requirements of the Exchange necessary to maintain the listing of Shares. The Exchange will consider the suspension of trading in, and will initiate delisting proceedings of, the Shares under any of the following circumstances: (i) if any of the requirements set forth in the Exchange rules are not continuously maintained; (ii) if the Exchange files separate proposals under Section 19(b) of the 1940 Act and any of the statements regarding (a) the index composition; (b) the description of the Fund; (c) limitations on the Fund’s portfolio holdings or reference assets; (d) dissemination and availability of the index or intraday indicative values; or (e) the applicability of the Exchange listing rules specified in such proposals are not continuously maintained; (iii) if following the initial 12-month period beginning at the commencement of trading of the Fund, there are fewer than 50 beneficial owners of the Shares of such Fund; (iv) if the value of the Fund’s underlying index is no longer calculated or available or an interruption to the dissemination persists past the trading day in which it occurred or the underlying index is replaced with a new index, unless the new underlying index meets certain Exchange requirements; (v) if the intraday indicative value is no longer disseminated at least every 15 seconds during the Exchange’s regular market session and the interruption to the dissemination persists past the trading day in which it occurred; or (vi) such other event shall occur or condition shall exist that, in the opinion of the Exchange, makes further dealings on the Exchange inadvisable. The Exchange will remove the Shares from listing and trading upon termination of such Fund.
The Trust reserves the right to adjust the price levels of Shares in the future to help maintain convenient trading ranges for investors. Any adjustments would be accomplished through stock splits or reverse stock splits, which would have no effect on the net assets of the Fund.
To provide additional information regarding the indicative value of Shares, the Exchange or a market data vendor disseminates information every 15 seconds through the facilities of the Consolidated Tape Association, or other widely disseminated means, an updated “intraday indicative value” (“IIV”) for the Fund as calculated by an information provider or market data vendor. The Trust is not involved in or responsible for any aspect of the calculation or dissemination of the IIVs and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the IIVs.
Management Of The Trust
Board Responsibilities. The management and affairs of the Trust and its series are overseen by the Board, which elects the officers of the Trust who are responsible for administering the day-to-day operations of the Trust and the Fund. The Board has approved contracts, as described below, under which certain companies provide essential services to the Trust.
The day-to-day business of the Trust, including the management of risk, is performed by third-party service providers, such as the Adviser, the Sub-Adviser, the Distributor, and the Administrator. The Board is responsible for overseeing the Trust’s service providers and, thus, has oversight responsibility with respect to risk management performed by those service providers. Risk management seeks to identify and address risks, i.e., events or circumstances that could have material adverse effects on the business, operations, shareholder services, investment performance or reputation of the Fund. The Fund and its service providers employ a variety of processes, procedures and controls to identify various of those possible events or circumstances, to lessen the probability of their occurrence and/or to mitigate the effects of such events or circumstances if they do occur. Each service provider is responsible for one or more discrete aspects of the Trust’s business (e.g., the Sub-Adviser is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund’s portfolio investments) and, consequently, for managing the risks associated with that business. The Board has emphasized to the Fund’s service providers the importance of maintaining vigorous risk management.
The Board’s role in risk oversight begins before the inception of the Fund, at which time certain of the Fund’s service providers present the Board with information concerning the investment objectives, strategies and risks of the Fund as well as proposed investment limitations for the Fund. Additionally, the Adviser and Sub-Adviser provide the Board with an overview of, among other things, its investment philosophy, brokerage practices and compliance infrastructure. Thereafter, the Board continues its oversight function as various personnel, including the Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer, as well as personnel of the Sub-Adviser, and other service providers such as the Fund’s independent accountants, make periodic reports to the Audit Committee or to the Board with respect to various aspects of risk management. The Board and the Audit Committee oversee efforts by management and service providers to manage risks to which the Fund may be exposed.
The Board is responsible for overseeing the nature, extent, and quality of the services provided to the Fund by the Adviser and the Sub- Adviser and receives information about those services at its regular meetings. In addition, on an annual basis (following the initial two- year period), in connection with its consideration of whether to renew the Investment Advisory Agreement with the Adviser and Sub- Advisory Agreement with the Sub-Adviser, the Board or its designee may meet with the Adviser and/or Sub-Adviser to review such services. Among other things, the Board regularly considers the Adviser and the Sub-Adviser’s adherence to the Fund’s investment restrictions and compliance with various Fund policies and procedures and with applicable securities regulations. The Board also reviews information about the Fund’s performance and investments, including, for example, portfolio holdings schedules.
The Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer reports regularly to the Board to review and discuss compliance issues and Fund and Adviser or Sub-Adviser risk assessments. At least annually, the Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer, as well as personnel of the Adviser, provides the Board with a report reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of the Trust’s policies and procedures and those of its service providers, including the Adviser and the Sub-Adviser. The report addresses the operation of the policies and procedures of the Trust and each service provider since the date of the last report; any material changes to the policies and procedures since the date of the last report; any recommendations for material changes to the policies and procedures; and any material compliance matters since the date of the last report.
The Board receives reports from the Fund’s service providers regarding operational risks and risks related to the valuation and liquidity of portfolio securities. Annually, the Fund’s independent registered public accounting firm reviews with the Audit Committee its audit of the Fund’s financial statements, focusing on major areas of risk encountered by the Fund and noting any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in the Fund’s internal controls. Additionally, in connection with its oversight function, the Board oversees Fund management’s implementation of disclosure controls and procedures, which are designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by the Trust in its periodic reports with the SEC are recorded, processed, summarized, and reported within the required time periods. The Board also oversees the Trust’s internal controls over financial reporting, which comprise policies and procedures designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of the Trust’s financial reporting and the preparation of the Trust’s financial statements.
From their review of these reports and discussions with the Adviser and Sub-Adviser, the Chief Compliance Officer, independent registered public accounting firm and other service providers, the Board and the Audit Committee learn in detail about the material risks of the Fund, thereby facilitating a dialogue about how management and service providers identify and mitigate those risks.
The Board recognizes that not all risks that may affect the Fund can be identified and/or quantified, that it may not be practical or cost- effective to eliminate or mitigate certain risks, that it may be necessary to bear certain risks (such as investment-related risks) to achieve the Fund’s goals, and that the processes, procedures and controls employed to address certain risks may be limited in their effectiveness. Moreover, reports received by the Board as to risk management matters are typically summaries of the relevant information. Most of the Fund’s investment management and business affairs are carried out by or through the Adviser and Sub-Adviser, and other service providers, each of which has an independent interest in risk management but whose policies and the methods by which one or more risk management functions are carried out may differ from the Fund’s and each other’s in the setting of priorities, the resources available or the effectiveness of relevant controls. As a result of the foregoing and other factors, the Board’s ability to monitor and manage risk, as a practical matter, is subject to limitations.
Members of the Board. There are four members of the Board, three of whom are not interested persons of the Trust, as that term is defined in the 1940 Act (the “Independent Trustees”). Mr. Michael A. Castino serves as Chairman of the Board and is an interested person of the Trust, and Mr. Leonard M. Rush serves as the Trust’s Lead Independent Trustee. As Lead Independent Trustee, Mr. Rush acts as a spokesperson for the Independent Trustees in between meetings of the Board, serves as a liaison for the Independent Trustees with the Trust’s service providers, officers, and legal counsel to discuss ideas informally, and participates in setting the agenda for meetings of the Board and separate meetings or executive sessions of the Independent Trustees.
The Board is comprised of a super-majority (75 percent) of Independent Trustees. There is an Audit Committee of the Board that is chaired by an Independent Trustee and comprised solely of Independent Trustees. The Audit Committee chair presides at the Audit Committee meetings, participates in formulating agendas for Audit Committee meetings, and coordinates with management to serve as a liaison between the Independent Trustees and management on matters within the scope of responsibilities of the Audit Committee as set forth in its Board-approved charter. The Trust has determined its leadership structure is appropriate given the specific characteristics and circumstances of the Trust. The Trust made this determination in consideration of, among other things, the fact that the Independent Trustees of the Trust constitute a super-majority of the Board, the number of Independent Trustees that constitute the Board, the amount of assets under management in the Trust, and the number of funds overseen by the Board. The Board also believes that its leadership structure facilitates the orderly and efficient flow of information to the Independent Trustees from Fund management.
Additional information about each Trustee of the Trust is set forth below. The address of each Trustee of the Trust is c/o USBFS, 615 E. Michigan Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202.

 
 
Name and Year of Birth
 
 
Position Held
with the Trust
 
Term of
Office and
Length of
Time Served
 
 
Principal Occupation(s)
During Past 5 Years
Number of
Portfolios in
Fund Complex
Overseen by
Trustee
 
 
Other Directorships
Held by Trustee
During Past 5 Years
Independent Trustees
Leonard M. Rush, CPA
Born: 1946
Lead Independent
Trustee and Audit
Committee
Chairman
Indefinite
term; since
2012
Retired; formerly Chief Financial Officer, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated (wealth management firm) (2000–2011).
[ ]
Independent Trustee, Managed Portfolio Series (38 portfolios); Director, Anchor Bancorp Wisconsin, Inc. (2011–2013).
David A. Massart
Born: 1967
Trustee
Indefinite
term; since
2012
Co-Founder, President and Chief Investment Strategist, Next Generation Wealth Management, Inc. (since 2005).
[ ]
Independent Trustee, Managed Portfolio Series (38 portfolios).
 
 
Janet D. Olsen
Born: 1956
Trustee
Indefinite
term; since
2018
Retired; formerly Managing Director and General Counsel, Artisan Partners Limited Partnership (investment adviser) (2000–2013); Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Artisan Partners Asset Management Inc. (2012–2013); Vice President and General Counsel, Artisan Funds, Inc. (investment company) (2001–2012).
[ ]
Independent Trustee, PPM Funds (9 portfolios) (since 2018).
Interested Trustee
Michael A. Castino
Born: 1967
Trustee and
Chairman
Indefinite
term;
Trustee
since 2014;
Chairman
since 2013
Senior Vice President, USBFS (since 2013); Managing Director of Index Services, Zacks Investment Management (2011–2013).
[ ]
None

Individual Trustee Qualifications. The Trust has concluded that each of the Trustees should serve on the Board because of their ability to review and understand information about the Fund provided to them by management, to identify and request other information they may deem relevant to the performance of their duties, to question management and other service providers regarding material factors bearing on the management and administration of the Fund, and to exercise their business judgment in a manner that serves the best interests of the Fund’s shareholders. The Trust has concluded that each of the Trustees should serve as a Trustee based on his or her own experience, qualifications, attributes and skills as described below.
The Trust has concluded that Mr. Rush should serve as a Trustee because of his substantial industry experience, including serving in several different senior executive roles at various global financial services firms, and the experience he has gained as serving as trustee of another investment company trust since 2011. He most recently served as Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer of Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated and several other affiliated entities and served as the Treasurer for Baird Funds. He also served as the Chief Financial Officer for Fidelity Investments’ four broker-dealers and has substantial experience with mutual fund and investment advisory organizations and related businesses, including Vice President and Head of Compliance for Fidelity Investments, a Vice President at Credit Suisse First Boston, a Manager with Goldman Sachs, & Co. and a Senior Manager with Deloitte & Touche. Mr. Rush has been determined to qualify as an Audit Committee Financial Expert for the Trust.
The Trust has concluded that Mr. Massart should serve as a Trustee because of his substantial industry experience, including over two decades working with high net worth individuals, families, trusts, and retirement accounts to make strategic and tactical asset allocation decisions, evaluate and select investment managers, and manage complex client relationships, and the experience he has gained as serving as trustee of another investment company trust since 2011. He is currently the President and Chief Investment Strategist of the SEC registered investment advisory firm he co-founded. Previously, he served as Managing Director of Strong Private Client and as a Manager of Wells Fargo Investments, LLC.
The Trust has concluded that Ms. Olsen should serve as a Trustee because of her substantial industry experience, including over a decade serving as a senior executive of an investment management firm and a related public company, and the experience she has gained by serving as an executive officer of another investment company from 2001 to 2012. Ms. Olsen most recently served as Managing Director and General Counsel of Artisan Partners Limited Partnership, a registered investment adviser serving primarily investment companies and institutional investors, and several affiliated entities, including its general partner, Artisan Partners Asset Management Inc. (NYSE: APAM), and as an executive officer of Artisan Funds Inc.
The Trust has concluded that Mr. Castino should serve as Trustee because of the experience he gained as Chairman of the Trust since 2013, as a senior officer of USBFS since 2012, and in his past roles with investment management firms and indexing firms involved with ETFs, as well as his experience in and knowledge of the financial services industry.
In its periodic assessment of the effectiveness of the Board, the Board considers the complementary individual skills and experience of the individual Trustees primarily in the broader context of the Board’s overall composition so that the Board, as a body, possesses the appropriate (and appropriately diverse) skills and experience to oversee the business of the funds.
Board Committees. The Board has established the following standing committees of the Board:
Audit Committee. The Board has a standing Audit Committee that is composed of each of the Independent Trustees of the Trust. The Audit Committee operates under a written charter approved by the Board. The principal responsibilities of the Audit Committee include: recommending which firm to engage as the Fund’s independent registered public accounting firm and whether to terminate this relationship; reviewing the independent registered public accounting firm’s compensation, the proposed scope and terms of its engagement, and the firm’s independence; pre-approving audit and non-audit services provided by the Fund’s independent registered public accounting firm to the Trust and certain other affiliated entities; serving as a channel of communication between the independent registered public accounting firm and the Trustees; reviewing the results of each external audit, including any qualifications in the independent registered public accounting firm’s opinion, any related management letter, management’s responses to recommendations made by the independent registered public accounting firm in connection with the audit, reports submitted to the Committee by the internal auditing department of the Trust’s Administrator that are material to the Trust as a whole, if any, and management’s responses to any such reports; reviewing the Fund’s audited financial statements and considering any significant disputes between the Trust’s management and the independent registered public accounting firm that arose in connection with the preparation of those financial statements; considering, in consultation with the independent registered public accounting firm and the Trust’s senior internal accounting executive, if any, the independent registered public accounting firms’ report on the adequacy of the Trust’s internal financial controls; reviewing, in consultation with the Fund’s independent registered public accounting firm, major changes regarding auditing and accounting principles and practices to be followed when preparing the Fund’s financial statements; and other audit related matters. Each Independent Trustee currently serves as a member of the Audit Committee. During the fiscal year ended October 31, 2018, the Audit Committee met [four times].
The Audit Committee also serves as the Qualified Legal Compliance Committee (“QLCC”) for the Trust for the purpose of compliance with Rules 205.2(k) and 205.3(c) of the Code of Federal Regulations, regarding alternative reporting procedures for attorneys retained or employed by an issuer who appear and practice before the SEC on behalf of the issuer (the “issuer attorneys”). An issuer attorney who becomes aware of evidence of a material violation by the Trust, or by any officer, director, employee, or agent of the Trust, may report evidence of such material violation to the QLCC as an alternative to the reporting requirements of Rule 205.3(b) (which requires reporting to the chief legal officer and potentially “up the ladder” to other entities).
Nominating Committee. The Board has a standing Nominating Committee that is composed of each of the Independent Trustees of the Trust. The Nominating Committee operates under a written charter approved by the Board. The principal responsibility of the Nominating Committee is to consider, recommend and nominate candidates to fill vacancies on the Trust’s Board, if any. The Nominating Committee generally will not consider nominees recommended by shareholders. The Nominating Committee meets periodically, as necessary. During the fiscal year ended October 31, 2018, the Nominating Committee [met one time].
Valuation Committee. The Board has delegated day-to-day valuation issues to a Valuation Committee that is comprised of certain officers of the Trust and certain employees of USBFS. Although the Valuation Committee is not a committee of the Board (i.e., no Trustee is a member of the Valuation Committee), the Valuation Committee’s membership is appointed by the Board and its charter and applicable procedures are approved by the Board. The function of the Valuation Committee is to value securities held by any series of the Trust for which current and reliable market quotations are not readily available. Such securities are valued at their respective fair values as determined in good faith by the Valuation Committee and the actions of the Valuation Committee are subsequently reviewed and ratified by the Board. The Valuation Committee meets as necessary.
Principal Officers of the Trust
The officers of the Trust conduct and supervise its daily business. The address of each officer of the Trust is c/o USBFS, 615 E. Michigan Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202. Additional information about the Trust’s officers is as follows:

Name and Year of Birth
Position(s) Held with the
Trust
Term of Office and
Length of Time
Served
Principal Occupation(s) During Past 5 Years
Paul R. Fearday, CPA
Born: 1979
President and Assistant
Treasurer
Indefinite term;
President and Assistant
Treasurer since 2014
(other roles since 2013)
Senior Vice President, U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, LLC (since 2008); Manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (accounting firm) (2002–2008).
Michael D. Barolsky, Esq.
Born: 1981
Vice President and
Secretary
Indefinite term; since
2014 (other roles
since 2013)
Vice President, USBFS (since 2012); Associate, Thompson Hine LLP (law firm) (2008–2012).
James R. Butz
Born: 1982
Chief Compliance Officer
Indefinite term; since
2015
Senior Vice President, USBFS (since 2015); Vice President, USBFS (2014– 2015); Assistant Vice President, USBFS (2011–2014).
Kristen M. Weitzel, CPA
Born: 1977
Treasurer
Indefinite term; since
2014 (other roles
since 2013)
Vice President, USBFS (since 2015); Assistant Vice President, USBFS (2011- 2015); Manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (accounting firm) (2005–2011).
Brett M. Wickmann
Born: 1982
Assistant Treasurer
Indefinite term;
since 2017
Vice President, USBFS (since 2017); Assistant Vice President, USBFS (2012– 2017).
Elizabeth A. Winske
Born: 1983
Assistant Treasurer
Indefinite term;
since 2017
Assistant Vice President, USBFS (since 2016); Officer, USBFS (2012–2016).
 
Trustee Ownership of Shares. The Fund is required to show the dollar amount ranges of each Trustee’s “beneficial ownership” of Shares and each other series of the Trust as of the end of the most recently completely calendar year. Dollar amount ranges disclosed are established by the SEC. “Beneficial ownership” is determined in accordance with Rule 16a-1(a)(2) under the 1934 Act.
[As of the date of this SAI, no Trustee or officer of the Trust owned Shares.]
Board Compensation. The Independent Trustees each receive an annual trustee fee of $104,000 for attendance at the four regularly scheduled quarterly meetings and one annual meeting, if necessary, and receive additional compensation for each additional meeting attended of $2,000, as well as reimbursement for travel and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with attendance at Board meetings. The Lead Independent Trustee receives an additional annual fee of $8,000. The Chairman of the Audit Committee receives an additional annual fee of $5,500. The Trust has no pension or retirement plan.

The following table shows the estimated compensation expected to be earned by each Trustee for the Fund’s fiscal year ending October 31, 2019. Independent Trustee fees are paid by the Adviser to each series of the Trust and not by the Fund. Trustee compensation does not include reimbursed out- of-pocket expenses in connection with attendance at meetings.

 Name
Aggregate Compensation
From the Fund
Total Compensation From Fund Complex
Paid to Trustees
Interested Trustee
Michael A. Castino
$0
$0
Independent Trustees
Leonard M. Rush, CPA
$0
$[ ]
David A. Massart
$0
$[ ]
Janet D. Olsen
$0
$[ ]
Principal Shareholders, Control Persons, and Management Ownership
A principal shareholder is any person who owns of record or beneficially 5% or more of the outstanding Shares. A control person is a shareholder that owns beneficially or through controlled companies more than 25% of the voting securities of a company or acknowledges the existence of control. Shareholders owning voting securities in excess of 25% may determine the outcome of any matter affecting and voted on by shareholders of the Fund. As of the date of this SAI, there were no outstanding Shares.
Codes of Ethics
The Trust, the Adviser, the Sub-Adviser, and the Distributor (as defined under “The Distributor”) have each adopted codes of ethics pursuant to Rule 17j-1 of the 1940 Act. These codes of ethics are designed to prevent affiliated persons of the Trust, the Adviser, the Sub-Adviser and the Distributor from engaging in deceptive, manipulative or fraudulent activities in connection with securities held or to be acquired by the Fund (which may also be held by persons subject to the codes of ethics). Each Code of Ethics permits personnel subject to that Code of Ethics to invest in securities for their personal investment accounts, subject to certain limitations, including limitations related to securities that may be purchased or held by the Fund.
There can be no assurance that the codes of ethics will be effective in preventing such activities. Each code of ethics may be examined at the office of the SEC in Washington, D.C. or on the Internet at the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov.
Proxy Voting Policies
The Fund has delegated proxy voting responsibilities to the Adviser, subject to the Board’s oversight. In delegating proxy responsibilities, the Board has directed that proxies be voted consistent with the Fund’s and its shareholders’ best interests and in compliance with all applicable proxy voting rules and regulations. The Adviser has engaged Glass, Lewis & Co. (“Glass Lewis”) to make recommendations to the Adviser on the voting of proxies relating to securities held by the Fund and has adopted the Glass Lewis Guidelines as part of the Adviser’s proxy voting policies (the “Proxy Voting Policies”) for such purpose. A copy of the Glass Lewis Guidelines is set forth in Appendix A to this SAI. The Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer is responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of the Proxy Voting Policies. The Proxy Voting Policies have been adopted by the Trust as the policies and procedures that the Adviser will use when voting proxies on behalf of the Fund.
When available, information on how the Fund voted proxies relating to portfolio securities during the most recent 12 month period ended June 30 will be available (1) without charge, upon request, by calling 1-800-617-0004 and (2) on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
Investment Adviser And Sub-Adviser
Investment Adviser
Advisors Asset Management, Inc., a Delaware corporation, serves as the investment adviser to the Fund. AAM is located at 18925 Base Camp Road, Suite 203, Monument, Colorado 80132. AAM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AAM Holdings, Inc., which is controlled indirectly by Scott Colyer, the Adviser’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer, and Lisa Colyer, each by virtue of their ownership of at least 25% of the Adviser directly or through one or more trusts or other entities. AAM is a registered broker dealer, member FINRA and SIPC, and SEC registered investment adviser.
AAM arranges for sub-advisory, transfer agency, custody, fund administration, distribution, and all other services necessary for the Fund to operate. AAM provides oversight of the Sub-Adviser, defined below, monitoring of the Sub-Adviser’s buying and selling of securities for the Fund, and review of the Sub-Adviser’s performance. For the services it provides to the Fund, the Fund pays AAM a unified management fee, which is calculated daily and paid monthly, at an annual rate of the Fund’s average daily net assets as follows:
Name of Fund
Management Fee
AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF
[  ]%
Under the Investment Advisory Agreement, AAM has agreed to pay all expenses of the Fund, except for: the fee paid to AAM pursuant to the Investment Advisory Agreement, interest charges on any borrowings, dividends and other expenses on securities sold short, taxes, brokerage commissions and other expenses incurred in placing orders for the purchase and sale of securities and other investment instruments, acquired fund fees and expenses, accrued deferred tax liability, extraordinary expenses, and distribution (12b‑1) fees and expenses.
AAM, in turn, compensates the Sub-Adviser from the management fee it receives from the Fund. AAM shall not be liable to the Trust or any shareholder for anything done or omitted by it, except acts or omissions involving willful misfeasance, bad faith, gross negligence or reckless disregard of the duties imposed upon it by its agreement with the Trust.
The Fund is new and has not paid management fees to the Adviser as of the date of this SAI.
Sub-Adviser
The Trust, on behalf of the Fund, and the Adviser have retained Vident Investment Advisory, LLC, located at 300 Colonial Center Parkway, Suite 330, Roswell, Georgia 30076, to serve as sub-adviser for the Fund. The Sub-Adviser was established in 2014 and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vident Financial, LLC. Vident Financial, LLC was formed in 2013 to develop and license investment market solutions (indices and funds) based on strategies that combine sophisticated risk-balancing methodologies, economic freedom metrics, valuation, and investor behavior. Vident Financial, LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Vident Investors’ Oversight Trust. Andrew T. Schmuhl and Vince L. Birley serve as the trustees of the Vident Investors’ Oversight Trust.
Pursuant to a Sub-Advisory Agreement between the Adviser and the Sub-Adviser (the “Sub-Advisory Agreement”), the Sub-Adviser is responsible for trading portfolio securities on behalf of the Fund, including selecting broker-dealers to execute purchase and sale transactions as instructed by the Adviser or in connection with any rebalancing or reconstitution of the Fund’s Index, subject to the supervision of the Adviser and the Board. For the services it provides to the Fund, the Sub-Adviser is compensated by the Adviser from the management fees paid by the Fund to the Adviser.
The Sub-Advisory Agreement was approved by the Trustees (including all the Independent Trustees) and the Adviser, as sole shareholder of the Fund, in compliance with the 1940 Act. The Sub-Advisory Agreement will continue in force for an initial period of up to two years. Thereafter, the Sub-Advisory Agreement is renewable from year to year with respect to the Fund, so long as its continuance is approved at least annually (1) by the vote, cast in person at a meeting called for that purpose, of a majority of those Trustees who are not “interested persons” of the Trust; and (2) by the majority vote of either the full Board or the vote of a majority of the outstanding Shares. The Sub-Advisory Agreement will terminate automatically in the event of its assignment, and is terminable at any time without penalty by the Board or, with respect to the Fund, by a majority of the outstanding Shares or by the Adviser on not less than 60 days’ written notice to the Sub-Adviser, or by the Sub-Adviser on 90 days’ written notice to the Adviser and the Trust. The Sub- Advisory Agreement provides that the Sub-Adviser shall not be protected against any liability to the Trust or its shareholders by reason of willful misfeasance, bad faith, or gross negligence on its part in the performance of its duties or from reckless disregard of its obligations or duties thereunder.
The Fund is new, and the Adviser has not paid sub-advisory fees to the Sub-Adviser in connection with the Fund as of the date of this SAI.
Portfolio Managers
The Fund is co-managed by Denise M. Krisko and Habib Moudachirou.
Share Ownership
The Fund is required to show the dollar ranges of the portfolio managers’ “beneficial ownership” of Shares as of the end of the most recently completed fiscal year or a more recent date for a new portfolio manager. Dollar amount ranges disclosed are established by the SEC. “Beneficial ownership” is determined in accordance with Rule 16a-1(a)(2) under the 1934 Act. As of the date of this SAI, the Portfolio Managers did not beneficially own Shares.
Other Accounts
In addition to the Fund, the portfolio managers managed the following other accounts for the Sub-Adviser as of [ ], 2018, none of which were subject to a performance fee:

 
 
Portfolio Manager
Registered
Investment Companies
Other Pooled
Investment Vehicles
 
Other Accounts
Number of
Accounts
Total Assets in
the Accounts
Number of
Accounts
Total Assets in
the Accounts
Number of
Accounts
Total Assets in
the Accounts
Denise M. Krisko, CFA
[ ]
$[ ]
[ ]
$[ ]
[ ]
$[ ]
Habib Moudachirou
[ ]
$[ ]
[ ]
$[ ]
[ ]
$[ ]
Compensation
The Fund’s portfolio managers receive a fixed base salary and discretionary bonus that are not tied to the performance of the Fund.
Conflicts of Interest
A portfolio manager’s management of “other accounts” may give rise to potential conflicts of interest in connection with his/her management of the Fund’s investments, on the one hand, and the investments of the other accounts, on the other. The other accounts may have similar investment objectives or strategies as the Fund. A potential conflict of interest may arise as a result, whereby a portfolio manager could favor one account over another. Another potential conflict could include a portfolio manager’s knowledge about the size, timing, and possible market impact of Fund trades, whereby the portfolio manager could use this information to the advantage of other accounts and to the disadvantage of the Fund. However, the Sub-Adviser has established policies and procedures to ensure that the purchase and sale of securities among all accounts the Sub-Adviser manages are fairly and equitably allocated.
The Distributor
The Trust and Quasar Distributors, LLC (the “Distributor”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp, and an affiliate of the Administrator, are parties to a distribution agreement (“Distribution Agreement”), whereby the Distributor acts as principal underwriter for the Trust and distributes Shares. Shares are continuously offered for sale by the Distributor only in Creation Units. The Distributor will not distribute Shares in amounts less than a Creation Unit and does not maintain a secondary market in Shares. The principal business address of the Distributor is 777 East Wisconsin Avenue, 6th Floor, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202.
Under the Distribution Agreement, the Distributor, as agent for the Trust, will receive orders for the purchase and redemption of Creation Units, provided that any subscriptions and orders will not be binding on the Trust until accepted by the Trust. The Distributor is a broker-dealer registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and a member of FINRA.
The Distributor may also enter into agreements with securities dealers (“Soliciting Dealers”) who will solicit purchases of Creation Units of Shares. Such Soliciting Dealers may also be Authorized Participants (as discussed in “Procedures for Purchase of Creation Units” below) or DTC participants (as defined below).
The Distribution Agreement will continue for two years from its effective date and is renewable annually thereafter. The continuance of the Distribution Agreement must be specifically approved at least annually (i) by the vote of the Trustees or by a vote of the shareholders of the Fund and (ii) by the vote of a majority of the Independent Trustees who have no direct or indirect financial interest in the operations of the Distribution Agreement or any related agreement, cast in person at a meeting called for the purpose of voting on such approval. The Distribution Agreement is terminable without penalty by the Trust on 60 days’ written notice when authorized either by majority vote of its outstanding voting Shares or by a vote of a majority of its Board (including a majority of the Independent Trustees), or by the Distributor on 60 days’ written notice, and will automatically terminate in the event of its assignment. The Distribution Agreement provides that in the absence of willful misfeasance, bad faith or gross negligence on the part of the Distributor, or reckless disregard by it of its obligations thereunder, the Distributor shall not be liable for any action or failure to act in accordance with its duties thereunder.
Intermediary Compensation. The Adviser, the Sub-Adviser, or their affiliates, out of their own resources and not out of Fund assets (i.e., without additional cost to the Fund or its shareholders), may pay certain broker dealers, banks and other financial intermediaries (“Intermediaries”) for certain activities related to the Fund, including participation in activities that are designed to make Intermediaries more knowledgeable about exchange traded products, including the Fund, or for other activities, such as marketing and educational training or support. These arrangements are not financed by the Fund and, thus, do not result in increased Fund expenses. They are not reflected in the fees and expenses listed in the fees and expenses sections of the Fund’s Prospectus and they do not change the price paid by investors for the purchase of Shares or the amount received by a shareholder as proceeds from the redemption of Shares.
Such compensation may be paid to Intermediaries that provide services to the Fund, including marketing and education support (such as through conferences, webinars and printed communications). The Adviser and Sub-Adviser will periodically assess the advisability of continuing to make these payments. Payments to an Intermediary may be significant to the Intermediary, and amounts that Intermediaries pay to your adviser, broker or other investment professional, if any, may also be significant to such adviser, broker or investment professional. Because an Intermediary may make decisions about what investment options it will make available or recommend, and what services to provide in connection with various products, based on payments it receives or is eligible to receive, such payments create conflicts of interest between the Intermediary and its clients. For example, these financial incentives may cause the Intermediary to recommend the Fund over other investments. The same conflict of interest exists with respect to your financial adviser, broker or investment professional if he or she receives similar payments from his or her Intermediary firm.
Intermediary information is current only as of the date of this SAI. Please contact your adviser, broker, or other investment professional for more information regarding any payments his or her Intermediary firm may receive. Any payments made by the Adviser, Sub- Adviser or their affiliates to an Intermediary may create the incentive for an Intermediary to encourage customers to buy Shares.
If you have any additional questions, please call 1-800-617-0004.
The Transfer Agent, Index Receipt Agent, and Administrator
U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, LLC, located at 615 East Michigan Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202, serves as the Fund’s transfer agent, index receipt agent, and administrator.
Pursuant to a Fund Administration Servicing Agreement and a Fund Accounting Servicing Agreement between the Trust and USBFS, USBFS provides the Trust with administrative and management services (other than investment advisory services) and accounting services, including portfolio accounting services, tax accounting services, and furnishing financial reports. In this capacity, USBFS does not have any responsibility or authority for the management of the Fund, the determination of investment policy, or for any matter pertaining to the distribution of Shares. As compensation for the administration, accounting and management services, the Adviser pays USBFS a fee based on the Fund’s average daily net assets, subject to a minimum annual fee. USBFS also is entitled to certain out-of- pocket expenses for the services mentioned above, including pricing expenses.
The Fund is new and the Adviser has not paid USBFS any fees for administrative services to the Fund as of the date of this SAI.
Custodian and Securities Lending Agent
Pursuant to a Custody Agreement, U.S. Bank National Association (“U.S. Bank”), 1555 North Rivercenter Drive, Suite 302, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53212, serves as the custodian of the Fund’s assets. The custodian holds and administers the assets in the Fund’s portfolio. Pursuant to the Custody Agreement, the custodian receives an annual fee from the Adviser based on the Trust’s total average daily net assets, subject to a minimum annual fee, and certain settlement charges. The custodian also is entitled to certain out-of-pocket expenses.
The Fund may participate in securities lending arrangements whereby the Fund lends certain of its portfolio securities to brokers, dealers, and financial institutions (not with individuals) to receive additional income and increase the rate of return of its portfolio. U.S. Bank serves as the Fund’s securities lending agent and is responsible for (i) negotiating the fees (rebates) of securities loans within parameters approved by the Board; (ii) delivering loaned securities to the applicable borrower(s), a list of which has been approved by the Board; investing any cash collateral received for a securities loan in investments pre-approved by the Board; (iv) receiving the returned securities at the expiration of a loan’s term; (v) daily monitoring of the value of the loaned securities and the collateral received; (vi) notifying borrowers to make additions to the collateral, when required; (vii) accounting and recordkeeping services as necessary for the operation of the securities lending program, and (viii) establishing and operating a system of controls and procedures to ensure compliance with its obligations under the Fund’s securities lending program.
Legal Counsel
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, located at 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004-2541, serves as legal counsel for the Trust.
Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm
[ ], serves as the independent registered public accounting firm for the Fund.
Portfolio Holdings Disclosure Policies and Procedures
The Trust’s Board of Trustees has adopted a policy regarding the disclosure of information about the Fund’s security holdings. The Fund’s entire portfolio holdings are publicly disseminated each day the Fund is open for business and may be available through financial reporting and news services, including publicly available internet web sites. In addition, the composition of the Deposit Securities is publicly disseminated daily prior to the opening of the Exchange via the facilities of the National Securities Clearing Corporation (“NSCC”).
Description of Shares
The Declaration of Trust authorizes the issuance of an unlimited number of funds and shares. Each share represents an equal proportionate interest in the Fund with each other share. Shares are entitled upon liquidation to a pro rata share in the net assets of the Fund. Shareholders have no preemptive rights. The Declaration of Trust provides that the Trustees may create additional series or classes of shares. All consideration received by the Trust for shares of any additional funds and all assets in which such consideration is invested would belong to that fund and would be subject to the liabilities related thereto. Share certificates representing Shares will not be issued. Shares, when issued, are fully paid and non-assessable.
Each Share has one vote with respect to matters upon which a shareholder vote is required, consistent with the requirements of the 1940 Act and the rules promulgated thereunder. Shares of all funds in the Trust vote together as a single class, except that if the matter being voted on affects only a particular fund it will be voted on only by that fund and if a matter affects a particular fund differently from other funds, that fund will vote separately on such matter. As a Delaware statutory trust, the Trust is not required, and does not intend, to hold annual meetings of shareholders. Approval of shareholders will be sought, however, for certain changes in the operation of the Trust and for the election of Trustees under certain circumstances. Upon the written request of shareholders owning at least 10% of the Trust’s shares, the Trust will call for a meeting of shareholders to consider the removal of one or more Trustees and other certain matters. In the event that such a meeting is requested, the Trust will provide appropriate assistance and information to the shareholders requesting the meeting.
Under the Declaration of Trust, the Trustees have the power to liquidate the Fund without shareholder approval. While the Trustees have no present intention of exercising this power, they may do so if the Fund fails to reach a viable size within a reasonable amount of time or for such other reasons as may be determined by the Board.
Limitation of Trustees’ Liability
The Declaration of Trust provides that a Trustee shall be liable only for his or her own willful misfeasance, bad faith, gross negligence or reckless disregard of the duties involved in the conduct of the office of Trustee, and shall not be liable for errors of judgment or mistakes of fact or law. The Trustees shall not be responsible or liable in any event for any neglect or wrong-doing of any officer, agent, employee, adviser or principal underwriter of the Trust, nor shall any Trustee be responsible for the act or omission of any other Trustee. The Declaration of Trust also provides that the Trust shall indemnify each person who is, or has been, a Trustee, officer, employee or agent of the Trust, any person who is serving or has served at the Trust’s request as a Trustee, officer, trustee, employee or agent of another organization in which the Trust has any interest as a shareholder, creditor or otherwise to the extent and in the manner provided in the Amended and Restated By-laws. However, nothing in the Declaration of Trust shall protect or indemnify a Trustee against any liability for his or her willful misfeasance, bad faith, gross negligence or reckless disregard of the duties involved in the conduct of the office of Trustee. Nothing contained in this section attempts to disclaim a Trustee’s individual liability in any manner inconsistent with the federal securities laws.
Brokerage Transactions
The policy of the Trust regarding purchases and sales of securities for the Fund is that primary consideration will be given to obtaining the most favorable prices and efficient executions of transactions. Consistent with this policy, when securities transactions are effected on a stock exchange, the Trust’s policy is to pay commissions which are considered fair and reasonable without necessarily determining that the lowest possible commissions are paid in all circumstances. The Trust believes that a requirement always to seek the lowest possible commission cost could impede effective portfolio management and preclude the Fund and the Sub-Adviser from obtaining a high quality of brokerage and research services. In seeking to determine the reasonableness of brokerage commissions paid in any transaction, the Sub-Adviser will rely upon its experience and knowledge regarding commissions generally charged by various brokers and on its judgment in evaluating the brokerage services received from the broker effecting the transaction. Such determinations are necessarily subjective and imprecise, as in most cases, an exact dollar value for those services is not ascertainable. The Trust has adopted policies and procedures that prohibit the consideration of sales of Shares as a factor in the selection of a broker or dealer to execute its portfolio transactions.
The Sub-Adviser owes a fiduciary duty to its clients to seek to provide best execution on trades effected. In selecting a broker/dealer for each specific transaction, the Sub-Adviser chooses the broker/dealer deemed most capable of providing the services necessary to obtain the most favorable execution. “Best execution” is generally understood to mean the most favorable cost or net proceeds reasonably obtainable under the circumstances. The full range of brokerage services applicable to a particular transaction may be considered when making this judgment, which may include, but is not limited to: liquidity, price, commission, timing, aggregated trades, capable floor brokers or traders, competent block trading coverage, ability to position, capital strength and stability, reliable and accurate communications and settlement processing, use of automation, knowledge of other buyers or sellers, arbitrage skills, administrative ability, underwriting and provision of information on a particular security or market in which the transaction is to occur. The specific criteria will vary depending upon the nature of the transaction, the market in which it is executed, and the extent to which it is possible to select from among multiple broker/dealers. The Sub-Adviser will also use electronic crossing networks (“ECNs”) when appropriate.
Subject to the foregoing policies, brokers or dealers selected to execute the Fund’s portfolio transactions may include such Fund’s Authorized Participants (as discussed in “Procedures for Purchase of Creation Units” below) or their affiliates. An Authorized Participant or its affiliates may be selected to execute the Fund’s portfolio transactions in conjunction with an all-cash creation unit order or an order including “cash-in-lieu” (as described below under “Purchase and Redemption of Shares in Creation Units”), so long as such selection is in keeping with the foregoing policies. As described below under “Purchase and Redemption of Shares in Creation Units— Creation Transaction Fee” and “—Redemption Transaction Fee”, the Fund may determine to not charge a variable fee on certain orders when the Adviser has determined that doing so is in the best interests of Fund shareholders, e.g., for creation orders that facilitate the rebalance of the Fund’s portfolio in a more tax efficient manner than could be achieved without such order, even if the decision to not charge a variable fee could be viewed as benefiting the Authorized Participant or its affiliate selected to execute the Fund’s portfolio transactions in connection with such orders.
The Sub-Adviser may use the Fund’s assets for, or participate in, third-party soft dollar arrangements, in addition to receiving proprietary research from various full service brokers, the cost of which is bundled with the cost of the broker’s execution services. The Sub-Adviser does not “pay up” for the value of any such proprietary research. Section 28(e) of the 1934 Act permits the Sub-Adviser, under certain circumstances, to cause the Fund to pay a broker or dealer a commission for effecting a transaction in excess of the amount of commission another broker or dealer would have charged for effecting the transaction in recognition of the value of brokerage and research services provided by the broker or dealer. The Sub-Adviser may receive a variety of research services and information on many topics, which it can use in connection with its management responsibilities with respect to the various accounts over which it exercises investment discretion or otherwise provides investment advice. The research services may include qualifying order management systems, portfolio attribution and monitoring services and computer software and access charges which are directly related to investment research. Accordingly, the Fund may pay a broker commission higher than the lowest available in recognition of the broker’s provision of such services to the Sub-Adviser, but only if the Sub-Adviser determines the total commission (including the soft dollar benefit) is comparable to the best commission rate that could be expected to be received from other brokers. The amount of soft dollar benefits received depends on the amount of brokerage transactions effected with the brokers. A conflict of interest exists because there is an incentive to: 1) cause clients to pay a higher commission than the firm might otherwise be able to negotiate; 2) cause clients to engage in more securities transactions than would otherwise be optimal; and 3) only recommend brokers that provide soft dollar benefits.
The Sub-Adviser faces a potential conflict of interest when it uses client trades to obtain brokerage or research services. This conflict exists because the Sub-Adviser is able to use the brokerage or research services to manage client accounts without paying cash for such services, which reduces the Sub-Adviser’s expenses to the extent that the Sub-Adviser would have purchased such products had they not been provided by brokers. Section 28(e) permits the Sub-Adviser to use brokerage or research services for the benefit of any account it manages. Certain accounts managed by the Sub-Adviser may generate soft dollars used to purchase brokerage or research services that ultimately benefit other accounts managed by the Sub-Adviser, effectively cross subsidizing the other accounts managed by the Sub- Adviser that benefit directly from the product. The Sub-Adviser may not necessarily use all of the brokerage or research services in connection with managing the Fund whose trades generated the soft dollars used to purchase such products.
The Sub-Adviser is responsible, subject to oversight by the Adviser and the Board, for placing orders on behalf of the Fund for the purchase or sale of portfolio securities. If purchases or sales of portfolio securities of the Fund and one or more other investment companies or clients supervised by the Sub-Adviser are considered at or about the same time, transactions in such securities are allocated among the several investment companies and clients in a manner deemed equitable and consistent with its fiduciary obligations to all by the Sub-Adviser. In some cases, this procedure could have a detrimental effect on the price or volume of the security so far as the Fund is concerned. However, in other cases, it is possible that the ability to participate in volume transactions and to negotiate lower brokerage commissions will be beneficial to the Fund. The primary consideration is prompt execution of orders at the most favorable net price.
The Fund may deal with affiliates in principal transactions to the extent permitted by exemptive order or applicable rule or regulation. The Fund is new and had not paid any brokerage commissions as of the date of this SAI.
 
Brokerage with Fund Affiliates. The Fund may execute brokerage or other agency transactions through registered broker-dealer affiliates of the Fund, the Adviser, the Sub-Adviser or the Distributor for a commission in conformity with the 1940 Act, the 1934 Act and rules promulgated by the SEC. These rules require that commissions paid to the affiliate by the Fund for exchange transactions not exceed “usual and customary” brokerage commissions. The rules define “usual and customary” commissions to include amounts which are “reasonable and fair compared to the commission, fee or other remuneration received or to be received by other brokers in connection with comparable transactions involving similar securities being purchased or sold on a securities exchange during a comparable period of time.” The Trustees, including those who are not “interested persons” of the Fund, have adopted procedures for evaluating the reasonableness of commissions paid to affiliates and review these procedures periodically.
Securities of “Regular Broker-Dealers.” The Fund is required to identify any securities of its “regular brokers and dealers” (as such term is defined in the 1940 Act) that it may hold at the close of its most recent fiscal year. “Regular brokers or dealers” of the Fund are the ten brokers or dealers that, during the most recent fiscal year: (i) received the greatest dollar amounts of brokerage commissions from the Fund’s portfolio transactions; (ii) engaged as principal in the largest dollar amounts of portfolio transactions of the Fund; or (iii) sold the largest dollar amounts of Shares. Because the Fund is new, as of the date of this SAI, it did not hold any securities of “regular broker dealers.”
Portfolio Turnover Rate
Portfolio turnover may vary from year to year, as well as within a year. High turnover rates are likely to result in comparatively greater brokerage expenses. The overall reasonableness of brokerage commissions is evaluated by the Sub-Adviser based upon its knowledge of available information as to the general level of commissions paid by other institutional investors for comparable services.
Book Entry Only System
The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) acts as securities depositary for Shares. Shares are represented by securities registered in the name of DTC or its nominee, Cede & Co., and deposited with, or on behalf of, DTC. Except in limited circumstances set forth below, certificates will not be issued for Shares.
DTC is a limited-purpose trust company that was created to hold securities of its participants (the “DTC Participants”) and to facilitate the clearance and settlement of securities transactions among the DTC Participants in such securities through electronic book-entry changes in accounts of the DTC Participants, thereby eliminating the need for physical movement of securities certificates. DTC Participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and certain other organizations, some of whom (and/or their representatives) own DTC. More specifically, DTC is owned by a number of its DTC Participants and by the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) and FINRA. Access to the DTC system is also available to others such as banks, brokers, dealers, and trust companies that clear through or maintain a custodial relationship with a DTC Participant, either directly or indirectly (the “Indirect Participants”).
Beneficial ownership of Shares is limited to DTC Participants, Indirect Participants, and persons holding interests through DTC Participants and Indirect Participants. Ownership of beneficial interests in Shares (owners of such beneficial interests are referred to in this SAI as “Beneficial Owners”) is shown on, and the transfer of ownership is effected only through, records maintained by DTC (with respect to DTC Participants) and on the records of DTC Participants (with respect to Indirect Participants and Beneficial Owners that are not DTC Participants). Beneficial Owners will receive from or through the DTC Participant a written confirmation relating to their purchase of Shares. The Trust recognizes DTC or its nominee as the record owner of all Shares for all purposes. Beneficial Owners of Shares are not entitled to have Shares registered in their names, and will not receive or be entitled to physical delivery of Share certificates. Each Beneficial Owner must rely on the procedures of DTC and any DTC Participant and/or Indirect Participant through which such Beneficial Owner holds its interests, to exercise any rights of a holder of Shares.
Conveyance of all notices, statements, and other communications to Beneficial Owners is effected as follows. DTC will make available to the Trust upon request and for a fee a listing of Shares held by each DTC Participant. The Trust shall obtain from each such DTC Participant the number of Beneficial Owners holding Shares, directly or indirectly, through such DTC Participant. The Trust shall provide each such DTC Participant with copies of such notice, statement, or other communication, in such form, number and at such place as such DTC Participant may reasonably request, in order that such notice, statement or communication may be transmitted by such DTC Participant, directly or indirectly, to such Beneficial Owners. In addition, the Trust shall pay to each such DTC Participant a fair and reasonable amount as reimbursement for the expenses attendant to such transmittal, all subject to applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.
Share distributions shall be made to DTC or its nominee, Cede & Co., as the registered holder of all Shares. DTC or its nominee, upon receipt of any such distributions, shall credit immediately DTC Participants’ accounts with payments in amounts proportionate to their respective beneficial interests in the Fund as shown on the records of DTC or its nominee. Payments by DTC Participants to Indirect Participants and Beneficial Owners of Shares held through such DTC Participants will be governed by standing instructions and customary practices, as is now the case with securities held for the accounts of customers in bearer form or registered in a “street name,” and will be the responsibility of such DTC Participants.
The Trust has no responsibility or liability for any aspect of the records relating to or notices to Beneficial Owners, or payments made on account of beneficial ownership interests in Shares, or for maintaining, supervising, or reviewing any records relating to such beneficial ownership interests, or for any other aspect of the relationship between DTC and the DTC Participants or the relationship between such DTC Participants and the Indirect Participants and Beneficial Owners owning through such DTC Participants.
DTC may determine to discontinue providing its service with respect to the Fund at any time by giving reasonable notice to the Fund and discharging its responsibilities with respect thereto under applicable law. Under such circumstances, the Fund shall take action either to find a replacement for DTC to perform its functions at a comparable cost or, if such replacement is unavailable, to issue and deliver printed certificates representing ownership of Shares, unless the Trust makes other arrangements with respect thereto satisfactory to the Exchange.
Purchase and Redemption of Shares in Creation Units
The Trust issues and sells Shares only in Creation Units on a continuous basis through the Distributor, without a sales load (but subject to transaction fees, if applicable), at their NAV per share next determined after receipt of an order, on any Business Day, in proper form pursuant to the terms of the Authorized Participant Agreement (“Participant Agreement”). The NAV of Shares is calculated each business day as of the scheduled close of regular trading on the NYSE, generally 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time. The Fund will not issue fractional Creation Units. A “Business Day” is any day on which the NYSE is open for business.
Fund Deposit. The consideration for purchase of a Creation Unit of the Fund generally consists of the in-kind deposit of a designated portfolio of securities (the “Deposit Securities”) per each Creation Unit, constituting a substantial replication, or a portfolio sampling representation, of the securities included in the Fund’s Index and the Cash Component (defined below), computed as described below. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Trust reserves the right to permit or require the substitution of a “cash in lieu” amount (“Deposit Cash”) to be added to the Cash Component to replace any Deposit Security. When accepting purchases of Creation Units for all or a portion of Deposit Cash, the Fund may incur additional costs associated with the acquisition of Deposit Securities that would otherwise be provided by an in-kind purchaser.
Together, the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable, and the Cash Component constitute the “Fund Deposit,” which represents the minimum initial and subsequent investment amount for a Creation Unit of the Fund. The “Cash Component” is an amount equal to the difference between the NAV of Shares (per Creation Unit) and the value of the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable. If the Cash Component is a positive number (i.e., the NAV per Creation Unit exceeds the value of the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable), the Cash Component shall be such positive amount. If the Cash Component is a negative number (i.e., the NAV per Creation Unit is less than the value of the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable), the Cash Component shall be such negative amount and the creator will be entitled to receive cash in an amount equal to the Cash Component. The Cash Component serves the function of compensating for any differences between the NAV per Creation Unit and the value of the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable. Computation of the Cash Component excludes any stamp duty or other similar fees and expenses payable upon transfer of beneficial ownership of the Deposit Securities, if applicable, which shall be the sole responsibility of the Authorized Participant (as defined below).
The Fund, through NSCC, makes available on each Business Day, prior to the opening of business on the Exchange (currently 9:30 a.m., Eastern Time), the list of the names and the required number of Shares of each Deposit Security or the required amount of Deposit Cash, as applicable, to be included in the current Fund Deposit (based on information at the end of the previous Business Day) for the Fund. Such Fund Deposit is subject to any applicable adjustments as described below, to effect purchases of Creation Units of the Fund until such time as the next-announced composition of the Deposit Securities or the required amount of Deposit Cash, as applicable, is made available.
The identity and number of Shares of the Deposit Securities or the amount of Deposit Cash, as applicable, required for a Fund Deposit for the Fund changes as rebalancing adjustments and corporate action events are reflected from time to time by the Sub-Adviser with a view to the investment objective of the Fund. The composition of the Deposit Securities may also change in response to adjustments to the weighting or composition of the component securities of the Index.
The Trust reserves the right to permit or require the substitution of Deposit Cash to replace any Deposit Security, which shall be added to the Cash Component, including, without limitation, in situations where the Deposit Security: (i) may not be available in sufficient quantity for delivery; (ii) may not be eligible for transfer through the systems of DTC for corporate securities and municipal securities; (iii) may not be eligible for trading by an Authorized Participant (as defined below) or the investor for which it is acting; (iv) would be restricted under the securities laws or where the delivery of the Deposit Security to the Authorized Participant would result in the disposition of the Deposit Security by the Authorized Participant becoming restricted under the securities laws; or (v) in certain other situations (collectively, “custom orders”). The Trust also reserves the right to include or remove Deposit Securities from the basket in anticipation of Index rebalancing changes. The adjustments described above will reflect changes, known to the Sub-Adviser on the date of announcement to be in effect by the time of delivery of the Fund Deposit, in the composition of the subject Index being tracked by the Fund or resulting from certain corporate actions.
Procedures for Purchase of Creation Units. To be eligible to place orders with the Distributor to purchase a Creation Unit of the Fund, an entity must be (i) a “Participating Party” (i.e., a broker-dealer or other participant in the clearing process through the Continuous Net Settlement System of the NSCC (the “Clearing Process”)), a clearing agency that is registered with the SEC; or (ii) a DTC Participant (see “Book Entry Only System”). In addition, each Participating Party or DTC Participant (each, an “Authorized Participant”) must execute a Participant Agreement that has been agreed to by the Distributor, and that has been accepted by the Transfer Agent, with respect to purchases and redemptions of Creation Units. Each Authorized Participant will agree, pursuant to the terms of a Participant Agreement, on behalf of itself or any investor on whose behalf it will act, to certain conditions, including that it will pay to the Trust, an amount of cash sufficient to pay the Cash Component together with the creation transaction fee (described below), if applicable, and any other applicable fees and taxes.
All orders to purchase Shares directly from the Fund on the next Business Day must be submitted as a “Future Dated Trade” for one or more Creation Units between 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time and 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time on the prior Business Day and in the manner set forth in the Participant Agreement and/or applicable order form. The Business Day following the day on which such an order is submitted to purchase Creation Units (or an order to redeem Creation Units, as set forth below) is referred to as the “Order Placement Date.”
An Authorized Participant may require an investor to make certain representations or enter into agreements with respect to the order (e.g., to provide for payments of cash, when required). Investors should be aware that their particular broker may not have executed a Participant Agreement and that, therefore, orders to purchase Shares directly from the Fund in Creation Units have to be placed by the investor’s broker through an Authorized Participant that has executed a Participant Agreement. In such cases there may be additional charges to such investor. At any given time, there may be only a limited number of broker-dealers that have executed a Participant Agreement and only a small number of such Authorized Participants may have international capabilities.
On days when the Exchange closes earlier than normal, the Fund may require orders to create Creation Units to be placed earlier in the day. In addition, if a market or markets on which the Fund’s investments are primarily traded is closed, the Fund will also generally not accept orders on such day(s). Orders must be transmitted by an Authorized Participant by telephone or other transmission method acceptable to the Distributor pursuant to procedures set forth in the Participant Agreement and in accordance with the applicable order form. On behalf of the Fund, the Distributor will notify the Custodian of such order. The Custodian will then provide such information to the appropriate local sub-custodian(s). Those placing orders through an Authorized Participant should allow sufficient time to permit proper submission of the purchase order to the Distributor by the cut-off time on such Business Day. Economic or market disruptions or changes, or telephone or other communication failure may impede the ability to reach the Distributor or an Authorized Participant.
Fund Deposits must be delivered by an Authorized Participant through the Federal Reserve System (for cash) or through DTC (for corporate securities), through a subcustody agent (for foreign securities) and/or through such other arrangements allowed by the Trust or its agents. With respect to foreign Deposit Securities, the Custodian shall cause the subcustodian of the Fund to maintain an account into which the Authorized Participant shall deliver, on behalf of itself or the party on whose behalf it is acting, such Deposit Securities (or Deposit Cash for all or a part of such securities, as permitted or required), with any appropriate adjustments as advised by the Trust. Foreign Deposit Securities must be delivered to an account maintained at the applicable local subcustodian. A Fund Deposit transfer must be ordered by the Authorized Participant in a timely fashion so as to ensure the delivery of the requisite number of Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable, to the account of the Fund or its agents by no later than 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (or such other time as specified by the Trust) on the Settlement Date. If the Fund or its agents do not receive all of the Deposit Securities, or the required Deposit Cash in lieu thereof, by such time, then the order may be deemed rejected and the Authorized Participant shall be liable to the Fund for losses, if any, resulting therefrom. The “Settlement Date” for the Fund is generally the second Business Day after the Order Placement Date. All questions as to the number of Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash to be delivered, as applicable, and the validity, form and eligibility (including time of receipt) for the deposit of any tendered securities or cash, as applicable, will be determined by the Trust, whose determination shall be final and binding. The amount of cash represented by the Cash Component must be transferred directly to the Custodian through the Federal Reserve Bank wire transfer system in a timely manner so as to be received by the Custodian no later than the Settlement Date. If the Cash Component and the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable, are not received by the Custodian in a timely manner by the Settlement Date, the creation order may be cancelled. Upon written notice to the Distributor, such canceled order may be resubmitted the following Business Day using a Fund Deposit as newly constituted to reflect the then current NAV of the Fund.
The order shall be deemed to be received on the Business Day on which the order is placed provided that the order is placed in proper form prior to the applicable cut-off time and the federal funds in the appropriate amount are deposited by 2:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m., Eastern Time (as set forth on the applicable order form), with the Custodian on the Settlement Date. If the order is not placed in proper form as required, or federal funds in the appropriate amount are not received by 2:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m., Eastern Time (as set forth on the applicable order form) on the Settlement Date, then the order may be deemed to be rejected and the Authorized Participant shall be liable to the Fund for losses, if any, resulting therefrom. A creation request is considered to be in “proper form” if all procedures set forth in the Participant Agreement, order form and this SAI are properly followed.
Issuance of a Creation Unit. Except as provided in this SAI, Creation Units will not be issued until the transfer of good title to the Trust of the Deposit Securities or payment of Deposit Cash, as applicable, and the payment of the Cash Component have been completed. When the subcustodian has confirmed to the Custodian that the required Deposit Securities (or the cash value thereof) have been delivered to the account of the relevant subcustodian or subcustodians, the Distributor and the Adviser shall be notified of such delivery, and the Trust will issue and cause the delivery of the Creation Units. The delivery of Creation Units so created generally will occur no later than the second Business Day following the day on which the purchase order is deemed received by the Distributor. However, as discussed in Appendix B, the Fund reserves the right to settle Creation Unit transactions on a basis other than the second Business Day following the day on which the purchase order is deemed received by the Distributor to accommodate foreign market holiday schedules, to account for different treatment among foreign and U.S. markets of dividend record dates and ex-dividend dates (that is the last day the holder of a security can sell the security and still receive dividends payable on the security), and in certain other circumstances. The Authorized Participant shall be liable to the Fund for losses, if any, resulting from unsettled orders.
Creation Units may be purchased in advance of receipt by the Trust of all or a portion of the applicable Deposit Securities as described below. In these circumstances, the initial deposit will have a value greater than the NAV of Shares on the date the order is placed in proper form since, in addition to available Deposit Securities, cash must be deposited in an amount equal to the sum of (i) the Cash Component, plus (ii) an additional amount of cash equal to a percentage of the value as set forth in the Participant Agreement, of the undelivered Deposit Securities (the “Additional Cash Deposit”), which shall be maintained in a separate non-interest bearing collateral account. The Authorized Participant must deposit with the Custodian the Additional Cash Deposit, as applicable, by 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (or such other time as specified by the Trust) on the Settlement Date. If the Fund or its agents do not receive the Additional Cash Deposit in the appropriate amount, by such time, then the order may be deemed rejected and the Authorized Participant shall be liable to the Fund for losses, if any, resulting therefrom. An additional amount of cash shall be required to be deposited with the Trust, pending delivery of the missing Deposit Securities to the extent necessary to maintain the Additional Cash Deposit with the Trust in an amount at least equal to the applicable percentage, as set forth in the Participant Agreement, of the daily market value of the missing Deposit Securities. The Participant Agreement will permit the Trust to buy the missing Deposit Securities at any time. Authorized Participants will be liable to the Trust for the costs incurred by the Trust in connection with any such purchases. These costs will be deemed to include the amount by which the actual purchase price of the Deposit Securities exceeds the value of such Deposit Securities on the day the purchase order was deemed received by the Distributor plus the brokerage and related transaction costs associated with such purchases. The Trust will return any unused portion of the Additional Cash Deposit once all of the missing Deposit Securities have been properly received by the Custodian or purchased by the Trust and deposited into the Trust. In addition, a transaction fee, as described below under “Creation Transaction Fee,” may be charged. The delivery of Creation Units so created generally will occur no later than the Settlement Date.
Acceptance of Orders of Creation Units. The Trust reserves the absolute right to reject an order for Creation Units transmitted to it by the Distributor with respect to the Fund including, without limitation, if (a) the order is not in proper form; (b) the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable, delivered by the Participant are not as disseminated through the facilities of the NSCC for that date by the Custodian; (c) the investor(s), upon obtaining Shares ordered, would own 80% or more of the currently outstanding Shares; (d) acceptance of the Deposit Securities would have certain adverse tax consequences to the Fund; (e) the acceptance of the Fund Deposit would, in the opinion of counsel, be unlawful; (f) the acceptance of the Fund Deposit would otherwise, in the discretion of the Trust or the Adviser, have an adverse effect on the Trust or the rights of beneficial owners; (g) the acceptance or receipt of the order for a Creation Unit would, in the opinion of counsel to the Trust, be unlawful; or (h) in the event that circumstances outside the control of the Trust, the Custodian, the Transfer Agent and/or the Adviser make it for all practical purposes not feasible to process orders for Creation Units.
Examples of such circumstances include acts of God or public service or utility problems such as fires, floods, extreme weather conditions and power outages resulting in telephone, telecopy and computer failures; market conditions or activities causing trading halts; systems failures involving computer or other information systems affecting the Trust, the Distributor, the Custodian, a sub- custodian, the Transfer Agent, DTC, NSCC, Federal Reserve System, or any other participant in the creation process, and other extraordinary events. The Distributor shall notify a prospective creator of a Creation Unit and/or the Authorized Participant acting on behalf of the creator of a Creation Unit of its rejection of the order of such person. The Trust, the Transfer Agent, the Custodian, any sub-custodian and the Distributor are under no duty, however, to give notification of any defects or irregularities in the delivery of Fund Deposits nor shall either of them incur any liability for the failure to give any such notification. The Trust, the Transfer Agent, the Custodian and the Distributor shall not be liable for the rejection of any purchase order for Creation Units.
All questions as to the number of Shares of each security in the Deposit Securities and the validity form, eligibility and acceptance for deposit of any securities to be delivered shall be determined by the Trust, and the Trust’s determination shall be final and binding.
Creation Transaction Fee. A fixed purchase (i.e., creation) transaction fee, payable to the Fund’s custodian, may be imposed for the transfer and other transaction costs associated with the purchase of Creation Units (“Creation Order Costs”). The standard fixed creation transaction fee for the Fund, regardless of the number of Creation Units created in the transaction, is $[ ]. The Fund may adjust the standard fixed creation transaction fee from time to time. The fixed creation fee may be waived on certain orders if the Fund’s custodian has determined to waive some or all of the Creation Order Costs associated with the order or another party, such as the Adviser, has agreed to pay such fee.
In addition, a variable fee, payable to the Fund, of up to a maximum of 2% of the value of the Creation Units subject to the transaction may be imposed for cash purchases, non-standard orders, or partial cash purchases of Creation Units. The variable charge is primarily designed to cover additional costs (e.g., brokerage, taxes) involved with buying the securities with cash. The Fund may determine to not charge a variable fee on certain orders when the Adviser has determined that doing so is in the best interests of Fund shareholders, e.g., for creation orders that facilitate the rebalance of the Fund’s portfolio in a more tax efficient manner than could be achieved without such order.
Investors who use the services of a broker or other such intermediary may be charged a fee for such services. Investors are responsible for the fixed costs of transferring the Fund Securities from the Trust to their account or on their order.
Risks of Purchasing Creation Units. There are certain legal risks unique to investors purchasing Creation Units directly from the Fund. Because Shares may be issued on an ongoing basis, a “distribution” of Shares could be occurring at any time. Certain activities that a shareholder performs as a dealer could, depending on the circumstances, result in the shareholder being deemed a participant in the distribution in a manner that could render the shareholder a statutory underwriter and subject to the prospectus delivery and liability provisions of the Securities Act. For example, a shareholder could be deemed a statutory underwriter if it purchases Creation Units from the Fund, breaks them down into the constituent Shares, and sells those Shares directly to customers, or if a shareholder chooses to couple the creation of a supply of new Shares with an active selling effort involving solicitation of secondary-market demand for Shares. Whether a person is an underwriter depends upon all of the facts and circumstances pertaining to that person’s activities, and the examples mentioned here should not be considered a complete description of all the activities that could cause you to be deemed an underwriter.
Dealers who are not “underwriters” but are participating in a distribution (as opposed to engaging in ordinary secondary-market transactions), and thus dealing with Shares as part of an “unsold allotment” within the meaning of Section 4(a)(3)(C) of the Securities Act, will be unable to take advantage of the prospectus delivery exemption provided by Section 4(a)(3) of the Securities Act.
Redemption. Shares may be redeemed only in Creation Units at their NAV next determined after receipt of a redemption request in proper form by the Fund through the Transfer Agent and only on a Business Day. EXCEPT UPON LIQUIDATION OF THE FUND, THE TRUST WILL NOT REDEEM SHARES IN AMOUNTS LESS THAN CREATION UNITS. Investors must accumulate enough Shares in the secondary market to constitute a Creation Unit to have such Shares redeemed by the Trust. There can be no assurance, however, that there will be sufficient liquidity in the public trading market at any time to permit assembly of a Creation Unit. Investors should expect to incur brokerage and other costs in connection with assembling a sufficient number of Shares to constitute a redeemable Creation Unit.
With respect to the Fund, the Custodian, through the NSCC, makes available prior to the opening of business on the Exchange (currently 9:30 a.m., Eastern Time) on each Business Day, the list of the names and Share quantities of the Fund’s portfolio securities that will be applicable (subject to possible amendment or correction) to redemption requests received in proper form (as defined below) on that day (“Fund Securities”). Fund Securities received on redemption may not be identical to Deposit Securities.
Redemption proceeds for a Creation Unit are paid either in-kind or in cash, or combination thereof, as determined by the Trust. With respect to in-kind redemptions of the Fund, redemption proceeds for a Creation Unit will consist of Fund Securities—as announced by the Custodian on the Business Day of the request for redemption received in proper form plus cash in an amount equal to the difference between the NAV of Shares being redeemed, as next determined after a receipt of a request in proper form, and the value of the Fund Securities (the “Cash Redemption Amount”), less a fixed redemption transaction fee, as applicable, as set forth below. In the event that the Fund Securities have a value greater than the NAV of Shares, a compensating cash payment equal to the differential is required to be made by or through an Authorized Participant by the redeeming shareholder. Notwithstanding the foregoing, at the Trust’s discretion, an Authorized Participant may receive the corresponding cash value of the securities in lieu of the in-kind securities value representing one or more Fund Securities.

Redemption Transaction Fee. A fixed redemption transaction fee, payable to the Fund’s custodian, may be imposed for the transfer and other transaction costs associated with the redemption of Creation Units (“Redemption Order Costs”). The standard fixed redemption transaction fee for the Fund, regardless of the number of Creation Units redeemed in the transaction, is $[ ]. The Fund may adjust the redemption transaction fee from time to time. The fixed redemption fee may be waived on certain orders if the Fund’s custodian has determined to waive some or all of the Redemption Order Costs associated with the order or another party, such as the Adviser, has agreed to pay such fee.
In addition, a variable fee, payable to the Fund, of up to a maximum of 2% of the value of the Creation Units subject to the transaction may be imposed for cash redemptions, non-standard orders, or partial cash redemptions (when cash redemptions are available) of Creation Units. The variable charge is primarily designed to cover additional costs (e.g., brokerage, taxes) involved with selling portfolio securities to satisfy a cash redemption. The Fund may determine to not charge a variable fee on certain orders when the Adviser has determined that doing so is in the best interests of Fund shareholders, e.g., for redemption orders that facilitate the rebalance of the Fund’s portfolio in a more tax efficient manner than could be achieved without such order.
Investors who use the services of a broker or other such intermediary may be charged a fee for such services. Investors are responsible for the fixed costs of transferring the Fund Securities from the Trust to their account or on their order.
Procedures for Redemption of Creation Units
Orders to redeem Creation Units of the Fund on the next Business Day must be submitted in proper form to the Transfer Agent as a “Future Dated Trade” for one or more Creation Units between 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time and 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time on the prior Business Day and in the manner set forth in the Participant Agreement and/or applicable order form. A redemption request is considered to be in “proper form” if (i) an Authorized Participant has transferred or caused to be transferred to the Trust’s Transfer Agent the Creation Unit(s) being redeemed through the book-entry system of DTC so as to be effective by the time as set forth in the Participant Agreement and (ii) a request in form satisfactory to the Trust is received by the Transfer Agent from the Authorized Participant on behalf of itself or another redeeming investor within the time periods specified in the Participant Agreement. If the Transfer Agent does not receive the investor’s Shares through DTC’s facilities by the times and pursuant to the other terms and conditions set forth in the Participant Agreement, the redemption request shall be rejected.
The Authorized Participant must transmit the request for redemption, in the form required by the Trust, to the Transfer Agent in accordance with procedures set forth in the Authorized Participant Agreement. Investors should be aware that their particular broker may not have executed an Authorized Participant Agreement, and that, therefore, requests to redeem Creation Units may have to be placed by the investor’s broker through an Authorized Participant who has executed an Authorized Participant Agreement. Investors making a redemption request should be aware that such request must be in the form specified by such Authorized Participant. Investors making a request to redeem Creation Units should allow sufficient time to permit proper submission of the request by an Authorized Participant and transfer of the Shares to the Trust’s Transfer Agent; such investors should allow for the additional time that may be required to effect redemptions through their banks, brokers or other financial intermediaries if such intermediaries are not Authorized Participants.
Additional Redemption Procedures. In connection with taking delivery of Shares of Fund Securities upon redemption of Creation Units, a redeeming shareholder or Authorized Participant acting on behalf of such shareholder must maintain appropriate custody arrangements with a qualified broker-dealer, bank, or other custody providers in each jurisdiction in which any of the Fund Securities are customarily traded, to which account such Fund Securities will be delivered. Deliveries of redemption proceeds generally will be made within two business days of the trade date.
However, due to the schedule of holidays in certain countries, the different treatment among foreign and U.S. markets of dividend record dates and dividend ex-dates (that is the last date the holder of a security can sell the security and still receive dividends payable on the security sold), and in certain other circumstances, the delivery of in-kind redemption proceeds with respect to the AAM S&P Emerging Markets High Dividend Value ETF may take longer than two Business Days after the day on which the redemption request is received in proper form. Appendix B identifies the instances where more than seven days would be needed to deliver redemption proceeds. Pursuant to an order of the SEC, on behalf of the Fund, the AAM S&P Emerging Markets High Dividend Value ETF will make delivery of in- kind redemption proceeds within the number of days stated in Appendix B to be the maximum number of days necessary to deliver redemption proceeds. If neither the redeeming Shareholder nor the Authorized Participant acting on behalf of such redeeming Shareholder has appropriate arrangements to take delivery of the Fund Securities in the applicable foreign jurisdiction and it is not possible to make other such arrangements, or if it is not possible to effect deliveries of the Fund Securities in such jurisdiction, the Trust may, in its discretion, exercise its option to redeem such Shares in cash, and the redeeming Shareholders will be required to receive its redemption proceeds in cash.
The Trust may in its discretion exercise its option to redeem such Shares in cash, and the redeeming investor will be required to receive its redemption proceeds in cash. In addition, an investor may request a redemption in cash that the Fund may, in its sole discretion, permit. In either case, the investor will receive a cash payment equal to the NAV of its Shares based on the NAV of Shares of the applicable Fund next determined after the redemption request is received in proper form (minus a redemption transaction fee, if applicable, and additional charge for requested cash redemptions specified above, to offset the Trust’s brokerage and other transaction costs associated with the disposition of Fund Securities). The Fund may also, in its sole discretion, upon request of a shareholder, provide such redeemer a portfolio of securities that differs from the exact composition of the Fund Securities but does not differ in NAV.
Redemptions of Shares for Fund Securities will be subject to compliance with applicable federal and state securities laws and the Fund (whether or not it otherwise permits cash redemptions) reserves the right to redeem Creation Units for cash to the extent that the Trust could not lawfully deliver specific Fund Securities upon redemptions or could not do so without first registering the Fund Securities under such laws. An Authorized Participant or an investor for which it is acting subject to a legal restriction with respect to a particular security included in the Fund Securities applicable to the redemption of Creation Units may be paid an equivalent amount of cash. The Authorized Participant may request the redeeming investor of the Shares to complete an order form or to enter into agreements with respect to such matters as compensating cash payment. Further, an Authorized Participant that is not a “qualified institutional buyer,” (“QIB”) as such term is defined under Rule 144A of the Securities Act, will not be able to receive Fund Securities that are restricted securities eligible for resale under Rule 144A. An Authorized Participant may be required by the Trust to provide a written confirmation with respect to QIB status to receive Fund Securities.
Because the portfolio securities of the Fund may trade on other exchanges on days that the Exchange is closed or are otherwise not Business Days for the Fund, shareholders may not be able to redeem their Shares, or to purchase or sell Shares on the Exchange, on days when the NAV of the Fund could be significantly affecting by events in the relevant foreign markets.
The right of redemption may be suspended or the date of payment postponed with respect to the Fund (1) for any period during which the Exchange is closed (other than customary weekend and holiday closings); (2) for any period during which trading on the Exchange is suspended or restricted; (3) for any period during which an emergency exists as a result of which disposal of the Shares of the Fund or determination of the NAV of the Shares is not reasonably practicable; or (4) in such other circumstance as is permitted by the SEC.
Determination of Net Asset Value
NAV per Share for the Fund is computed by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets less total liabilities) by the total number of Shares outstanding, rounded to the nearest cent. Expenses and fees, including the management fees, are accrued daily and taken into account for purposes of determining NAV. The NAV is calculated by the Custodian and determined at the scheduled close of the regular trading session on the NYSE (ordinarily 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time) on each day that the NYSE is open, provided that fixed-income assets may be valued as of the announced closing time for trading in fixed-income instruments on any day that the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (“SIFMA”) announces an early closing time.
In calculating the Fund’s NAV per Share, the Fund’s investments are generally valued using market valuations. A market valuation generally means a valuation (i) obtained from an exchange, a pricing service, or a major market maker (or dealer), (ii) based on a price quotation or other equivalent indication of value supplied by an exchange, a pricing service, or a major market maker (or dealer) or (iii) based on amortized cost. In the case of shares of other funds that are not traded on an exchange, a market valuation means such fund’s published NAV per share. The Fund may use various pricing services, or discontinue the use of any pricing service, as approved by the Board from time to time. A price obtained from a pricing service based on such pricing service’s valuation matrix may be considered a market valuation. Any assets or liabilities denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are converted into U.S. dollars at the current market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more sources.
Dividends and Distributions
The following information supplements and should be read in conjunction with the section in the Prospectus entitled “Dividends, Distributions and Taxes.”
General Policies. Dividends from net investment income, if any, are declared and paid at least annually by the Fund. Distributions of net realized securities gains, if any, generally are declared and paid once a year, but the Fund may make distributions on a more frequent basis to improve index tracking for the Fund or to comply with the distribution requirements of the Code, in all events in a manner consistent with the provisions of the 1940 Act.
Dividends and other distributions on Shares are distributed, as described below, on a pro rata basis to Beneficial Owners of such Shares. Dividend payments are made through DTC Participants and Indirect Participants to Beneficial Owners then of record with proceeds received from the Trust.
The Fund makes additional distributions to the extent necessary (i) to distribute the entire annual taxable income of the applicable Fund, plus any net capital gains and (ii) to avoid imposition of the excise tax imposed by Section 4982 of the Code. Management of the Trust reserves the right to declare special dividends if, in its reasonable discretion, such action is necessary or advisable to preserve the Fund’s eligibility for treatment as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income.
Dividend Reinvestment Service. The Trust will not make the DTC book-entry dividend reinvestment service available for use by Beneficial Owners for reinvestment of their cash proceeds, but certain individual broker-dealers may make available the DTC book-entry Dividend Reinvestment Service for use by Beneficial Owners of the Fund through DTC Participants for reinvestment of their dividend distributions. Investors should contact their brokers to ascertain the availability and description of these services. Beneficial Owners should be aware that each broker may require investors to adhere to specific procedures and timetables to participate in the dividend reinvestment service and investors should ascertain from their brokers such necessary details. If this service is available and used, dividend distributions of both income and realized gains will be automatically reinvested in additional whole Shares issued by the Trust of the applicable Fund at NAV per Share. Distributions reinvested in additional Shares will nevertheless be taxable to Beneficial Owners acquiring such additional Shares to the same extent as if such distributions had been received in cash.
Federal Income Taxes
The following is only a summary of certain U.S. federal income tax considerations generally affecting the Fund and its shareholders that supplements the discussion in the Prospectus. No attempt is made to present a comprehensive explanation of the federal, state, local or foreign tax treatment of the Fund or its shareholders, and the discussion here and in the Prospectus is not intended to be a substitute for careful tax planning.
The following general discussion of certain U.S. federal income tax consequences is based on provisions of the Code and the regulations issued thereunder as in effect on the date of this SAI. New legislation, as well as administrative changes or court decisions, may significantly change the conclusions expressed herein, and may have a retroactive effect with respect to the transactions contemplated herein.
The recently enacted tax legislation commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) makes significant changes to the U.S. federal income tax rules for taxation of individuals and corporations, generally effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017. Many of the changes applicable to individuals are temporary and would apply only to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2026. There are only minor changes with respect to the specific rules only applicable to a RIC, such as the Fund. The Tax Act, however, makes numerous other changes to the tax rules that may affect shareholders and the Fund. You are urged to consult with your own tax advisor regarding how the Tax Act affects your investment in the Fund.
Shareholders are urged to consult their own tax advisors regarding the application of the provisions of tax law described in this SAI in light of the particular tax situations of the shareholders and regarding specific questions as to federal, state, foreign or local taxes.
Taxation of the Fund. The Fund will elect and intends to qualify each year to be treated as a separate RIC under the Code. As such, the Fund should not be subject to federal income taxes on its net investment income and capital gains, if any, to the extent that it timely distributes such income and capital gains to its shareholders. To qualify for treatment as a RIC, the Fund must distribute annually to its shareholders at least the sum of 90% of its net investment income (generally including the excess of net short-term capital gains over net long-term capital losses) and 90% of its net tax-exempt interest income, if any (the “Distribution Requirement”) and also must meet several additional requirements. Among these requirements are the following: (i) at least 90% of the Fund’s gross income each taxable year must be derived from dividends, interest, payments with respect to certain securities loans, gains from the sale or other disposition of stock, securities or foreign currencies, or other income derived with respect to its business of investing in such stock, securities or foreign currencies and net income derived from interests in qualified publicly traded partnerships (the “Qualifying Income Requirement”); and (ii) at the end of each quarter of the Fund’s taxable year, the Fund’s assets must be diversified so that (a) at least 50% of the value of the Fund’s total assets is represented by cash and cash items, U.S. government securities, securities of other RICs, and other securities, with such other securities limited, in respect to any one issuer, to an amount not greater in value than 5% of the value of the Fund’s total assets and to not more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of such issuer, including the equity securities of a qualified publicly traded partnership, and (b) not more than 25% of the value of its total assets is invested, including through corporations in which the Fund owns a 20% or more voting stock interest, in the securities (other than U.S. government securities or securities of other RICs) of any one issuer, the securities (other than securities of other RICs) of two or more issuers which the Fund controls and which are engaged in the same, similar, or related trades or businesses, or the securities of one or more qualified publicly traded partnerships (the “Diversification Requirement”).
To the extent the Fund makes investments that may generate income that is not qualifying income, including certain derivatives, the Fund will seek to restrict the resulting income from such investments so that the Fund’s non-qualifying income does not exceed 10% of its gross income.
Although the Fund intends to distribute substantially all of its net investment income and may distribute its capital gains for any taxable year, the Fund will be subject to federal income taxation to the extent any such income or gains are not distributed. The Fund is treated as a separate corporation for federal income tax purposes. The Fund therefore is considered to be a separate entity in determining its treatment under the rules for RICs described herein. The requirements (other than certain organizational requirements) for qualifying RIC status are determined at the fund level rather than at the Trust level.
If the Fund fails to satisfy the Qualifying Income Requirement or the Diversification Requirement in any taxable year, the Fund may be eligible for relief provisions if the failures are due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect and if a penalty tax is paid with respect to each failure to satisfy the applicable requirements. Additionally, relief is provided for certain de minimis failures of the Diversification Requirement where the Fund corrects the failure within a specified period of time. To be eligible for the relief provisions with respect to a failure to meet the Diversification Requirement, the Fund may be required to dispose of certain assets. If these relief provisions were not available to the Fund and it were to fail to qualify for treatment as a RIC for a taxable year, all of its taxable income would be subject to tax at regular corporate rates (which the Tax Act reduced to 21%) without any deduction for distributions to shareholders, and its distributions (including capital gains distributions) generally would be taxable to the shareholders of the Fund as ordinary income dividends, subject to the dividends received deduction for corporate shareholders and the lower tax rates on qualified dividend income received by non- corporate shareholders, subject to certain limitations. To requalify for treatment as a RIC in a subsequent taxable year, the Fund would be required to satisfy the RIC qualification requirements for that year and to distribute any earnings and profits from any year in which the Fund failed to qualify for tax treatment as a RIC. If the Fund failed to qualify as a RIC for a period greater than two taxable years, it would generally be required to pay a Fund-level tax on certain net built in gains recognized with respect to certain of its assets upon a disposition of such assets within five years of qualifying as a RIC in a subsequent year. The Board reserves the right not to maintain the qualification of the Fund for treatment as a RIC if it determines such course of action to be beneficial to shareholders. If the Fund determines that it will not qualify as a RIC, the Fund will establish procedures to reflect the anticipated tax liability in the Fund’s NAV.
The Fund may elect to treat part or all of any “qualified late year loss” as if it had been incurred in the succeeding taxable year in determining the Fund’s taxable income, net capital gain, net short-term capital gain, and earnings and profits. The effect of this election is to treat any such “qualified late year loss” as if it had been incurred in the succeeding taxable year in characterizing Fund distributions for any calendar year. A “qualified late year loss” generally includes net capital loss, net long-term capital loss, or net short-term capital loss incurred after October 31 of the current taxable year (commonly referred to as “post-October losses”) and certain other late-year losses.
Capital losses in excess of capital gains (“net capital losses”) are not permitted to be deducted against a RIC’s net investment income. Instead, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, potentially subject to certain limitations, the Fund may carry a net capital loss from any taxable year forward indefinitely to offset its capital gains, if any, in years following the year of the loss. To the extent subsequent capital gains are offset by such losses, they will not result in U.S. federal income tax liability to the Fund and may not be distributed as capital gains to its shareholders. Generally, the Fund may not carry forward any losses other than net capital losses. The carryover of capital losses may be limited under the general loss limitation rules if the Fund experiences an ownership change as defined in the Code.
The Fund will be subject to a nondeductible 4% federal excise tax on certain undistributed income if it does not distribute to its shareholders in each calendar year an amount at least equal to 98% of its ordinary income for the calendar year plus 98.2% of its capital gain net income for the one-year period ending on October 31 of that year, subject to an increase for any shortfall in the prior year’s distribution. The Fund intends to declare and distribute dividends and distributions in the amounts and at the times necessary to avoid the application of the excise tax, but can make no assurances that all such tax liability will be eliminated.
If the Fund meets the Distribution Requirement but retains some or all of its income or gains, it will be subject to federal income tax to the extent any such income or gains are not distributed. The Fund may designate certain amounts retained as undistributed net capital gain in a notice to its shareholders, who (i) will be required to include in income for U.S. federal income tax purposes, as long-term capital gain, their proportionate shares of the undistributed amount so designated, (ii) will be entitled to credit their proportionate shares of the income tax paid by the Fund on that undistributed amount against their federal income tax liabilities and to claim refunds to the extent such credits exceed their tax liabilities, and (iii) will be entitled to increase their tax basis, for federal income tax purposes, in their Shares by an amount equal to the excess of the amount of undistributed net capital gain included in their respective income over their respective income tax credits.
Taxation of Shareholders – Distributions. The Fund intends to distribute annually to its shareholders substantially all of its investment company taxable income (computed without regard to the deduction for dividends paid), its net tax-exempt income, if any, and any net capital gain (net recognized long-term capital gains in excess of net recognized short-term capital losses, taking into account any capital loss carryforwards). The distribution of investment company taxable income (as so computed) and net realized capital gain will be taxable to Fund shareholders regardless of whether the shareholder receives these distributions in cash or reinvests them in additional Shares.
The Fund (or your broker) will report to shareholders annually the amounts of dividends paid from ordinary income, the amount of distributions of net capital gain, the portion of dividends which may qualify for the dividends received deduction for corporations, and the portion of dividends which may qualify for treatment as qualified dividend income, which is taxable to non-corporate shareholders at rates of up to 20%.
Distributions from the Fund’s net capital gain will be taxable to shareholders at long-term capital gains rates, regardless of how long shareholders have held their Shares.
Qualified dividend income includes, in general, subject to certain holding period and other requirements, dividend income from taxable domestic corporations and certain foreign corporations. Subject to certain limitations, eligible foreign corporations include those incorporated in possessions of the United States, those incorporated in certain countries with comprehensive tax treaties with the United States, and other foreign corporations if the stock with respect to which the dividends are paid is readily tradable on an established securities market in the United States. Dividends received by the Fund from an ETF or an underlying fund taxable as a RIC or a REIT may be treated as qualified dividend income generally only to the extent so reported by such ETF, underlying fund or REIT. If 95% or more of the Fund’s gross income (calculated without taking into account net capital gain derived from sales or other dispositions of stock or securities) consists of qualified dividend income, the Fund may report all distributions of such income as qualified dividend income.
Fund dividends will not be treated as qualified dividend income if the Fund does not meet holding period and other requirements with respect to dividend paying stocks in its portfolio, and the shareholder does not meet holding period and other requirements with respect to the Shares on which the dividends were paid. Distributions by the Fund of its net short-term capital gains will be taxable as ordinary income. Distributions from the Fund’s net capital gain will be taxable to shareholders at long-term capital gains rates, regardless of how long shareholders have held their Shares. Distributions may be subject to state and local taxes.
In the case of corporate shareholders, certain dividends received by the Fund from U.S. corporations (generally, dividends received by the Fund in respect of any share of stock (1) with a tax holding period of at least 46 days during the 91-day period beginning on the date that is 45 days before the date on which the stock becomes ex-dividend as to that dividend and (2) that is held in an unleveraged position) and distributed and appropriately so reported by the Fund may be eligible for the 70% dividends-received deduction. Certain preferred stock must have a holding period of at least 91 days during the 181-day period beginning on the date that is 90 days before the date on which the stock becomes ex-dividend as to that dividend to be eligible. Capital gain dividends distributed to the Fund from other RICs are not eligible for the dividends-received deduction. To qualify for the deduction, corporate shareholders must meet the minimum holding period requirement stated above with respect to their Shares, taking into account any holding period reductions from certain hedging or other transactions or positions that diminish their risk of loss with respect to their Shares, and, if they borrow to acquire or otherwise incur debt attributable to Shares, they may be denied a portion of the dividends-received deduction with respect to those Shares.
Although dividends generally will be treated as distributed when paid, any dividend declared by the Fund in October, November or December and payable to shareholders of record in such a month that is paid during the following January will be treated for U.S. federal income tax purposes as received by shareholders on December 31 of the calendar year in which it was declared.
U.S. individuals with adjusted gross income (subject to certain adjustments) exceeding certain threshold amounts ($250,000 if married filing jointly or if considered a “surviving spouse” for federal income tax purposes, $125,000 if married filing separately, and $200,000 in other cases) are subject to a 3.8% Medicare contribution tax on all or a portion of their “net investment income,” which includes taxable interest, dividends, and certain capital gains (generally including capital gain distributions and capital gains realized on the sale of Shares). This 3.8% tax also applies to all or a portion of the undistributed net investment income of certain shareholders that are estates and trusts.
Shareholders who have not held Shares for a full year should be aware that the Fund may report and distribute, as ordinary dividends or capital gain dividends, a percentage of income that is not equal to the percentage of the Fund’s ordinary income or net capital gain, respectively, actually earned during the applicable shareholder’s period of investment in the Fund. A taxable shareholder may wish to avoid investing in the Fund shortly before a dividend or other distribution, because the distribution will generally be taxable even though it may economically represent a return of a portion of the shareholder’s investment.
To the extent that the Fund makes a distribution of income received by the Fund in lieu of dividends (a “substitute payment”) with respect to securities on loan pursuant to a securities lending transaction, such income will not constitute qualified dividend income to individual shareholders and will not be eligible for the dividends received deduction for corporate shareholders
If the Fund’s distributions exceed its earnings and profits, all or a portion of the distributions made for a taxable year may be recharacterized as a return of capital to shareholders. A return of capital distribution will generally not be taxable, but will reduce each shareholder’s cost basis in the Fund and result in a higher capital gain or lower capital loss when the Shares on which the distribution was received are sold. After a shareholder’s basis in the Shares has been reduced to zero, distributions in excess of earnings and profits will be treated as gain from the sale of the shareholder’s Shares.
Taxation of Shareholders – Sale of Shares. A sale, redemption, or exchange of Shares may give rise to a gain or loss. In general, any gain or loss realized upon a taxable disposition of Shares will be treated as long-term capital gain or loss if Shares have been held for more than 12 months. Otherwise, the gain or loss on the taxable disposition of Shares will generally be treated as short-term capital gain or loss. Any loss realized upon a taxable disposition of Shares held for six months or less will be treated as long-term capital loss, rather than short-term capital loss, to the extent of any amounts treated as distributions to the shareholder of long-term capital gain (including any amounts credited to the shareholder as undistributed capital gains). All or a portion of any loss realized upon a taxable disposition of Shares may be disallowed if substantially identical Shares are acquired (through the reinvestment of dividends or otherwise) within a 61-day period beginning 30 days before and ending 30 days after the disposition. In such a case, the basis of the newly acquired Shares will be adjusted to reflect the disallowed loss.
The cost basis of Shares acquired by purchase will generally be based on the amount paid for Shares and then may be subsequently adjusted for other applicable transactions as required by the Code. The difference between the selling price and the cost basis of Shares generally determines the amount of the capital gain or loss realized on the sale or exchange of Shares. Contact the broker through whom you purchased your Shares to obtain information with respect to the available cost basis reporting methods and elections for your account.
An Authorized Participant who exchanges securities for Creation Units generally will recognize a gain or a loss. The gain or loss will be equal to the difference between the market value of the Creation Units at the time and the sum of the exchanger’s aggregate basis in the securities surrendered plus the amount of cash paid for such Creation Units. A person who redeems Creation Units will generally recognize a gain or loss equal to the difference between the exchanger’s basis in the Creation Units and the sum of the aggregate market value of any securities received plus the amount of any cash received for such Creation Units. The Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”), however, may assert that a loss realized upon an exchange of securities for Creation Units cannot currently be deducted under the rules governing “wash sales” (for a person who does not mark-to-market its portfolio) or on the basis that there has been no significant change in economic position.
Any capital gain or loss realized upon the creation of Creation Units will generally be treated as long-term capital gain or loss if the securities exchanged for such Creation Units have been held for more than one year. Any capital gain or loss realized upon the redemption of Creation Units will generally be treated as long-term capital gain or loss if Shares comprising the Creation Units have been held for more than one year. Otherwise, such capital gains or losses will generally be treated as short-term capital gains or losses. Any loss upon a redemption of Creation Units held for six months or less may be treated as long-term capital loss to the extent of any amounts treated as distributions to the applicable Authorized Participant of long-term capital gain with respect to the Creation Units (including any amounts credited to the Authorized Participant as undistributed capital gains).
The Trust, on behalf of the Fund, has the right to reject an order for Creation Units if the purchaser (or a group of purchasers) would, upon obtaining the Creation Units so ordered, own 80% or more of the outstanding Shares and if, pursuant to Section 351 of the Code, the Fund would have a basis in the deposit securities different from the market value of such securities on the date of deposit. The Trust also has the right to require the provision of information necessary to determine beneficial Share ownership for purposes of the 80% determination. If the Fund does issue Creation Units to a purchaser (or a group of purchasers) that would, upon obtaining the Creation Units so ordered, own 80% or more of the outstanding Shares, the purchaser (or a group of purchasers) will not recognize gain or loss upon the exchange of securities for Creation Units.
Persons purchasing or redeeming Creation Units should consult their own tax advisers with respect to the tax treatment of any creation or redemption transaction and whether the wash sales rule applies and when a loss may be deductible.
Taxation of Fund Investments. Certain of the Fund’s investments may be subject to complex provisions of the Code (including provisions relating to hedging transactions, straddles, integrated transactions, foreign currency contracts, forward foreign currency contracts, and notional principal contracts) that, among other things, may affect the Fund’s ability to qualify as a RIC, may affect the character of gains and losses realized by the Fund (e.g., may affect whether gains or losses are ordinary or capital), accelerate recognition of income to the Fund and defer losses. These rules could therefore affect the character, amount and timing of distributions to shareholders. These provisions also may require the Fund to mark to market certain types of positions in its portfolio (i.e., treat them as if they were closed out) which may cause the Fund to recognize income without the Fund receiving cash with which to make distributions in amounts sufficient to enable the Fund to satisfy the RIC distribution requirements for avoiding income and excise taxes. The Fund intends to monitor its transactions, intends to make appropriate tax elections, and intends to make appropriate entries in its books and records in order to mitigate the effect of these rules and preserve the Fund’s qualification for treatment as a RIC. To the extent the Fund invests in an underlying fund that is taxable as a RIC, the rules applicable to the tax treatment of complex securities will also apply to the underlying funds that also invest in such complex securities and investments.
The Fund is required for federal income tax purposes to mark-to-market and recognize as income for each taxable year its net unrealized gains and losses on certain futures and options contracts as of the end of the year as well as those actually realized during the year. Gain or loss from futures and options contracts on broad-based indexes required to be marked to market will be 60% long-term and 40% short-term capital gain or loss. Application of this rule may alter the timing and character of distributions to shareholders. The Fund may be required to defer the recognition of losses on futures contracts, options contracts and swaps to the extent of any unrecognized gains on offsetting positions held by the Fund. These provisions may also require the Fund to mark-to-market certain types of positions in its portfolio (i.e., treat them as if they were closed out), which may cause the Fund to recognize income without receiving cash with which to make distributions in amounts necessary to satisfy the distribution requirement and for avoiding the excise tax discussed above. Accordingly, to avoid certain income and excise taxes, the Fund may be required to liquidate its investments at a time when the investment adviser might not otherwise have chosen to do so.
Foreign Investments. Dividends and interest received by the Fund from sources within foreign countries may be subject to withholding and other taxes imposed by such countries. Tax treaties between certain countries and the U.S. may reduce or eliminate such taxes. The Fund does not expect to satisfy the requirements for passing through to its shareholders any share of foreign taxes paid by the Fund, with the result that shareholders will not include such taxes in their gross incomes and will not be entitled to a tax deduction or credit for such taxes on their own tax returns.
If more than 50% of the value of the Fund’s assets at the close of any taxable year consists of stock or securities of foreign corporations, which for this purpose may include obligations of foreign governmental issuers, the Fund may elect, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, to treat any foreign income or withholding taxes paid by the Fund as paid by its shareholders. For any year that the Fund is eligible for and makes such an election, each shareholder of the Fund will be required to include in income an amount equal to his or her allocable share of qualified foreign income taxes paid by the Fund, and shareholders will be entitled, subject to certain holding period requirements and other limitations, to credit their portions of these amounts against their U.S. federal income tax due, if any, or to deduct their portions from their U.S. taxable income, if any. No deductions for foreign taxes paid by the Fund may be claimed, however, by non- corporate shareholders who do not itemize deductions. No deduction for such taxes will be permitted to individuals in computing their alternative minimum tax liability. Foreign taxes paid by the Fund will reduce the return from the Fund’s investments.
If the Fund holds shares in a “passive foreign investment company” (“PFIC”), it may be subject to U.S. federal income tax on a portion of any “excess distribution” or gain from the disposition of such shares even if such income is distributed as a taxable dividend by the Fund to its shareholders. Additional charges in the nature of interest may be imposed on the Fund in respect of deferred taxes arising from such distributions or gains.
The Fund may be eligible to treat a PFIC as a “qualified electing fund” under the Code in which case, in lieu of the foregoing requirements, the Fund will be required to include in income each year a portion of the ordinary earnings and net capital gains of the qualified electing fund, even if not distributed to the Fund, and such amounts will be subject to the 90% and excise tax distribution requirements described above. In order to make this election, the Fund would be required to obtain certain annual information from the PFICs in which it invests, which may be difficult or impossible to obtain. Alternatively, the Fund may make a mark-to-market election that will result in such Fund being treated as if it had sold and repurchased its PFIC stock at the end of each year. In such case, the Fund would report any gains resulting from such deemed sales as ordinary income and would deduct any losses resulting from such deemed sales as ordinary losses to the extent of previously recognized gains. The election must be made separately for each PFIC owned by the Fund and, once made, is effective for all subsequent taxable years, unless revoked with the consent of the IRS. By making the election, the Fund could potentially ameliorate the adverse tax consequences with respect to its ownership of shares in a PFIC, but in any particular year may be required to recognize income in excess of the distributions it receives from PFICs and its proceeds from dispositions of PFIC stock. The Fund may have to distribute this excess income to satisfy the 90% distribution requirement and to avoid imposition of the 4% excise tax. In order to distribute this income and avoid a tax at the fund level, the Fund might be required to liquidate portfolio securities that it might otherwise have continued to hold, potentially resulting in additional taxable gain or loss.
Backup Withholding. The Fund will be required in certain cases to withhold (as “backup withholding”) on amounts payable to any shareholder who (1) fails to provide a correct taxpayer identification number certified under penalty of perjury; (2) is subject to backup withholding by the IRS for failure to properly report all payments of interest or dividends; (3) fails to provide a certified statement that he or she is not subject to “backup withholding”; or (4) fails to provide a certified statement that he or she is a U.S. person (including a
U.S. resident alien). The backup withholding rate is 28%. Backup withholding is not an additional tax and any amounts withheld may be credited against the shareholder’s ultimate U.S. tax liability. Backup withholding will not be applied to payments that have been subject to the 30% withholding tax on shareholders who are neither citizens nor permanent residents of the U.S.
Non-U.S. Shareholders. Any non-U.S. investors in the Fund may be subject to U.S. withholding and estate tax and are encouraged to consult their tax advisors prior to investing in the Fund. Foreign shareholders (i.e., nonresident alien individuals and foreign corporations, partnerships, trusts and estates) are generally subject to U.S. withholding tax at the rate of 30% (or a lower tax treaty rate) on distributions derived from taxable ordinary income. The Fund may, under certain circumstances, report all or a portion of a dividend as an “interest-related dividend” or a “short-term capital gain dividend,” which would generally be exempt from this 30% U.S. withholding tax, provided certain other requirements are met. Short-term capital gain dividends received by a nonresident alien individual who is present in the U.S. for a period or periods aggregating 183 days or more during the taxable year are not exempt from this 30% withholding tax. Gains realized by foreign shareholders from the sale or other disposition of shares of the Fund generally are not subject to U.S. taxation, unless the recipient is an individual who is physically present in the U.S. for 183 days or more per year. Foreign shareholders who fail to provide an applicable IRS form may be subject to backup withholding on certain payments from the Fund. Backup withholding will not be applied to payments that are subject to the 30% (or lower applicable treaty rate) withholding tax described in this paragraph. Different tax consequences may result if the foreign shareholder is engaged in a trade or business within the United States. In addition, the tax consequences to a foreign shareholder entitled to claim the benefits of a tax treaty may be different than those described above.
Unless certain non-U.S. entities that hold Shares comply with IRS requirements that will generally require them to report information regarding U.S. persons investing in, or holding accounts with, such entities, a 30% withholding tax may apply to Fund distributions payable to such entities and with respect to redemptions and certain capital gain dividends payable to such entities after December 31, 2018. A non-U.S. shareholder may be exempt from the withholding described in this paragraph under an applicable intergovernmental agreement between the U.S. and a foreign government, provided that the shareholder and the applicable foreign government comply with the terms of the agreement.
For foreign shareholders to qualify for an exemption from backup withholding, described above, the foreign shareholder must comply with special certification and filing requirements. Foreign shareholders in the Fund should consult their tax advisors in this regard.
Tax-Exempt Shareholders. Certain tax-exempt shareholders, including qualified pension plans, individual retirement accounts, salary deferral arrangements, 401(k) plans, and other tax-exempt entities, generally are exempt from federal income taxation except with respect to their unrelated business taxable income (“UBTI”). Under the Tax Act, tax-exempt entities are not permitted to offset losses from one unrelated trade or business against the income or gain of another unrelated trade or business.  Certain net losses incurred prior to January 1, 2018 are permitted to offset gain and income created by an unrelated trade or business, if otherwise available. Under current law, the Fund generally serves to block UBTI from being realized by its tax-exempt shareholders with respect to their shares of Fund income. However, notwithstanding the foregoing, tax-exempt shareholders could realize UBTI by virtue of their investment in the Fund if, for example, (i) the Fund invests in residual interests of Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits (“REMICs”), (ii) the Fund invests in a REIT that is a taxable mortgage pool (“TMP”) or that has a subsidiary that is a TMP or that invests in the residual interest of a REMIC, or (iii) Shares constitute debt-financed property in the hands of the tax-exempt shareholders within the meaning of section 514(b) of the Code. Charitable remainder trusts are subject to special rules and should consult their tax advisers. The IRS has issued guidance with respect to these issues and prospective shareholders, especially charitable remainder trusts, are strongly encouraged to consult with their tax advisers regarding these issues.
Certain Potential Tax Reporting Requirements. Under U.S. Treasury regulations, if a shareholder recognizes a loss on disposition of Shares of $2 million or more for an individual shareholder or $10 million or more for a corporate shareholder (or certain greater amounts over a combination of years), the shareholder must file with the IRS a disclosure statement on IRS Form 8886. Direct shareholders of portfolio securities are in many cases excepted from this reporting requirement, but under current guidance, shareholders of a RIC are not excepted. Significant penalties may be imposed for the failure to comply with the reporting requirements. The fact that a loss is reportable under these regulations does not affect the legal determination of whether the taxpayer’s treatment of the loss is proper. Shareholders should consult their tax advisors to determine the applicability of these regulations in light of their individual circumstances.
Additional Tax Information Concerning REITs. The Fund may invest in entities treated as REITs for U.S. federal income tax purposes. The Fund’s investments in REIT equity securities may at times result in the applicable Fund’s receipt of cash in excess of the REIT’s earnings; if the Fund distributes these amounts, these distributions could constitute a return of capital to Fund shareholders for federal income tax purposes. Dividends received by the Fund from a REIT, generally will not constitute qualified dividend income.
Other Issues. In those states which have income tax laws, the tax treatment of the Fund and of Fund shareholders with respect to distributions by the Fund may differ from federal tax treatment.
Financial Statements
Financial Statements and Annual Reports will be available after the Fund has completed a fiscal year of operations. When available, you may request a copy of the Fund’s Annual Report at no charge by calling 1-800-617-0004 or through the Fund’s website at https://www.aamlive.com/ETF.
Additional Notices
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Appendix A
 
 
2018
PROXY PAPER™
 
GUIDELINES
 
AN OVERVIEW OF THE GLASS LEWIS APPROACH TO PROXY ADVICE
 

 
UNITED STATES




Table of Contents

 
   
GUIDELINES INTRODUCTION
1
Summary of Changes for the 2018 United States Policy Guidelines
1
   
A BOARD OF DIRECTORS THAT SERVES THE INTERESTS OF SHAREHOLDERS
3
Election of Directors
3
Independence
3
Voting Recommendations on the Basis of Board Independence
5
Committee Independence
5
Independent Chair
5
Performance
6
Voting Recommendations on the Basis of Performance
7
Board Responsiveness
7
The Role of a Committee Chair
8
Audit Committees and Performance
9
Standards for Assessing the Audit Committee
9
Compensation Committee Performance
11
Nominating and Governance Committee Performance
13
Board-Level Risk Management Oversight
15
Environmental and Social Risk Oversight
16
Director Commitments
16
Other Considerations
17
Controlled Companies
18
Significant Shareholders
19
Governance Following an IPO or Spin-Off
19
Dual-Listed or Foreign Incorporated Companies
20
Mutual Fund Boards
20
Declassified Boards
21
Board Composition and Refreshment
22
Board Gender Diversity
22
Proxy Access
23
Majority Vote for the Election of Directors
23
The Plurality Vote Standard
23
Advantages of a Majority Vote Standard
24
Conflicting Proposals
24

i

TRANSPARENCY AND  INTEGRITY IN FINANCIAL REPORTING
25
Auditor Ratification
25
Voting Recommendations on Auditor Ratification
25
Pension Accounting Issues
26
   
THE LINK BETWEEN  COMPENSATION AND PERFORMANCE
27
Advisory Vote on Executive Compensation (“Say-on-Pay”)
27
Say-on-Pay Voting Recommendations
28
Company Responsiveness
29
Pay for Performance
29
Short-Term Incentives
30
Long-Term Incentives
30
Transitional and One-Off Awards
31
Recoupment Provisions (“Clawbacks”)
32
Hedging of Stock
32
Pledging of Stock
32
Compensation Consultant Independence
33
CEO Pay Ratio
33
Frequency of Say-on-Pay
34
Vote on Golden Parachute Arrangements
34
Equity-Based Compensation Plan Proposals
34
Option Exchanges
35
Option Backdating, Spring-Loading and Bullet-Dodging
36
Director Compensation Plans
37
Employee Stock Purchase Plans
37
Executive Compensation Tax Deductibility (IRS 162(m) Compliance)
37
   
GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE  AND THE SHAREHOLDER FRANCHISE
39
Anti-Takeover Measures
39
Poison Pills (Shareholder Rights Plans)
39
NOL Poison Pills
40
Fair Price Provisions
40
Reincorporation
41
Exclusive Forum and Fee-Shifting Bylaw Provisions
41
Authorized Shares
42
Advance Notice Requirements
43
Virtual Shareholder Meetings
43
Voting Structure
44
Dual-Class Share Structures
44

ii

Cumulative Voting
44
Supermajority Vote Requirements
45
Transaction of Other Business
45
Anti-Greenmail Proposals
45
Mutual Funds: Investment Policies and Advisory Agreements
45
Real Estate Investment Trusts
46
Preferred Stock Issuances at REITs
46
Business Development Companies
46
Authorization to Sell Shares at a Price Below Net Asset Value
47
   
COMPENSATION, ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND GOVERNANCE SHAREHOLDER INITIATIVES
48
iii

Guidelines Introduction


Glass Lewis evaluates these guidelines on an ongoing basis and formally updates them on an annual basis. This year we’ve made noteworthy revisions in the following areas, which are summarized below but discussed in greater detail in the relevant section of this document:
 
SUMMARY OF CHANGES FOR THE 2018 UNITED STATES POLICY GUIDELINES
 
BOARD GENDER DIVERSITY

We have added a discussion of how Glass Lewis considers gender diversity on boards of directors. As with previous years, Glass Lewis will continue to closely review the composition of the board and may note as a concern instances where we believe the board lacks representation of diverse director candidates, including those boards which have no female directors.

In 2018, we will not make voting recommendations solely on the basis of the diversity of the board; rather, it will be one of many considerations we make when evaluating companies’ oversight structures. Beginning in 2019, however, Glass Lewis will generally recommend voting against the nominating committee chair of a board that has no female members. Depending on other factors, including the size of the company, the industry in which the company operates and the governance profile of the company, we may extend this recommendation to vote against other nominating committee members. Also, when making these voting recommendations, we will carefully review a company’s disclosure of its diversity considerations and may refrain from recommending shareholders vote against directors of companies outside the Russell 3000 index, or when boards have provided a sufficient rationale for not having any female board members, or have disclosed a plan to address the lack of diversity on the board.
 
DUAL-CLASS SHARE STRUCTURES
 
We have added a discussion of how Glass Lewis considers dual-class share structures when analyzing a company’s governance. Glass Lewis believes dual-class voting structures are typically not in the best interests of common shareholders and that allowing one vote per share generally operates as a safeguard for common shareholders by ensuring that those who hold a significant minority of shares are able to weigh in on issues set forth by the board.
 
With regards to our evaluation of corporate governance following an IPO or spin-off within the past year, we have not changed our general approach; however, we will now include the presence of dual-class share structures  as an additional factor in determining whether shareholder rights are being severely restricted indefinitely.
 
BOARD RESPONSIVENESS
 
In light of evolving investor sentiment, we have clarified that we consider that the board generally has an imperative to respond to shareholder dissent from a proposal at an annual meeting of more than 20% of votes cast — particularly in the case of a compensation or director election  proposal.

With regards to companies where voting control is held through a dual-class share structure with dispropor- tionate voting and economic rights, we will carefully examine the level of approval or disapproval attributed to unaffiliated shareholders when determining whether board responsiveness is warranted. Where vote results indicate that a majority of unaffiliated shareholders supported a shareholder proposal or opposed a manage- ment proposal, we believe the board should demonstrate an appropriate level of responsiveness.
1

VIRTUAL SHAREHOLDER MEETINGS
 
Glass Lewis is aware that a relatively small but growing contingent of companies have elected to hold shareholder meetings by virtual means only. We believe that virtual meeting technology can be a useful complement to a traditional, in-person shareholder meeting by expanding participation of shareholders who are unable to attend a shareholder meeting in person (i.e. a “hybrid meeting”). However,  we  also believe    that virtual-only meetings have the potential to curb the ability of a company’s shareholders to meaningfully communicate with the company’s management.

In 2018, we will not make voting recommendations solely on the basis that a company is holding a virtual-only meeting. When analyzing the governance profile of companies that choose to hold virtual-only meetings, we look for robust disclosure in a company’s proxy statement which assures shareholders that they will be afforded the same rights and opportunities to participate as they would at an in-person meeting. Beginning in 2019, however, Glass Lewis will generally recommend voting against members of the governance committee of a board where the board is planning to hold a virtual-only shareholder meeting and the company does not provide such disclosure.
 
DIRECTOR COMMITMENTS
 
While there is no change to our director overboarding policy, we have clarified our approach to evaluating outside commitments of directors who serve in executive roles other than CEO (e.g., executive chair). When determining whether to apply our limit of two total board memberships for public executives, we will evaluate the specific duties and responsibilities of their executive role in addition to the company’s disclosure regarding that director’s time commitments.
 
CEO PAY  RATIO
 
We have added a discussion of the CEO Pay Ratio disclosure required beginning in 2018. Glass Lewis will display the pay ratio as a data point in our Proxy Papers, as available. While we believe the pay ratio has the potential to provide additional insight when assessing a company’s pay practices, at this time it will not be a determinative factor in our voting recommendations.
 
PAY FOR PERFORMANCE
 
While there is no change to our pay-for-performance model, we have added clarification regarding the Glass Lewis grading system. Consistent with previous years, our pay-for-performance grades guide our evaluation of compensation committee effectiveness, and we generally recommend voting against compensation committee members at companies with a pattern of failing our pay-for-performance analysis. Unlike a school letter grade, however, a “C” does not indicate a significant lapse; rather, a “C” in the Glass Lewis grade system identifies companies where the pay and performance percentile rankings relative to peers are generally aligned.
2

A Board of Directors that Serves the Interests of Shareholders


ELECTION OF DIRECTORS
 
The purpose of Glass Lewis’ proxy research and advice is to facilitate shareholder voting in favor of governance structures that will drive performance, create shareholder value and maintain a proper tone at the top. Glass Lewis looks for talented boards with a record of protecting shareholders and delivering value over the medium- and long-term. We believe that a board can best protect and enhance the interests of shareholders if it is sufficiently independent, has a record of positive performance, and consists of individuals with diverse backgrounds and a breadth and depth of relevant experience.
 
INDEPENDENCE

The independence of directors, or lack thereof, is ultimately demonstrated through the decisions they make. In assessing the independence of directors, we will take into consideration, when appropriate, whether a director has a track record indicative of making objective decisions. Likewise, when assessing the independence of directors we will also examine when a director’s track record on multiple boards indicates a lack of objective decision-making. Ultimately, we believe the determination of whether a director is independent or not must take into consideration both compliance with the applicable independence listing requirements as well as judgments made by the director.

We look at each director nominee to examine the director’s relationships with the company, the company’s executives, and other directors. We do this to evaluate whether personal, familial, or financial relationships (not including director compensation) may impact the director’s decisions. We believe that such relationships make it difficult for a director to put shareholders’ interests above the director’s or the related party’s interests. We also believe that a director who owns more than 20% of a company can exert disproportionate influence on the board, and therefore believe such a director’s independence may be hampered, in particular when serving on the audit committee.

Thus, we  put directors into three categories based on an examination of the type of relationship they have with the company:

Independent Director — An independent director has no material financial, familial or other current relationships with the company, its executives, or other board members, except for board service and standard fees paid for that service. Relationships that existed within three to five years1 before the inquiry are usually considered “current” for purposes of this test.
 
Affiliated Director — An affiliated director has, (or within the past three years, had) a material financial, familial or other relationship with the company or its executives, but is not an employee of the company.2 This includes directors whose employers have a material financial relationship with the company.3 In addition, we view a director who either owns or controls 20% or more of the company’s voting stock, or is an employee or affiliate of an entity that controls such amount, as an affiliate.4
 

1  NASDAQ originally proposed a five-year look-back period but both it and the NYSE ultimately settled on a three-year look-back prior to finalizing their rules. A five-year standard is more appropriate, in our view, because we believe that the unwinding of conflicting relationships between former management and board members is more likely to be complete and final after five years. However, Glass Lewis does not apply the five-year look-back period to directors who have previously served as executives of the company on an interim basis for less than one year.
2  If a company does not consider a non-employee director to be independent, Glass Lewis will classify that director as an affiliate.

3

We view 20% shareholders as affiliates because they typically have access to and involvement with the management of a company that is fundamentally different from that of ordinary shareholders. More importantly, 20% holders may have interests that diverge from those of ordinary holders, for reasons such as the liquidity (or lack thereof) of their holdings, personal tax issues, etc.
 
Glass Lewis applies a three-year look back period to all directors who have an affiliation with the company other than former employment, for which we apply a five-year look   back.
 
Definition of “Material”: A material relationship is one in which the dollar value exceeds:

$50,000 (or where no amount is disclosed) for directors who are paid for a service they have agreed to perform for the company, outside of their service as a director, including professional or other services; or

$120,000 (or where no amount is disclosed) for those directors employed by a professional services firm such as a law firm, investment bank, or consulting firm and the company pays the firm, not the individual, for services.5 This dollar limit would also apply to charitable contributions to schools where a board member is a professor; or charities where a director serves on the board or is an executive;6 and any aircraft and real estate dealings between the company and the director’s firm; or

1% of either company’s consolidated gross revenue for other business relationships (e.g., where the director is an executive officer of a company that provides services or products to or receives services or products from the company).7

Definition of “Familial” — Familial relationships include a person’s spouse, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and anyone (other than domestic employees) who shares such person’s home. A director is an affiliate if: i) he or she has a family member who is employed by the company and receives more than $120,000 in annual compensation; or, ii) he or she has a family member who is employed by the company and the company does not disclose this individual’s compensation.
 
Definition of “Company” — A company includes any parent or subsidiary in a group with the company or any entity that merged with, was acquired by, or acquired the company.
 
Inside Director — An inside director simultaneously serves as a director and as an employee of the company. This category may include a board chair who acts as an employee of the company or is paid as an employee of the company. In our view, an inside director who derives a greater amount of income as a result of affiliated transactions with the company rather than through compensation paid by the company (i.e., salary, bonus, etc. as a company employee) faces a conflict between making decisions that are in the best interests of the company versus those in the director’s own best interests. Therefore, we will recommend voting against such a director.
 

3  We allow a five-year grace period for former executives of the company or merged companies who have consulting agreements with the surviving company. (We do not automatically recommend voting against directors in such cases for the first five years.) If the consulting agreement persists after this five-year grace period, we apply the materiality thresholds outlined in the definition of “material.”
4  This includes a director who serves on a board as a representative (as part of his or her basic responsibilities) of an investment firm with greater than 20% ownership. However, while we will generally consider him/her to be affiliated, we will not recommend voting against unless (i) the investment firm has disproportionate board representation or (ii) the director serves on the audit committee.
5  We may deem such a transaction to be immaterial where the amount represents less than 1% of the firm’s annual revenues and the board provides a compelling rationale as to why the director’s independence is not affected by the relationship.
6  We will generally take into consideration the size and nature of such charitable entities in relation to the company’s size and industry along with any other relevant factors such as the director’s role at the charity. However, unlike for other types of related party transactions, Glass Lewis generally does not apply a look-back period to affiliated relationships involving charitable contributions; if the relationship between the director and the school or charity ceases, or if the company discontinues its donations to the entity, we will consider the director to be independent.
7  This includes cases where a director is employed by, or closely affiliated with, a private equity firm that profits from an acquisition made by the company. Unless disclosure suggests otherwise, we presume the director is affiliated.

4

Additionally, we believe a director who is currently serving in an interim management position should be considered an insider, while a director who previously served in an interim management position for less than one year and is no longer serving in such capacity is considered independent. Moreover, a director who previously served in an interim management position for over one year and is no longer serving in such capacity is considered an affiliate for five years following the date of his/her resignation or departure from the interim  management position.
 
VOTING RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE BASIS OF BOARD INDEPENDENCE
 
Glass Lewis believes a board will be most effective in protecting shareholders’ interests if it is at least two- thirds independent. We note that each of the Business Roundtable, the Conference Board, and the Council of Institutional Investors advocates that two-thirds of the board be independent. Where more than one-third of the members are affiliated or inside directors, we typically8 recommend voting against some of the inside and/ or affiliated directors in order to satisfy the two-thirds threshold.
 
In the case of a less than two-thirds independent board, Glass Lewis strongly supports the existence of a presiding or lead director with authority to set the meeting agendas and to lead sessions outside the insider chair’s presence.

In addition, we scrutinize avowedly “independent” chairs and lead directors. We believe that they should be unquestionably independent or the company should not tout them as such.
 
COMMITTEE INDEPENDENCE
 
We believe that only independent directors should serve on a company’s audit, compensation, nominating, and governance committees.9 We typically recommend that shareholders vote against any affiliated or inside director seeking appointment to an audit, compensation, nominating, or governance committee, or who has served in that capacity in the past year.
 
Pursuant to Section 952 of the Dodd-Frank Act, as of January 11, 2013, the SEC approved new listing require- ments for both the NYSE and NASDAQ which require that boards apply enhanced standards of independence when making an affirmative determination of the independence of compensation committee members. Specifically, when making this determination, in addition to the factors considered when assessing general director independence, the board’s considerations must include: (i) the source of compensation of the director, including any consulting, advisory or other compensatory fee paid by the listed company to the director (the “Fees Factor”); and (ii) whether the director is affiliated with the listing company, its subsidiaries, or affiliates of its subsidiaries (the “Affiliation Factor”).

Glass Lewis believes it is important for boards to consider these enhanced independence factors when assessing compensation committee members. However, as discussed above in the section titled Independence, we apply our own standards when assessing the independence of directors, and these standards also take into account consulting and advisory fees paid to the director, as well as the director’s affiliations with the company and its subsidiaries and affiliates. We may recommend voting against compensation committee members who are not independent based on our standards.
 
INDEPENDENT CHAIR
 
Glass Lewis believes that separating the roles of CEO (or, more rarely, another executive position) and chair creates a better governance structure than a combined CEO/chair position. An executive manages the business according to a course the board charts. Executives should report to the board regarding their performance in achieving goals set by the board. This is needlessly complicated when a CEO chairs the board, since a CEO/ chair presumably will have a significant influence over the board.
 

8  With a staggered board, if the affiliates or insiders that we believe should not be on the board are not up for election, we will express our concern regarding those directors, but we will not recommend voting against the other affiliates or insiders who are up for election just to achieve two-thirds independence. However, we will consider recommending voting against the directors subject to our concern at their next election if the issue giving rise to the concern is not resolved.
9  We will recommend voting against an audit committee member who owns 20% or more of the company’s stock, and we believe that there should be a maximum of one director (or no directors if the committee is comprised of less than three directors) who owns 20% or more of the company’s stock on the compensation, nominating, and governance committees.

5

While many companies have an independent lead or presiding director who performs many of the same functions of an independent chair (e.g., setting the board meeting agenda), we do not believe this alternate form of independent board leadership provides as robust protection for shareholders as an independent chair.
 
It can become difficult for a board to fulfill its role of overseer and policy setter when a CEO/chair controls the agenda and the boardroom discussion. Such control can allow a CEO to have an entrenched position, leading to longer-than-optimal terms, fewer checks on management, less scrutiny of the business operation, and limitations on independent, shareholder-focused goal-setting by the board.
 
A CEO should set the strategic course for the company, with the board’s approval, and the board should enable the CEO to carry out the CEO’s vision for accomplishing the board’s objectives. Failure to achieve the board’s objectives should lead the board to replace that CEO with someone in whom the board has confidence.
 
Likewise, an independent chair can better oversee executives and set a pro-shareholder agenda without the management conflicts that a CEO and other executive insiders often face. Such oversight and concern for shareholders allows for a more proactive and effective board of directors that is better able to look out for the interests of shareholders.
 
Further, it is the board’s responsibility to select a chief executive who can best serve a company and its shareholders and to replace this person when his or her duties have not been appropriately fulfilled. Such  a replacement becomes more difficult and happens less frequently when the chief executive is also in the position of overseeing the board.
 
Glass Lewis believes that the installation of an independent chair is almost always a positive step from a corporate governance perspective and promotes the best interests of shareholders. Further, the presence of  an independent chair fosters the creation of a thoughtful and dynamic board, not dominated by  the views    of senior management. Encouragingly, many companies appear to be moving in this direction—one study indicates that only 10 percent of incoming CEOs in 2014 were awarded the chair title, versus 48 percent in 2002.10 Another study finds that 47  percent of S&P 500 boards now separate the CEO and chair roles, up from 37 percent in 2009, although the same study found that only 28 percent of S&P 500 boards have truly independent chairs.11
 
We do not recommend that shareholders vote against CEOs who chair the board. However, we typically recommend that our clients support separating the roles of chair and CEO whenever that question is posed in a proxy (typically in the form of a shareholder proposal), as we believe that it is in the long-term best interests of the company and its shareholders.
 
Further, where the company has neither an independent chair nor independent lead director, we will recommend voting against the chair of the governance committee.
 
PERFORMANCE
 
The most crucial test of a board’s commitment to the company and its shareholders lies in the actions of the board and its members. We look at the performance of these individuals as directors and executives of the company and of other companies where they have served.

We find that a director’s past conduct is often indicative of future conduct and performance. We often find directors with a history of overpaying executives or of serving on boards where avoidable disasters have occurred serving on the boards of companies with similar problems. Glass Lewis has a proprietary database of directors serving at over 8,000 of the most widely held U.S. companies. We use this database to track the performance of directors across companies.


10  Ken Favaro, Per-Ola Karlsson and Gary L. Nelson. “The $112 Billion CEO Succession Problem.” (Strategy+Business, Issue 79, Summer 2015).
11  Spencer Stuart Board Index, 2014, p.  23.
6

VOTING RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE BASIS OF  PERFORMANCE
 
We typically recommend that shareholders vote against directors who have served on boards or as executives of companies with records of poor performance, inadequate risk oversight, excessive  compensation, audit- or accounting-related issues, and/or other indicators of mismanagement or actions against the interests of shareholders. We  will reevaluate such directors based on, among other factors, the length of time passed   since the incident giving rise to the concern, shareholder support for the director, the severity of the issue, the director’s role (e.g., committee membership), director tenure at the subject company, whether ethical lapses accompanied the oversight lapse, and evidence of strong oversight at other companies.

Likewise, we examine the backgrounds of those who serve on key board committees to ensure that they have the required skills and diverse backgrounds to make informed judgments about the subject matter for which the committee is responsible.

We believe shareholders should avoid electing directors who have a record of not fulfilling their responsibilities to shareholders at any company where they have held a board or executive position. We typically recommend voting against:

1.
A director who fails to attend a minimum of 75% of board and applicable committee meetings, calculated in the aggregate.12
 
2.
A director who belatedly filed a significant form(s) 4 or 5, or who has a pattern of late filings if the late filing was the director’s fault (we look at these late filing situations on a case-by-case basis).

3.
A director who is also the CEO of a company where a serious and material restatement has occurred after the CEO had previously certified the pre-restatement financial statements.

4.
A director who has received two against recommendations from Glass Lewis for identical reasons within the prior year at different companies (the same situation must also apply at the company being analyzed).

5.
All directors who served on the board if, for the last three years, the company’s performance has  been in the bottom quartile of the sector and the directors have not taken reasonable steps to address the poor performance.
 
BOARD RESPONSIVENESS
 
Glass Lewis  believes  that  any  time  20%  or  more  of  shareholders  vote  contrary  to  the  recommendation  of management, the board should, depending on the issue, demonstrate some level of responsiveness to address the concerns of shareholders. These include instances when 20% or more of shareholders (excluding abstentions and broker non-votes): WITHHOLD votes from (or vote AGAINST) a  director  nominee,  vote  AGAINST a management-sponsored proposal, or vote FOR a shareholder proposal. In our view, a 20% threshold is significant enough to warrant a close examination of the underlying issues and an evaluation of whether or not a board response was warranted and, if so, whether the board responded appropriately following the vote, particularly in the case of a compensation or director election proposal. While the 20% threshold alone will     not automatically generate a negative vote recommendation from Glass Lewis on a future proposal (e.g., to recommend against a director nominee, against a say-on-pay proposal, etc.), it may be a contributing factor to our recommendation to vote against management’s recommendation in the event we determine that the board did not respond appropriately.
 

12  However, where a director has served for less than one full year, we will typically not recommend voting against for failure to attend 75% of meetings. Rather, we will note the poor attendance with a recommendation to track this issue going forward. We will also refrain from recommending to vote against directors when the proxy discloses that the director missed the meetings due to serious illness or other extenuating circumstances.

7

With regards to companies where voting control is held through a dual-class share structure with dispropor- tionate voting and economic rights, we will carefully examine the level of approval or disapproval attributed to unaffiliated shareholders when determining whether board responsiveness is warranted. Where vote results indicate that a majority of unaffiliated shareholders supported a shareholder proposal or opposed a manage- ment proposal, we believe the board should demonstrate an appropriate level of responsiveness.
 
As a general framework, our evaluation of board responsiveness involves a review of publicly available disclosures (e.g., the proxy statement, annual report, 8-Ks, company website, etc.) released following the date of the company’s last annual meeting up through the publication date of our most current Proxy Paper. Depending on the specific issue, our focus typically includes, but is not limited to, the following:
 
At the board level, any changes in directorships, committee memberships, disclosure of related party transactions, meeting attendance, or other responsibilities;
 
Any revisions made to the company’s articles of incorporation, bylaws or other governance documents;
 
Any press or news releases indicating changes in, or the adoption of, new company policies, business practices or special reports; and
 
Any modifications made to the design and structure of the company’s compensation program, as well as an assessment of the company’s engagement with shareholders on compensation issues as discussed in the CD&A, particularly following a material vote against a company’s  say-on-pay.
 
Our Proxy Paper analysis will include a case-by-case assessment of the specific elements of board responsive- ness that we examined along with an explanation of how that assessment impacts our current voting recom- mendations.
 
THE ROLE OF A COMMITTEE CHAIR
 
Glass Lewis believes that a designated committee chair maintains primary responsibility for the actions of his    or her respective committee. As such, many of our committee-specific voting recommendations are against the applicable committee chair rather than the entire committee (depending on the seriousness of the issue). However, in cases where we would ordinarily recommend voting against a committee chair but the chair is not specified, we apply the following general rules, which apply throughout our guidelines:

If there is no committee chair, we recommend voting against the longest-serving committee member or, if the longest-serving committee member cannot be determined, the longest-serving board member serving on the committee (i.e., in either case, the “senior director”); and

If there is no committee chair, but multiple senior directors serving on the committee, we recommend voting against both (or all) such senior directors.

In our view, companies should provide clear disclosure of which director is charged with overseeing each committee. In cases where that simple framework is ignored and a reasonable analysis cannot determine which committee member is the designated leader, we believe shareholder action against the longest serving committee member(s) is warranted. Again, this only applies if we would ordinarily recommend voting against the committee chair but there is either no such position or no designated director in such role.

On the contrary, in cases where there is a designated committee chair and the recommendation is to vote against the committee chair, but the chair is not up for election because the board is staggered, we do not recommend voting against any members of the committee who are up for election; rather, we will note the concern with regard to the committee chair.
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AUDIT COMMITTEES AND PERFORMANCE

Audit committees play an integral role in overseeing the financial reporting process because “[v]ibrant and stable capital markets depend on, among other things, reliable, transparent, and objective financial information to support an efficient and effective capital market process. The vital oversight role audit committees play in the process of producing financial information has never been more  important.”13

When assessing an audit committee’s performance, we are aware that an audit committee does not prepare financial statements, is not responsible for making the key judgments and assumptions that affect the financial statements, and does not audit the numbers or the disclosures provided to investors. Rather, an audit committee member monitors and oversees the process and procedures that management and auditors perform. The 1999 Report and Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Committee on Improving the Effectiveness of Corporate Audit Committees stated it best:

A proper and well-functioning system exists, therefore, when the three main groups responsible for financial reporting — the full board including the audit committee, financial management including the internal auditors, and the outside auditors — form a ‘three legged stool’ that supports responsible financial disclosure and active participatory oversight. However, in the view of the Committee, the audit committee must be ‘first among equals’ in this process, since the audit committee is an extension of the full board and hence the ultimate monitor of the process.
 
STANDARDS FOR ASSESSING THE AUDIT COMMITTEE
 
For an audit committee to function effectively on investors’ behalf, it must include members with sufficient knowledge to diligently carry out their responsibilities. In its audit and accounting recommendations, the Conference Board Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprise said “members of the audit committee must be independent and have both knowledge and experience in auditing financial matters.”14
 
We are skeptical of audit committees where there are members that lack expertise as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or corporate controller, or similar experience. While we will not necessarily recommend voting against members of an audit committee when such expertise is lacking, we are more likely to recommend voting against committee members when a problem such as a restatement occurs and such expertise is lacking.
 
Glass Lewis generally assesses audit committees against the decisions they make with respect to their oversight and monitoring role. The quality and integrity of the financial statements and earnings reports, the completeness of disclosures necessary for investors to make informed decisions, and the effectiveness of the internal controls should provide reasonable assurance that the financial statements are materially free from

errors. The independence of the external auditors and the results of their work all provide useful information by which to assess the audit committee.

When assessing the decisions and actions of the audit committee, we typically defer to its judgment and generally recommend voting in favor of its members. However, we will consider recommending that shareholders vote against the following:15

1.
All members of the audit committee when options were backdated, there is a lack of adequate controls in place, there was a resulting restatement, and disclosures indicate there was a lack of documentation with respect to the option grants.
 

13  Audit Committee Effectiveness – What Works Best.” PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation. 2005.
14  Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprise. The Conference Board. 2003.
15  As discussed under the section labeled “Committee Chair,” where the recommendation is to vote against the committee chair but the chair is not up for election because the board is staggered, we do not recommend voting against the members of the committee who are up for election; rather, we will note the concern with regard to the committee chair.

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2.
The audit committee chair, if the audit committee does not have a financial expert or the committee’s financial expert does not have a demonstrable financial background sufficient to understand the financial issues unique to public companies.
 
3.
The audit committee chair, if the audit committee did not meet at least four times during the year.
 
4.
The audit committee chair, if the committee has less than three members.
 
5.
Any audit committee member who sits on more than three public company audit committees, unless the audit committee member is a retired CPA, CFO, controller or has similar experience, in which case the limit shall be four committees, taking time and availability into consideration including a review of the audit committee member’s attendance at all board and committee meetings.16
 
6.
All members of an audit committee who are up for election and who served on the committee at the time of the audit, if audit and audit-related fees total one-third or less of the total fees billed by the auditor.
 
7.
The audit committee chair when tax and/or other fees are greater than audit and audit-related fees paid to the auditor for more than one year in a row (in which case we also recommend against ratification of the auditor).
 
8.
All members of an audit committee where non-audit fees include fees for tax services (including, but not limited to, such things as tax avoidance or shelter schemes) for senior executives of the company. Such services are prohibited by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”).
 
9.
All members of an audit committee that reappointed an auditor that we no longer consider to be independent for reasons unrelated to fee  proportions.
 
10.
All members of an audit committee when audit fees are excessively low, especially when compared with other companies in the same  industry.
 
11.
The audit committee chair17 if the committee failed to put auditor ratification on the ballot for shareholder approval. However, if the non-audit fees or tax fees exceed audit plus audit-related fees in either the current or the prior year, then Glass Lewis will recommend voting against the entire audit committee.
 
12.
All members of an audit committee where the auditor has resigned and reported that a section 10A18 letter has been  issued.
 
13.
All members of an audit committee at a time when material accounting fraud occurred at the company.19
 

16  Glass Lewis may exempt certain audit committee members from the above threshold if, upon further analysis of relevant factors such as the director’s experience, the size, industry-mix and location of the companies involved and the director’s attendance at all the companies, we can reasonably determine that the audit committee member is likely not hindered by multiple audit committee commitments.
17  As discussed under the section labeled “Committee Chair,” in all cases, if the chair of the committee is not specified, we recommend voting against the director who has been on the committee the longest.
18  Auditors are required to report all potential illegal acts to management and the audit committee unless they are clearly inconsequential in nature.   If the audit committee or the board fails to take appropriate action on an act that has been determined to be a violation of the law, the independent auditor is required to send a section 10A letter to the SEC. Such letters are rare and therefore we believe should be taken seriously.
19  Research indicates that revenue fraud now accounts for over 60% of SEC fraud cases, and that companies that engage in fraud experience significant negative abnormal stock price declines—facing bankruptcy, delisting, and material asset sales at much higher rates than do non-fraud firms (Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission. “Fraudulent Financial Reporting: 1998-2007.” May 2010).

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14.
All members of an audit committee at a time when annual and/or multiple quarterly financial statements had to be restated, and any of the following factors apply:
 
The restatement involves fraud or manipulation by insiders;
 
The restatement is accompanied by an SEC inquiry or investigation;
 
The restatement involves revenue recognition;
 
The restatement results in a greater than 5% adjustment to costs of goods sold, operating expense, or operating cash flows; or

The restatement results in a greater than 5% adjustment to net income, 10% adjustment to assets or shareholders equity, or cash flows from financing or investing activities.
 
15.
All members of an audit committee if the company repeatedly fails to file its financial reports in   a timely fashion. For example, the company has filed two or more quarterly or annual financial statements late within the last five quarters.

16.
All members of an audit committee when it has been disclosed that a law enforcement agency     has charged the company and/or  its employees with a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices   Act (FCPA).

17.
All members of an audit committee when the company has aggressive accounting policies and/or poor disclosure or lack of sufficient transparency in its financial statements.

18.
All members of the audit committee when there is a disagreement with the auditor and the auditor resigns or is dismissed (e.g., the company receives an adverse opinion on its financial statements from the auditor).

19.
All members of the audit committee if the contract with the auditor specifically limits the auditor’s liability to the company for damages.20

20.
All members of the audit committee who served since the date of the company’s last annual meeting, and when, since the last annual meeting, the company has reported a material weakness that has not yet been corrected, or, when the company has an ongoing material weakness from a prior year that has not yet been corrected.

We also take a dim view of audit committee reports that are boilerplate, and which provide little or no information or transparency to investors. When a problem such as a material weakness, restatement or late filings occurs, we take into consideration, in forming our judgment with respect to the audit committee, the transparency of the audit committee report.
 
COMPENSATION COMMITTEE PERFORMANCE
 
Compensation committees have a critical role in determining the compensation of executives. This includes deciding the basis on which compensation is determined, as well as the amounts and types of compensation to be paid. This process begins with the hiring and initial establishment of employment agreements, including the terms for such items as pay, pensions and severance arrangements. It is important in establishing compensation arrangements that compensation be consistent with, and based on the long-term economic performance of, the business’s long-term shareholders returns.
 

20  The Council of Institutional Investors. “Corporate Governance Policies,” p. 4, April 5, 2006; and “Letter from Council of Institutional Investors to the AICPA,” November 8, 2006.

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Compensation committees are also responsible for the oversight of the transparency of compensation. This oversight includes disclosure of compensation arrangements, the matrix used in assessing pay for performance, and the use of compensation consultants. In order to ensure the independence of the board’s compensation consultant, we believe the compensation committee should only engage a compensation consultant that is not also providing any services to the company or management apart from their contract with the compensation committee. It is important to investors that they have  clear and complete disclosure of all the significant     terms of compensation arrangements in order to make informed decisions with respect to the oversight and decisions of the compensation committee.
 
Finally, compensation committees are responsible for oversight of internal controls over the executive compensation process. This includes controls over gathering information used to determine compensation, establishment of equity award plans, and granting of equity awards. For example, the use of a compensation consultant who maintains a business relationship with company management may cause the committee to make decisions based on information that is compromised by the consultant’s conflict of interests. Lax controls can also contribute to improper awards of compensation such as through granting of backdated or spring- loaded options, or granting of bonuses when triggers for bonus payments have not been met.
 
Central to understanding the actions of a compensation committee is a careful review of the Compensation Discussion and Analysis (“CD&A”) report included in each company’s proxy. We review the CD&A in our evaluation of the overall compensation practices of a company, as overseen by the compensation committee. The CD&A is also integral to the evaluation of  compensation  proposals  at  companies,  such  as  advisory votes on executive compensation, which allow shareholders to vote on the compensation paid to a company’s top executives.
 
When assessing the performance of compensation committees, we will consider recommending that share- holders vote  against the following:21
 
1.
All members of a compensation committee during whose tenure the committee failed to address shareholder concerns following majority shareholder rejection of the say-on-pay proposal in the previous year. Where the proposal was approved  but  there  was  a  significant  shareholder  vote  (i.e., greater than 20% of votes cast) against the say-on-pay proposal in the prior year,  if the board  did not respond sufficiently to the vote  including actively engaging shareholders on this issue, we   will also consider recommending voting against the chair of the compensation committee or all members of the compensation committee, depending on the severity and history of the compensation problems and the level of shareholder  opposition.
 
2.
All members of the compensation committee who are up for election and served when the company failed to align pay with performance if shareholders are not provided with an advisory vote on executive compensation at the annual meeting.22
 
3.
Any member of the compensation committee who has served on the compensation committee of   at least two other public companies that have consistently failed to align pay with performance and whose oversight of compensation at the company in question is  suspect.
 
4.
All members of the compensation committee (during the relevant time period) if the company entered into excessive employment agreements and/or severance agreements.


21  As discussed under the section labeled “Committee Chair,” where the recommendation is to vote against the committee chair and the chair is not up for election because the board is staggered, we do not recommend voting against any members of the committee who are up for election; rather, we will note the concern with regard to the committee chair.
22  If a company provides shareholders with a say-on-pay proposal, we will initially only recommend voting against the company’s say-on-pay proposal and will not recommend voting against the members of the compensation committee unless there is a pattern of failing to align pay and performance and/or the company exhibits egregious compensation practices. However, if the company repeatedly fails to align pay and performance, we will then recommend against the members of the compensation committee in addition to recommending voting against the say-on-pay proposal. For cases in which the disconnect between pay and performance is marginal and the company has outperformed its peers, we will consider not recommending against compensation committee members. In addition, if a company provides shareholders with a say-on-pay proposal, we will initially only recommend voting against the company’s say-on-pay proposal and will not recommend voting against the members of the compensation committee unless there is a pattern of failing to align pay and performance and/or the company exhibits egregious compensation practices. However, if the company repeatedly fails to align pay and performance, we will then recommend against the members of the compensation committee in addition to recommending voting against the say- on-pay proposal.
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5.
All members of the compensation committee when performance goals were changed (i.e., lowered) when employees failed or were unlikely to meet original goals, or performance-based compensation was paid despite goals not being attained.
 
6.
All members of the compensation committee if excessive employee perquisites and benefits were allowed.
 
7.
The compensation committee chair if the compensation committee did not meet during the  year.
 
8.
All members of the compensation committee when the company repriced options or completed a “self tender offer” without shareholder approval within the past two years.

9.
All members of the compensation committee when vesting of in-the-money options is accelerated.
 
10.
All members of the compensation committee when option exercise prices were backdated. Glass Lewis will recommend voting against an executive director who played a role in and participated in option backdating.

11.
All members of the compensation committee when option exercise prices were spring-loaded or otherwise timed around the release of material information.
 
12.
All members of the compensation committee when a new employment contract is given to an executive that does not include a clawback provision and the company had a material restatement, especially if the restatement was due to fraud.

13.
The chair of the compensation committee where the CD&A provides insufficient or unclear information about performance metrics and goals, where the CD&A indicates that pay is not tied to performance, or where the compensation committee or management has excessive discretion to alter performance terms or increase amounts of awards in contravention of previously defined targets.

14.
All members of the compensation committee during whose tenure the committee failed to implement a shareholder proposal regarding a compensation-related issue, where the proposal received the affirmative vote of a majority of the voting shares at a shareholder meeting, and when a reasonable analysis suggests that the compensation committee (rather than the governance committee) should have taken steps to implement the request.23
 
NOMINATING AND GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE PERFORMANCE
 
The nominating and governance committee, as an agent for the shareholders, is responsible for the governance by the board of the company and its executives. In performing this role, the committee is responsible and accountable for selection of objective and competent board members. It is also responsible for providing leadership on governance policies adopted by the company, such as decisions to implement shareholder proposals that have received a majority vote. (At most companies, a single committee is charged with these oversight functions; at others, the governance and nominating responsibilities are apportioned among two separate committees.)
 
Consistent with Glass Lewis’ philosophy that boards should have diverse backgrounds and members with a breadth and depth of relevant experience, we believe that nominating and governance committees should consider diversity when making director nominations within the context of each specific company and its industry. In our view, shareholders are best served when boards make an effort to ensure a constituency that is not only reasonably diverse on the basis of age, race, gender and ethnicity, but also on the basis of geographic knowledge, industry experience, board tenure and culture.
 

23          In all other instances (i.e., a non-compensation-related shareholder proposal should have been implemented) we recommend that shareholders vote against the members of the governance committee.

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Regarding the committee responsible for governance, we will consider recommending that shareholders vote against  the following:24
 
1.
All members of the governance committee25 during whose tenure a shareholder proposal relating to important shareholder rights received support from a majority of the votes cast (excluding abstentions and broker non-votes) and the board has not begun to implement or enact the proposal’s subject matter.26 Examples of such shareholder proposals include those seeking a declassified board structure, a majority vote standard for director elections, or a right to call a special meeting. In determining whether a board has sufficiently implemented such a proposal, we will examine the quality of the  right enacted or proffered by the board for any conditions that may unreasonably interfere with the shareholders’ ability to exercise  the right (e.g., overly restrictive procedural requirements for calling a special meeting).
 
2.
The governance committee chair,27 when the chair is not independent and an independent lead or presiding director has not been appointed.28
 
3.
In the absence of a nominating committee, the governance committee chair when there are less than five or the whole nominating committee when there are more than 20 members on the  board.
 
4.
The governance committee chair, when the committee fails to meet at all during the year.
 
5.
The governance committee chair, when for two consecutive years the company provides what we consider to be “inadequate” related party transaction disclosure (i.e., the nature of such transactions and/or the monetary amounts involved are unclear or excessively vague, thereby preventing a shareholder from being able to reasonably interpret the independence status of multiple directors above and beyond what the company maintains is compliant with SEC or applicable stock exchange listing requirements).

6.
The governance committee chair, when during the past year the board adopted a forum selection clause (i.e., an exclusive forum provision)29 without shareholder approval, or if the board is currently seeking shareholder approval of a forum selection clause pursuant to a bundled bylaw amendment rather than as a separate proposal.
 
7.
All members of the governance committee during whose tenure the board adopted, without shareholder approval, provisions in its charter or bylaws that, through rules on director compensation, may inhibit the ability of shareholders to nominate directors.
 

24  As discussed in the guidelines section labeled “Committee Chair,” where we would recommend to vote against the committee chair but the chair is not up for election because the board is staggered, we do not recommend voting against any members of the committee who are up for election; rather, we   will note the concern with regard to the committee chair.
25  If the board does not have a committee responsible for governance oversight and the board did not implement a shareholder proposal that received the requisite support, we will recommend voting against the entire board. If the shareholder proposal at issue requested that the board adopt a declassified structure, we will recommend voting against all director nominees up for election.
26  Where a compensation-related shareholder proposal should have been implemented, and when a reasonable analysis suggests that the members of the compensation committee (rather than the governance committee) bear the responsibility for failing to implement the request, we recommend that shareholders only vote against members of the compensation committee.
27  As discussed in the guidelines section labeled “Committee Chair,” if the committee chair is not specified, we recommend voting against the director who has been on the committee the longest. If the longest-serving committee member cannot be determined, we will recommend voting against the longest-serving board member serving on the committee.
28  We believe that one independent individual should be appointed to serve as the lead or presiding director. When such a position is rotated among directors from meeting to meeting, we will recommend voting against the governance committee chair as we believe the lack of fixed lead or presiding director means that, effectively, the board does not have an independent board leader.
29  A forum selection clause is a bylaw provision stipulating that a certain state, typically where the company is incorporated, which is most often Delaware, shall be the exclusive forum for all intra-corporate disputes (e.g., shareholder derivative actions, assertions of claims of a breach of fiduciary duty, etc.). Such a clause effectively limits a shareholder’s legal remedy regarding appropriate choice of venue and related relief offered under that state’s laws and rulings.
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In addition, we may recommend that shareholders vote against the chair of the governance committee, or the entire committee, where the board has amended the company’s governing documents to reduce or remove important shareholder rights, or to otherwise impede the ability of shareholders to exercise such right, and has done so without seeking shareholder approval. Examples of board actions that may cause such  a recommendation include: the elimination of the ability of shareholders to call a special meeting or to act by written consent; an increase to the ownership threshold required for shareholders to call a special meeting; an increase to vote requirements for charter or bylaw amendments; the adoption of provisions that limit the ability of shareholders to pursue full legal recourse—such as bylaws that require arbitration of shareholder claims or that require shareholder plaintiffs to pay the company’s legal expenses in the absence of a court victory (i.e., “fee-shifting” or “loser pays” bylaws); the adoption of a classified board structure; and the elimination of the ability of shareholders to remove a director without  cause.
 
Regarding the nominating committee, we will consider recommending that shareholders vote against the following:30
 
1.
All members of the nominating committee, when the committee nominated or renominated    an individual who had a significant conflict of interest or whose past actions demonstrated a lack of integrity or inability to represent shareholder interests.
 
2.
The nominating committee chair, if the nominating committee did not meet during the year.
 
3.
In the absence of a governance committee, the nominating committee chair31 when the chair is not independent, and an independent lead or presiding director has not been appointed.32
 
4.
The nominating committee chair, when there are less than five or the whole nominating committee when there are more than 20 members on the board.33
 
5.
The nominating committee chair, when a director received a greater than 50% against vote the prior year and not only was the director not removed, but the issues that raised shareholder concern were not corrected.34
 
In addition, we may consider recommending shareholders vote against the chair of the nominating committee where the board’s failure to ensure the board has directors with relevant experience, either through periodic director assessment or board refreshment, has contributed to a company’s poor   performance.
 
BOARD-LEVEL RISK MANAGEMENT OVERSIGHT
 
Glass Lewis evaluates the risk management function of a public company board on a strictly case-by-case basis. Sound risk management, while necessary at all companies, is particularly important at financial firms which inherently maintain significant exposure to financial risk. We believe such financial firms should have a chief risk officer reporting directly to the board and a dedicated risk committee or a committee of the board charged with risk oversight. Moreover, many non-financial firms maintain strategies which involve a high level of exposure to financial risk. Similarly, since many non-financial firms have complex hedging or trading strategies, those firms should also have a chief risk officer and a risk committee.
 

30  As discussed in the guidelines section labeled “Committee Chair,” where we would recommend to vote against the committee chair but the chair is not up for election because the board is staggered, we do not recommend voting against any members of the committee who are up for election; rather, we   will note the concern with regard to the committee chair.
31  As discussed under the section labeled “Committee Chair,” if the committee chair is not specified, we will recommend voting against the director who has been on the committee the longest. If the longest-serving committee member cannot be determined, we will recommend voting against the longest- serving board member on the committee.
32  In the absence of both a governance and a nominating committee, we will recommend voting against the board chair on this basis, unless if the chair also serves as the CEO, in which case we will recommend voting against the longest-serving director.
33  In the absence of both a governance and a nominating committee, we will recommend voting against the board chair on this basis, unless if the chair also serves as the CEO, in which case we will recommend voting against the the longest-serving director.
34  Considering that shareholder discontent clearly relates to the director who received a greater than 50% against vote rather than the nominating chair, we review the severity of the issue(s) that initially raised shareholder concern as well as company responsiveness to such matters, and will only recommend voting against the nominating chair if a reasonable analysis suggests that it would be most appropriate. In rare cases, we will consider recommending against the nominating chair when a director receives a substantial (i.e., 20% or more) vote against based on the same analysis.

15

Our views on risk oversight are consistent with those expressed by various regulatory bodies. In its December 2009 Final Rule release on Proxy Disclosure Enhancements, the SEC noted thatriskoversight isa key competence of the board and that additional disclosures would improve investor and shareholder understanding of the role of the board in the organization’s risk management practices. The final rules, which became effective on February 28, 2010, now explicitly require companies and mutual funds to describe (while allowing for some degree of flexibility) the board’s role in the oversight of risk.
 
When analyzing the risk management practices of public companies, we take note of any significant losses     or writedowns on financial assets and/or structured transactions. In cases where a company has disclosed a sizable loss or writedown, and where we find that the company’s board-level risk committee’s poor oversight contributed to the loss, we  will recommend that shareholders vote  against such committee members on that basis. In addition, in cases where a company maintains a significant level  of financial risk exposure but   fails to disclose any explicit form of board-level risk oversight (committee or otherwise)35, we will consider recommending to vote against the board chair on that basis. However, we generally would not recommend voting against a combined chair/CEO, except in egregious cases.
 
ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL RISK OVERSIGHT
 
Companies face significant financial, legal and reputational risks resulting from poor environmental and social practices, or negligent oversight thereof. Therefore, Glass Lewis views the identification, mitigation
 
and management of environmental and social risks as integral components when evaluating a company’s overall risk exposure. We believe boards should ensure that management conducts a complete risk analysis of company operations, including those that have environmental and social implications. Directors should monitor management’s performance in managing and mitigating these environmental and social risks in order to eliminate or minimize the risks to the company and its shareholders. In cases where the board or management has failed to sufficiently identify and manage a material environmental or social risk that did or could negatively impact shareholder value, we will recommend shareholders vote against directors responsible for risk oversight in consideration of the nature of the risk and the potential effect on shareholder value.
 
DIRECTOR COMMITMENTS
 
We believe that directors should have the necessary time to fulfill their duties to shareholders. In our view, an overcommitted director can pose a material risk to a company’s shareholders, particularly during periods of crisis. In addition, recent research indicates that the time commitment associated with being a director has been on a significant upward trend in the past decade.36 As a result, we generally recommend that shareholders vote against a director who serves as an executive officer of any public company while serving on more than two public company boards and any other director who serves on more than five public company boards.
 
Because we believe that executives will primarily devote their attention to executive duties, we  generally will  not recommend that shareholders vote against overcommitted directors at the companies where they serve  as an executive.

When determining whether a director’s service on an excessive number of boards may limit the ability of the director to devote sufficient time to board duties, we may consider relevant factors such as the size and location of the other companies where the director serves on the board, the director’s board roles at the companies in question, whether the director serves on the board of any large privately-held companies, the director’s tenure on the boards in question, and the director’s attendance record at all companies. In the case of directors who serve in executive roles other than CEO (e.g., executive chair), we will evaluate the specific duties and responsibilities of that role in determining whether an exception is warranted.
 

35  A committee responsible for risk management could be a dedicated risk committee, the audit committee, or the finance committee, depending on a given company’s board structure and method of disclosure. At some companies, the entire board is charged with risk management.
36  For example, the 2015-2016 NACD Public Company Governance Survey states that, on average, directors spent a total of 248.2 hours annual on board-related matters during the past year, which it describes as a “historically high level” that is significantly above the average hours recorded in 2006. Additionally, the 2015 Spencer Stuart Board Index indicates that the average number of outside board seats held by CEOs of S&P 500 companies is 0.6, down from 0.7 in 2009 and 0.9 in  2004.

16

We may also refrain from recommending against certain directors if the company provides sufficient rationale for their continued board service. The rationale should allow shareholders to evaluate the scope of the directors’ other commitments, as well as their contributions to the board including specialized knowledge of the company’s industry, strategy or key markets, the diversity of skills, perspective and background they provide, and other relevant factors. We will also generally refrain from recommending to vote against a director who serves on an excessive number of boards within a consolidated group of companies or a director that represents a firm whose sole purpose is to manage a portfolio of investments which include the company.
 
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
 
In addition to the three key characteristics — independence, performance, experience — that we use to evaluate board members, we consider conflict-of-interest issues as well as the size of the board of directors when making voting recommendations.
 
Conflicts of Interest

We believe board members should be wholly free of identifiable and substantial conflicts of interest, regardless of the overall level of independent directors on the board. Accordingly, we recommend that shareholders vote against the following types of   directors:

1.
A CFO who is on the board: In our view, the CFO holds a unique position relative to financial reporting and disclosure to shareholders. Due to the critical importance of financial disclosure and reporting, we believe the CFO should report to the board and not be a member of it.

2.
A director who provides — or a director who has an immediate family member who provides — material consulting or other material professional services to the company. These services may include legal, consulting, or financial services. We question the need for the company to have consulting relationships with its directors. We  view such relationships as creating conflicts for directors, since    they may be forced to weigh their own interests against shareholder interests when making board decisions. In addition, a company’s decisions regarding where to turn for the best professional services may be compromised when doing business with the professional services firm of one of the company’s directors.

3.
A director, or a director who has an immediate family member, engaging in airplane, real estate, or similar deals, including perquisite-type grants from the company, amounting to more than $50,000. Directors who receive these sorts of payments from the company will have to make unnecessarily complicated decisions that may pit their interests against shareholder interests.

4.
Interlocking directorships: CEOs or other top executives who serve on each other’s boards create an interlock that poses conflicts that should be avoided to ensure the promotion of shareholder interests above all else.37

5.
All board members who served at a time when a poison pill with a term of longer than one year was adopted without shareholder approval within the prior twelve months.38  In the event  a board is classified and shareholders are therefore unable to vote against all directors, we will recommend voting against the remaining directors the next year they are up for a shareholder vote. If a poison   pill with a term of one year or less was adopted without shareholder approval, and without adequate justification, we will consider recommending that shareholders vote against all members of the governance committee. If the board has, without seeking shareholder approval, and without adequate justification, extended the term of a poison pill by one year or less in two consecutive years, we will consider recommending that shareholders vote against the entire board.
 

37  We do not apply a look-back period for this situation. The interlock policy applies to both public and private companies. We will also evaluate multiple board interlocks among non-insiders (i.e., multiple directors serving on the same boards at other companies), for evidence of a pattern of poor oversight.
38  Refer to Section V. Governance Structure and the Shareholder Franchise for further discussion of our policies regarding anti-takeover measures, including  poison pills.

17

Size of the Board of Directors
 
While we do not believe there is a universally applicable optimum board size, we do believe boards should have at least five directors to ensure sufficient diversity in decision-making and to enable the formation of key board committees with independent directors. Conversely, we believe that boards with more than 20 members will typically suffer under the weight of “too many cooks in the kitchen” and have difficulty reaching consensus and making timely decisions. Sometimes the presence of too many voices can make it difficult to draw on the wisdom and experience in the room by virtue of the need to limit the discussion so that each voice may be heard.

To that end, we typically recommend voting against the chair of the nominating committee (or the governance committee, in the absence of a nominating committee) at a board with fewer than five directors or more than 20 directors.39
 
CONTROLLED COMPANIES
 
We believe controlled companies warrant certain exceptions to our independence standards. The board’s function is to protect shareholder interests; however, when an individual, entity (or group of shareholders party to a formal agreement) owns more than 50% of the voting shares, the interests of the majority of shareholders are the interests of that entity or individual. Consequently, Glass Lewis does not apply our usual two-thirds   board independence rule and therefore we will not recommend voting against boards whose composition reflects the makeup of the shareholder population.
 
Independence Exceptions
 
The independence exceptions that we make for controlled companies are as follows:

 
1.
We do not require that controlled companies have boards that are at least two-thirds independent.  So long as the insiders and/or affiliates are connected with the controlling entity, we accept the presence of non-independent board members.

2.
The compensation committee and nominating and governance committees do not need to consist solely  of  independent directors.

We believe that standing nominating and corporate governance committees at controlled companies are unnecessary. Although having a committee charged with the duties of searching for, selecting, and nominating independent directors can be beneficial, the unique composition of a controlled company’s shareholder base makes such committees weak and irrelevant.

Likewise, we believe that independent compensation committees at controlled companies are unnecessary. Although independent directors are the best choice for approving and monitoring
 
senior executives’ pay, controlled companies serve a unique shareholder population whose voting power ensures the protection of its interests. As such, we believe that having affiliated directors on a controlled company’s compensation committee is acceptable. However, given that a controlled company has certain obligations to minority shareholders we feel that an insider should not serve on the compensation committee. Therefore, Glass Lewis will recommend voting against any insider (the CEO or otherwise) serving on the compensation committee.

3.
Controlled companies do not need an independent chair or an independent lead or presiding director. Although an independent director in a position of authority on the board — such as chair or presiding director — can best carry out the board’s duties, controlled companies serve a unique shareholder population whose voting power ensures the protection of its interests.
 

39  The Conference Board, at p. 23 in its May 2003 report “Corporate Governance Best Practices, Id.,” quotes one of its roundtable participants as stating, “[w]hen you’ve got a 20 or 30 person corporate board, it’s one way of assuring that nothing is ever going to happen that the CEO doesn’t want to happen.”

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Size of the Board of Directors
 
We have no board size requirements for controlled companies.
 
Audit  Committee Independence
 
Despite a controlled company’s status, unlike for the other key committees, we nevertheless believe that audit committees should consist solely of independent directors. Regardless of a company’s controlled status, the interests of all shareholders must be protected by ensuring the integrity and accuracy of the company’s financial statements. Allowing affiliated directors to oversee the preparation of financial reports could create an insurmountable conflict of interest.
 
Board Responsiveness at Dual-Class Companies
 
With regards to companies where voting control is held through a dual-class share structure with dispropor- tionate voting and economic rights, we will carefully examine the level of approval or disapproval attributed to unaffiliated shareholders when determining whether board responsiveness is warranted. Where vote results indicate that a majority of unaffiliated shareholders supported a shareholder proposal or opposed a manage- ment proposal, we believe the board should demonstrate an appropriate level of responsiveness.
 
SIGNIFICANT SHAREHOLDERS

Where an individual or entity holds between 20-50% of a company’s voting power, we believe it is reasonable to allow proportional representation on the board and committees (excluding the audit committee) based on the individual or entity’s percentage of ownership.
 
GOVERNANCE FOLLOWING AN IPO OR   SPIN-OFF
 
We believe companies that have recently completed an initial public offering (“IPO”) or spin-off should be allowed adequate time to fully comply with marketplace listing requirements and meet basic corporate governance standards. Generally speaking, Glass Lewis refrains from making recommendations on the basis of governance standards (e.g., board independence, committee membership and structure, meeting attendance, etc.) during the one-year period following an IPO.

However, some cases warrant shareholder action against the board of a company that have completed an IPO or spin-off within the past year. When evaluating companies that have recently gone public, Glass Lewis will review the terms of the applicable governing documents in order to determine whether shareholder rights are being severely restricted indefinitely. We believe boards that approve highly restrictive governing documents have demonstrated that they may subvert shareholder interests following the IPO. In conducting this evaluation, Glass Lewis will consider:

1.
The adoption of anti-takeover provisions such as a poison pill or classified board
 
2.
Supermajority vote requirements to amend governing documents
 
3.
The presence of exclusive forum or fee-shifting provisions
 
4.
Whether shareholders can call special meetings or act by written consent
 
5.
The voting standard provided for the election of directors
 
6.
The ability of shareholders to remove directors without cause
 
7.
The presence of evergreen provisions in the Company’s equity compensation  arrangements
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8.
The presence of a dual-class share structure which does not afford common shareholders voting power that is aligned with their economic interest
 
In cases where a board adopts an anti-takeover provision preceding an IPO, we will consider recommending to vote against the members of the board who served when it was adopted if the board: (i) did not also commit to submit the anti-takeover provision to a shareholder vote at the company’s first shareholder meeting following the IPO; or (ii) did not provide a sound rationale or sunset provision for adopting the anti-takeover provision in question.
 
In our view, adopting an anti-takeover device unfairly penalizes future shareholders who (except for electing to buy or sell the stock) are unable to weigh in on a matter that could potentially negatively impact their ownership interest. This notion is strengthened when a board adopts a classified board with an infinite duration or a poison pill with a five- to ten-year term immediately prior to going public, thereby insulated management for a substantial amount of time.
 
In addition, shareholders should also be wary of companies that adopt supermajority voting requirements before their IPO. Absent explicit provisions in the articles or bylaws stipulating that certain policies will be phased out over a certain period of time, long-term shareholders could find themselves in the predicament of having to attain a supermajority vote to approve future proposals seeking to eliminate such policies.
 
DUAL-LISTED OR FOREIGN-INCORPORATED COMPANIES
 
For companies that trade on multiple exchanges or are incorporated in foreign jurisdictions but trade only in the U.S., we will apply the governance standard most relevant in each situation. We will consider a number of factors in determining which Glass Lewis country-specific policy to apply, including but not limited to: (i) the corporate governance structure and features of the company including whether the board structure is unique to a particular market; (ii) the nature of the proposals; (iii) the location of the company’s primary listing, if one can be determined; (iv) the regulatory/governance regime that the board is reporting against; and (v) the availability and completeness of the company’s SEC filings.
 
MUTUAL FUND BOARDS
 
Mutual funds, or investment companies, are structured differently from regular public companies (i.e., operating companies). Typically, members of a fund’s advisor are on the board and management takes on a different role from that of regular public companies. Thus, we focus on a short list of requirements, although many of our guidelines remain the same.

The following mutual fund policies are similar to the policies for regular public companies:
 
1.
Size of the board of directors — The board should be made up of between five and twenty directors.
 
2.
The CFO on the board — Neither the CFO of the fund nor the CFO of the fund’s registered investment advisor should serve on the board.
 
3.
Independence of the audit committee — The audit committee should consist solely of independent directors.
 
4.
Audit committee financial expert — At least one member of the audit committee should be designated as the audit committee financial expert.
 
The following differences from regular public companies apply at mutual funds:
 
1.
Independence of the board — We believe that three-fourths of an investment company’s board should be made up of independent directors. This is consistent with a proposed SEC rule on investment company boards. The Investment Company Act requires 40% of the board to be independent, but in 2001, the SEC amended the Exemptive Rules to require that a majority of a mutual fund board be independent. In 2005, the SEC proposed increasing the independence threshold to 75%. In 2006, a federal appeals court ordered that this rule amendment be put back out for public comment, putting it back into “proposed rule” status. Since mutual fund boards play a vital role in overseeing the relationship between the fund and its investment manager, there is greater need for independent oversight than there is for an operating company board.
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2.
When the auditorisnotupforratification — We do not recommend voting against the audit committee if the auditor is not up for ratification. Due to the different legal structure of an investment company compared to an operating company, the auditor for the investment company (i.e., mutual fund) does not conduct the same level of financial review for each investment company as for an operating company.
 
3.
Non-independent chair — The SEC has proposed that the chair of the fund board be independent. We agree that the roles of a mutual fund’s chair and CEO should be separate. Although we believe this would be best at all companies, we recommend voting against the chair of an investment company’s nominating committee as well as the board chair if the chair and CEO of a mutual fund are the same person and the fund does not have an independent lead or presiding director. Seven former SEC commissioners support the appointment of an independent chair and we agree with them that “an independent board chair would be better able to create conditions favoring the long-term interests of fund shareholders than would a chair who is an executive of the advisor.” (See the comment letter sent to the SEC in support of the proposed rule at http://www.sec.gov/news/studies/indchair.pdf.)

4.
Multiple funds overseen by the same director — Unlike service on a public company board, mutual fund boards require much less of a time commitment. Mutual fund directors typically serve on dozens of other mutual fund boards, often within the same fund complex. The Investment Company Institute’s (“ICI”) Overview of Fund Governance Practices, 1994-2012, indicates that the average number of funds served by an independent director in 2012 was 53. Absent evidence that a specific director is hindered from being an effective board member at a fund due to service on other funds’ boards, we refrain from maintaining a cap on the number of outside mutual fund boards that we believe a director can serve on.
 
DECLASSIFIED BOARDS
 
Glass Lewis favors the repeal of staggered boards and the annual election of directors. We believe staggered boards are less accountable to shareholders than boards that are elected annually. Furthermore, we feel the annual election of directors encourages board members to focus on shareholder interests.

Empirical studies have shown: (i) staggered boards are associated with a reduction in a firm’s valuation; and (ii) in the context of hostile takeovers, staggered boards operate as a takeover defense, which entrenches management, discourages potential acquirers, and delivers a lower return to target shareholders.

In our view, there is no evidence to demonstrate that staggered boards improve shareholder returns in a takeover context. Some research has indicated that shareholders are worse off when a staggered board blocks a transaction; further, when a staggered board negotiates a friendly transaction, no statistically significant difference in premium occurs.40 Additional research found that charter-based staggered boards “reduce the market value of a firm by 4% to 6% of its market capitalization” and that “staggered boards bring about and  not merely reflect this reduction in market value.”41 A subsequent study reaffirmed that  classified  boards reduce shareholder value, finding “that the ongoing process of dismantling staggered boards, encouraged by institutional investors, could well contribute to increasing shareholder wealth.”42
 

40  Lucian Bebchuk, John Coates IV, Guhan Subramanian, “The Powerful Antitakeover Force of Staggered Boards: Further Findings and a Reply to Symposium Participants,” 55 Stanford Law Review 885-917 (2002).
41  Lucian Bebchuk, Alma Cohen, “The Costs of Entrenched Boards” (2004).
42  Lucian Bebchuk, Alma Cohen and Charles C.Y. Wang, “Staggered Boards and the Wealth of Shareholders: Evidence from a Natural Experiment,” SSRN:  http://ssrn.com/abstract=1706806  (2010),  p. 26.

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Shareholders have increasingly come to agree with this view. In 2016, 92% of S&P 500 companies had declas- sified boards, up from approximately 40% a decade ago.43 Management proposals to declassify boards are approved with near unanimity and shareholder proposals on the topic also receive strong shareholder support; in 2014, shareholder proposals requesting that companies declassify their boards received average support of 84% (excluding abstentions and broker non-votes), whereas in 1987, only 16.4% of votes cast favored board declassification.44 Further, a growing number of companies, nearly half of all those targeted by shareholder proposals requesting that all directors stand for election annually, either recommended shareholders support the proposal or made no recommendation, a departure from the more traditional management recommenda- tion to vote against shareholder proposals.
 
Given our belief that declassified boards promote director accountability, the empirical evidence suggesting staggered boards reduce a company’s value and the established shareholder opposition to such a structure, Glass Lewis supports the declassification of boards and the annual election of directors.
 
BOARD COMPOSITION AND REFRESHMENT
 
Glass Lewis strongly supports routine director evaluation, including independent external reviews, and periodic board refreshment to foster the sharing of diverse perspectives in the boardroom and the generation of new ideas and business strategies. Further, we believe the board should evaluate the need for changes to board composition based on an analysis of skills and experience necessary for the company, as well as the results of the director evaluations, as opposed to relying solely on age or tenure limits. When necessary, shareholders can address concerns regarding proper board composition through director elections.
 
In our view, a director’s experience can be a valuable asset to shareholders because of the complex, critical issues that boards face. This said, we recognize that in rare circumstances, a lack of refreshment can contribute to a lack of board responsiveness to poor company performance.
 
On occasion, age or term limits can be used as a means to remove  a director for boards that are unwilling to police their membership and enforce turnover. Some shareholders support term limits as a way to force change in such circumstances.
 
While we understand that age limits can aid board succession planning, the long-term impact of age limits restricts experienced and potentially valuable board members from service through an arbitrary means. We believe that shareholders are better off monitoring the board’s overall composition, including the diversity of its members, the alignment of the board’s areas of expertise with a company’s strategy, the board’s approach to corporate governance, and its stewardship of company performance, rather than imposing inflexible rules that don’t necessarily correlate with returns or benefits for shareholders.
 
However, if a board adopts term/age limits, it should follow through and not waive such limits. If the board waives its term/age limits, Glass Lewis will consider recommending shareholders vote against the nominating and/or governance committees, unless the rule was waived with sufficient explanation, such as consummation of a corporate transaction like a merger.
 
BOARD GENDER DIVERSITY
 
Glass Lewis recognizes the importance of ensuring that the board is comprised of directors who have a diversity of skills, thought and experience, as such diversity benefits companies by providing a broad range of perspectives and insights.45 As with previous years, Glass Lewis will continue to closely review the composition of the board and may note as a concern instances where we believe the board lacks representation of diverse director candidates, including those boards which have no female directors.
 

43  Spencer Stuart Board Index, 2016, p. 14.
44  Lucian Bebchuk, John Coates IV and Guhan Subramanian, “The Powerful Antitakeover Force of Staggered Boards: Theory, Evidence, and Policy”.
45  http://www.glasslewis.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2017-In-Depth-Report-Gender-Diversity.pdf.

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In 2018, we will not make voting recommendations solely on the basis of the diversity of the board. Rather, it will be one of many considerations we make when evaluating companies’ oversight structures. Beginning in 2019, however, Glass Lewis will generally recommend voting against the nominating committee chair of a board that has no female members. Depending on other factors, including the size of the company, the industry in which the company operates and the governance profile of the company, we may extend this recommendation to vote against other nominating committee members. When making these voting recommendations, we will carefully review a company’s disclosure of its diversity considerations and may refrain from recommending shareholders vote against directors of companies outside the Russell 3000 index, or when boards have provided a sufficient rationale for not having any female board members or have disclosed a plan to address the lack of diversity on the board.
 
PROXY ACCESS
 
In lieu of running their own contested election, proxy access would not only allow certain shareholders     to nominate directors to company boards but the shareholder nominees would be included on the company’s ballot, significantly enhancing the ability of shareholders to play a meaningful role in selecting their representatives. Glass Lewis generally supports affording shareholders the right to nominate director candidates to management’s proxy as a means to ensure that significant, long-term shareholders have an ability to nominate candidates to the board.

Companies generally seek shareholder approval to amend company bylaws to adopt proxy access in response to shareholder engagement or pressure, usually in the form of a shareholder proposal requesting proxy access, although some companies may adopt some elements of proxy access without prompting. Glass Lewis considers several factors when evaluating whether to support proposals for companies to adopt proxy access including the specified minimum ownership and holding requirement for shareholders to nominate one or more directors, as well as company size, performance and responsiveness to shareholders.

For a discussion of recent regulatory events in this area, along with a detailed overview of the Glass Lewis approach to Shareholder Proposals regarding Proxy Access, refer to Glass Lewis’ Proxy Paper Guidelines for Shareholder Initiatives, available at www.glasslewis.com.
 
MAJORITY VOTE FOR THE ELECTION OF DIRECTORS
 
Majority voting for the election of directors is fast becoming the de facto standard in corporate board elections. In our view, the majority voting proposals are an effort to make the case for shareholder impact on director elections on a company-specific basis.

While this proposal would not give shareholders the opportunity to nominate directors or lead to elections where shareholders have a choice among director candidates, if implemented, the proposal would allow shareholders to have a voice in determining whether the nominees proposed by the board should actually serve as the overseer-representatives of shareholders in the boardroom. We believe this would be a favorable outcome for shareholders.

The number of shareholder proposals requesting that companies adopt a majority voting standard has declined significantly during the past decade, largely as a result of widespread adoption of majority voting or director resignation policies at U.S. companies. In 2016, 88% of the S&P 500 Index had implemented a resignation policy for directors failing to receive majority shareholder support, compared to 76% in 2011.46
 
THE PLURALITY VOTE  STANDARD
 
Today, most US companies still elect directors by a plurality vote standard. Under that standard, if one shareholder holding only one share votes in favor of a nominee (including that director, if the director is a shareholder), that nominee “wins” the election and assumes a seat on the board. The common concern among companies with a plurality voting standard is the possibility that one or more directors would not receive a majority of votes, resulting in “failed elections.”
 

46  Spencer Stuart Board Index, 2016, p. 12.
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ADVANTAGES OF A MAJORITY VOTE STANDARD
 
If a majority vote standard were implemented, a nominee would have to receive the support of a majority of the shares voted in order to be elected. Thus, shareholders could collectively vote to reject a director they believe will not pursue their best interests. Given that so few directors (less than 100 a year) do not receive majority support from shareholders, we think that a majority vote standard is reasonable since it will neither result in many failed director elections nor reduce the willingness of qualified, shareholder-focused directors to serve in the future. Further, most directors who fail to receive a majority shareholder vote in favor of their election do not step down, underscoring the need for true majority voting.

We believe that a majority vote standard will likely lead to more attentive directors. Although shareholders only rarely fail to support directors, the occasional majority vote against a director’s election will likely deter the election of directors with a record of ignoring shareholder interests. Glass Lewis will therefore generally support proposals calling for the election of directors by a majority vote, excepting contested director elections.

In response to the high level of support majority voting has garnered, many companies have voluntarily taken steps to implement majority voting or modified approaches to majority voting. These steps range from a modified approach requiring directors that receive a majority of withheld votes to resign (i.e., a resignation policy) to actually requiring a majority vote of outstanding shares to elect directors.

We feel that the modified approach does not go far enough because requiring a director to resign is not the same as requiring a majority vote to elect a director and does not allow shareholders a definitive voice in the election process. Further, under the modified approach, the corporate governance committee could reject      a resignation and, even if it accepts the resignation, the corporate governance committee decides on the director’s replacement. And since the modified approach is usually adopted as a policy by the board or a board committee, it could be altered by the same board or committee at any time.
 
CONFLICTING PROPOSALS
 
On January 16, 2015, the SEC announced that for the 2015 proxy season it would not opine on the application of Rule 14a-8(i)(9) that allows companies to exclude shareholder proposals, including those seeking proxy access, that conflict with a management proposal on the same issue. While the announcement did not render the rule ineffective, a number of companies opted not to exclude a shareholder proposal but rather to allow shareholders a vote on both management and shareholder proposals on the same issue, generally proxy access. The management proposals typically imposed more restrictive terms than the shareholder proposal in order to exercise the particular shareholder right at issue, e.g., a higher proxy access ownership threshold. On October 22, 2015, the SEC issued Staff Legal Bulletin No. 14H (“SLB 14H”) clarifying its rule concerning the exclusion of certain shareholder proposals when similar items are also on the ballot. SLB 14H increases the burden on companies to prove to SEC staff that a conflict exists; therefore, some companies may still choose to place management proposals alongside similar shareholder proposals in the coming year.

When Glass Lewis reviews conflicting management and shareholder proposals, we will consider the following:
 
The nature of the underlying issue;
 
The benefit to shareholders from implementation of the proposal;

The materiality of the differences between the terms of the shareholder proposal and management proposal;

The appropriateness of the provisions in the context of a company’s shareholder base, corporate structure and other relevant circumstances; and

A company’s overall governance profile and, specifically, its responsiveness to shareholders as evi- denced by a company’s response to previous shareholder proposals and its adoption of progressive shareholder rights provisions.
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Transparency and Integrity in Financial Reporting

 
AUDITOR RATIFICATION
 
The auditor’s role as gatekeeper is crucial in ensuring the integrity and transparency of the financial information necessary for protecting shareholder value. Shareholders rely on the auditor to ask tough questions and to do a thorough analysis of a company’s books to ensure that the information provided to shareholders is complete, accurate, fair, and that it is a reasonable representation of a company’s financial position. The only way shareholders can make rational investment decisions is if the market is equipped with accurate information about a company’s fiscal health. As stated in the October 6, 2008 Final Report of the Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession to the U.S. Department of the Treasury:

“The auditor is expected to offer critical and objective judgment on the financial matters under consideration, and actual and perceived absence of conflicts is critical to that expectation. The Committee believes that auditors, investors, public companies, and other market participants must understand the independence requirements and their objectives, and that auditors must adopt a mindset of skepticism when facing situations that may compromise their independence.”

As such, shareholders should demand an objective, competent and diligent auditor who performs at or above professional standards at every company in which the investors hold an  interest.  Like  directors,  auditors  should be free from conflicts of interest and should avoid situations requiring a choice between the auditor’s interests and the public’s interests. Almost without exception, shareholders should be able to annually review   an auditor’s performance and to annually  ratify  a  board’s  auditor  selection.  Moreover,  in  October  2008, the Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession went even further, and recommended that “to further enhance audit committee oversight and auditor accountability ... disclosure in the company proxy statement regarding shareholder ratification [should] include the name(s) of the senior auditing partner(s) staffed on the engagement.”47

On August 16, 2011, the PCAOB issued a Concept Release seeking public comment on ways that auditor independence, objectivity and professional skepticism could be enhanced, with a specific emphasis on mandatory audit firm rotation. The PCAOB convened several public roundtable meetings during  2012  to further discuss such matters. Glass Lewis believes auditor rotation can ensure both the independence of the auditor and the integrity of the audit; we will typically recommend supporting proposals to require auditor rotation when the proposal uses a reasonable period of time (usually not less than 5-7 years), particularly at companies with a history of accounting problems.
 
VOTING RECOMMENDATIONS ON AUDITOR RATIFICATION
 
We generally support management’s choice of auditor except when we believe the auditor’s independence  or audit integrity has been compromised. Where a board has not allowed shareholders to review  and ratify     an auditor, we typically recommend voting against the audit committee chair. When there have been material restatements of annual financial statements or material weaknesses in internal controls, we usually recommend voting against the entire audit committee.
 

47  “Final Report of the Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.” p. VIII:20, October 6, 2008.

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Reasons why we may not recommend ratification of an auditor  include:
 
1.
When audit fees plus audit-related fees total less than the tax fees and/or other non-audit fees.
 
2.
Recent material restatements of annual financial statements, including those resulting in the reporting of material weaknesses in internal controls and including late filings by the company where the auditor bears some responsibility for the restatement or late filing.48
 
3.
When the auditor performs prohibited services such as tax-shelter work, tax services for the CEO or CFO, or contingent-fee work, such as a fee based on a percentage of economic benefit to the company.
 
4.
When audit fees are excessively low, especially when compared with other companies in the same industry.
 
5.
When the company has aggressive accounting policies.
 
6.
When the company has poor disclosure or lack of transparency in its financial statements.
 
7.
Where the auditor limited its liability through its contract with the company or the audit contract requires the corporation to use alternative dispute resolution procedures without adequate justification.
 
8.
We also look for other relationships or concerns with the auditor that might suggest a conflict be- tween the auditor’s interests and shareholder interests.
 
PENSION ACCOUNTING ISSUES
 
A pension accounting question occasionally raised in proxy proposals is what effect, if any, projected returns on employee pension assets should have on a company’s net income. This issue often arises in the executive- compensation context in a discussion of the extent to which pension accounting should be reflected in business performance for purposes of calculating payments to executives.

Glass Lewis believes that pension credits should not be included in measuring income that is used to award performance-based compensation. Because many of the assumptions used in accounting  for  retirement plans are subject to the company’s discretion, management would have an obvious conflict of interest if pay were tied to pension income. In our view, projected income from pensions does not truly reflect a company’s performance.
 

48  An auditor does not audit interim financial statements. Thus, we generally do not believe that an auditor should be opposed due to a restatement of interim financial statements unless the nature of the misstatement is clear from a reading of the incorrect financial statements.

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The Link Between Compensation and Performance

 
Glass Lewis carefully reviews the compensation awarded to senior executives, as we believe that this is an important area in which the board’s priorities are revealed. Glass Lewis strongly believes executive compensation should be linked directly with the performance of the business the executive is charged with managing. We believe the most effective compensation arrangements provide for an appropriate mix of performance-based short- and long-term incentives in addition to fixed pay elements while promoting a prudent and sustainable level  of risk-taking.
 
Glass Lewis believes that comprehensive, timely and transparent disclosure of executive pay is critical to allowing shareholders to evaluate the extent to which pay is aligned with company performance. When reviewing proxy materials, Glass Lewis examines whether the company discloses the performance metrics used to determine executive compensation. We recognize performance metrics must necessarily vary depending on the company and industry, among other factors, and may include a wide variety of financial measures as well as industry-specific performance indicators. However, we believe companies should disclose why the specific performance metrics were selected and how the actions they are designed to incentivize will lead to better corporate performance.
 
Moreover, it is rarely in shareholders’ interests to disclose competitive data about individual salaries below the senior executive level. Such disclosure could create internal personnel discord that would be counterproductive for the company and its shareholders. While we favor full disclosure for senior executives and we view pay disclosure at the aggregate level (e.g., the number of employees being paid over a certain amount or in certain categories) as potentially useful, we do not believe share-holders need or will benefit from detailed reports about individual management employees other than the most senior executives.
 
ADVISORY VOTE ON EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION (“SAY-ON-PAY”)
 
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) required companies to hold an advisory vote on executive compensation at the first shareholder meeting that occurs six months after enactment of the bill (January 21, 2011).

This practice of allowing shareholders a non-binding vote on a company’s compensation report is standard practice in many non-US countries, and has been a requirement for most companies in the United Kingdom since 2003 and in Australia since 2005. Although say-on-pay proposals are non-binding, a high level of “against” or “abstain” votes indicates substantial shareholder concern about a company’s compensation policies and procedures.

Given the complexity of most companies’ compensation programs, Glass Lewis applies a highly nuanced approach when analyzing advisory votes on executive compensation. We review each company’s compensation on a case-by-case basis, recognizing that each company must be examined in the context of industry, size, maturity, performance, financial condition, its historic pay for performance practices, and any other relevant internal or external factors.

We believe that each company should design and apply specific compensation policies and practices that  are appropriate to the circumstances of the company and, in particular, will attract and retain competent executives and other staff, while motivating them to grow the company’s long-term shareholder   value.

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Where we find those specific policies and practices serve to reasonably align compensation with performance, and such practices are adequately disclosed, Glass Lewis will recommend supporting the company’s approach. If, however, those specific policies and practices fail to demonstrably link compensation with performance, Glass Lewis will generally recommend voting against the say-on-pay proposal.
 
Glass Lewis reviews say-on-pay proposals on both a qualitative basis and a quantitative basis, with a focus on several main areas:
 
The overall design and structure of the company’s executive compensation programs including selection and challenging nature of performance metrics;
 
The implementation and effectiveness of the company’s executive compensation programs including pay mix and use of performance metrics in determining pay  levels;
 
The quality and content of the company’s disclosure;
 
The quantum paid to executives; and
 
The link between compensation and performance as indicated by the company’s current and past pay-for-performance grades.
 
We also review any significant changes or modifications, and the rationale for such changes, made to the company’s compensation structure or award amounts, including base salaries.
 
SAY-ON-PAY  VOTING  RECOMMENDATIONS
 
In cases where we find deficiencies in a company’s compensation program’s design, implementation or management, we will recommend that shareholders vote against the say-on-pay proposal. Generally such instances include evidence of a pattern of poor pay-for-performance practices (i.e., deficient or failing pay- for-performance grades), unclear or questionable disclosure regarding the overall compensation structure (e.g., limited information regarding benchmarking processes, limited rationale for bonus performance metrics and targets, etc.), questionable adjustments to certain aspects of the overall compensation structure (e.g., limited rationale for significant changes to performance targets or metrics, the payout of guaranteed bonuses or sizable retention grants, etc.), and/or other egregious compensation practices.

Although not an exhaustive list, the following issues when weighed together may cause Glass Lewis to recommend voting against a say-on-pay vote:

Inappropriate peer group and/or benchmarking issues;
 
Inadequate or no rationale for changes to peer groups;
 
Egregious or excessive bonuses, equity awards or severance payments, including golden handshakes and golden parachutes;

Problematic contractual payments, such as guaranteed bonuses;
 
Targeting overall levels of compensation at higher than median without adequate justification;
 
Performance targets not sufficiently challenging, and/or  providing for high potential   payouts;
 
Performance targets lowered without justification;
 
Discretionary bonuses paid when short- or long-term incentive plan targets were not met;
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Executive pay high relative to peers not justified by outstanding company performance; and
 
The terms of the long-term incentive plans are inappropriate (please see “Long-Term Incentives” on page 30).

In instances where a company has simply failed to provide sufficient disclosure of its policies, we may recommend shareholders vote against this proposal solely on this basis, regardless of the appropriateness of compensation levels.

Where we identify egregious compensation practices, we may also recommend voting against the compensation committee based on the practices or actions of its members during the year. Such practices may include: approving large one-off payments, the inappropriate, unjustified use of discretion, or sustained poor pay for performance practices.
 
COMPANY RESPONSIVENESS
 
At companies that received a significant level of shareholder opposition (20% or greater) to their say-on-pay proposal at the previous annual meeting, we believe the board should demonstrate some level of engagement and responsiveness to the shareholder concerns behind the discontent, particularly in response to shareholder engagement. While we recognize that sweeping changes cannot be made to a compensation program without due consideration and that a majority of shareholders voted in favor of the proposal, given that the average approval rate for say-on-pay proposals is about 90% we believe the compensation committee should provide some level of response to a significant vote against, including engaging with large shareholders to identify their concerns. In the absence of any evidence that the board is actively engaging shareholders on these issues and responding accordingly, we may recommend holding compensation committee members accountable for failing to adequately respond to shareholder opposition, giving careful consideration to the level of shareholder protest and the severity and history of compensation problems.
 
PAY FOR PERFORMANCE
 
Glass Lewis believes an integral part of a well-structured compensation package is a successful link between pay and performance. Our proprietary pay-for-performance model was developed to better evaluate the link between pay and performance of the top five executives at US companies. Our model benchmarks these executives’ pay and company performance against peers selected using Equilar’s market-based peer groups and across five performance metrics. By measuring the magnitude of the gap between two weighted-average percentile rankings (executive compensation and performance), we rank companies based on a grade system. The grades guide our evaluation of compensation committee effectiveness, and we generally recommend voting against compensation committee members at companies with a pattern of failing our pay-for- performance analysis. Unlike a school letter system, however, the letter “C” in the Glass Lewis grade system does not indicate a significant lapse; rather, a “C” in the Glass Lewis grade system identifies companies where the pay and performance percentile rankings relative to peers are generally aligned. This suggests that the company neither overpays nor underpays its executives relative to its comparator group.

The grades “A” and “B” are also designated to companies which align pay with performance. However, these grades indicate lower compensation levels relative to the market and to company performance. A “B” grade stems from slightly higher performance levels in comparison to market peers while executives earn relatively less than peers. Receiving an “A” in our analysis shows that the company is paying significantly less than peers while outperforming the comparator group.

A grade of “D” or “F” in our analysis is due to high pay and low performance relative to the comparator group. In our analysis, we differentiate between a disconnect between pay and performance, “D”, and a significant disconnect, “F”. An “F” grade in our analysis indicates that executives receive significantly higher compensation than peers while underperforming the market.

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We also use this analysis to inform our voting decisions on say-on-pay proposals. As such, if a company receives a failing grade from our proprietary model, we are more likely to recommend that shareholders vote against the say-on-pay proposal. However, other qualitative factors such as an effective overall incentive structure, the relevance of selected performance metrics, significant forthcoming enhancements or reasonable long-term payout levels may give us cause to recommend in favor of a proposal even when we have identified a disconnect between pay and performance.
 
SHORT-TERM INCENTIVES
 
A short-term bonus or incentive (“STI”) should be demonstrably tied to performance. Whenever possible, we believe a mix of corporate and individual performance measures is appropriate. We would normally expect performance measures for STIs to be based on company-wide or divisional financial measures as well as non- financial factors such as those related to safety, environmental issues, and customer satisfaction. While we recognize that companies operating in different sectors or markets may seek to utilize a wide range of metrics, we expect such measures to be appropriately tied to a company’s business drivers.

Further, the target and potential maximum awards that can be achieved under STI awards should be disclosed. Shareholders should expect stretching performance targets for the maximum award to be achieved. Any increase in the potential target and maximum award should be clearly justified to shareholders.

Glass Lewis recognizes that disclosure of some measures may include commercially confidential information. Therefore, we believe it may be reasonable to exclude such information in some cases as long as the company provides sufficient justification for non-disclosure. However, where a short-term bonus has been paid, companies should disclose the extent to which performance has been achieved against relevant targets, including disclosure of the actual target achieved.

Where management has received significant STIs but short-term performance over the previous year prima facie appears to be poor or negative, we believe the company should provide a clear explanation of why these significant short-term payments were made. In addition, we believe that where companies use non-GAAP or bespoke metrics, clear reconciliations between these figures and GAAP figures in audited financial statement should be provided.
 
LONG-TERM INCENTIVES
 
Glass Lewis recognizes the value of equity-based incentive programs, which are often the primary long-term incentive for executives. When used appropriately, they can provide a vehicle for linking an executive’s pay to company performance, thereby aligning their interests with those of shareholders. In addition, equity-based compensation can be an effective way to attract, retain and motivate key employees.
 
There are certain elements that Glass Lewis believes are common to most well-structured long-term incentive (“LTI”) plans. These include:
 
No re-testing or lowering of performance conditions;
 
Performance metrics that cannot be easily manipulated by management;
 
Two or more performance metrics;
 
At least one relative performance metric that compares the company’s performance to a relevant peer group or index;
 
Performance periods of at least three years;
 
Stretching metrics that incentivize executives to strive for outstanding performance while not en- couraging excessive risk-taking; and
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Individual limits expressed as a percentage of base salary.
 
Performance measures should be carefully selected and should relate to the specific business/industry in which the company operates and, especially, the key value drivers of the company’s business. As with short- term incentive plans, the basis for any adjustments to metrics or results should be clearly explained.

While cognizant of the inherent complexity of certain performance metrics, Glass Lewis generally believes that measuring a company’s performance with multiple metrics serves to provide a more complete picture of the company’s performance than a single metric; further, reliance on just one metric may focus too much management attention on a single target and is therefore more susceptible to manipulation. When utilized for relative measurements, external benchmarks such as a sector index or peer group should be disclosed and transparent. The rationale behind the selection of a specific index or peer group should also be disclosed. Internal benchmarks should also be disclosed and transparent, unless a cogent case for confidentiality is made and fully explained. Similarly, actual performance and vesting levels for previous grants earned during the fiscal year should be disclosed.
 
We also believe shareholders should evaluate the relative success of a company’s compensation programs, particularly with regard to existing equity-based incentive plans, in linking pay and performance when evaluating new LTI plans to determine the impact of additional stock awards. We will therefore review the company’s pay-for-performance grade (see below for more information) and specifically the proportion of total compensation that is stock-based.
 
TRANSITIONAL AND ONE-OFF AWARDS
 
Glass Lewis believes shareholders should generally be wary of awards granted outside of the standard incentive schemes outlined above, as such awards have the potential to undermine the integrity of a company’s regular incentive plans, the link between pay and performance or both. We generally believe that if the existing incentive programs fail to provide adequate incentives to executives, companies should redesign their compensation programs rather than make additional grants.
 
However, we recognize that in certain circumstances, additional incentives may be appropriate. In these cases, companies should provide a thorough description of the awards, including a cogent and convincing explanation of their necessity and why existing awards  do not provide sufficient motivation. Further,  such awards  should   be tied to future service and performance whenever possible.
 
Similarly, we acknowledge that there may be certain costs associated with transitions at the executive level. We believe that sign-on arrangements should be clearly disclosed and accompanied by a meaningful explanation of the payments and the process by which the amounts are reached. Furthermore, the details of and basis for any “make-whole” payments (which are paid as compensation for forfeited awards from a previous employer) should be provided.
 
While in limited circumstances such deviations may not be inappropriate, we believe shareholders should be provided with a meaningful explanation of any additional benefits agreed upon outside of the regular arrange- ments. For severance or sign-on arrangements, we may consider the executive’s regular target compensation levels or the sums paid to other executives (including the recipient’s predecessor, where applicable) in evaluat- ing the appropriateness of such an arrangement.
 
Additionally, we believe companies making supplemental or one-time awards should also describe if and how the regular compensation arrangements will be affected by these additional grants. In reviewing a company’s use of supplemental awards, Glass Lewis will evaluate the terms and size of the grants in the context of the company’s overall incentive strategy and granting practices, as well as the current operating environment.
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RECOUPMENT  PROVISIONS  (“CLAWBACKS”)
 
We believe it is prudent for boards to adopt detailed and stringent bonus recoupment policies to prevent executives from retaining performance-based awards that were not truly earned. We believe such “clawback” policies should be triggered in the event of a restatement of financial results or similar revision of performance indicators upon which bonuses were based. Such policies would allow the board to review all performance- related bonuses and awards made to senior executives during the period covered by a restatement and would, to the extent feasible, allow the company to recoup such bonuses in the event that performance goals were not actually achieved. We further believe clawback policies should be subject to only limited discretion to ensure the integrity of such policies.

Section 954 of the Dodd-Frank Act requires the SEC to create a rule requiring listed companies to adopt policies for recouping certain compensation during a three-year look-back period. The rule applies to incentive-based compensation paid to current or former executives if the company is required to prepare an accounting restatement due to erroneous data resulting from material non-compliance with any financial reporting requirements under the securities laws. However, the SEC has yet to finalize the relevant rules.

These recoupment provisions are more stringent than under Section 304 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in three respects: (i) the provisions extend to current or former executive officers rather than only to the CEO and CFO; (ii) it has a three-year look-back period (rather than a twelve-month look-back period); and (iii) it allows for recovery of compensation based upon a financial restatement due to erroneous data, and therefore does not require misconduct on the part of the executive or other employees.
 
HEDGING OF STOCK
 
Glass Lewis believes that the hedging of shares by executives in the shares of the companies where they are employed severs the alignment of interests of the executive with shareholders. We believe companies should adopt strict policies to prohibit executives from hedging the economic risk associated with their shareownership in the company.
 
PLEDGING OF STOCK
 
Glass Lewis believes that shareholders should examine the facts and circumstances of each company rather than apply a one-size-fits-all policy regarding employee stock pledging. Glass Lewis believes that shareholders benefit when employees, particularly senior executives have “skin-in-the-game” and therefore recognizes the benefits of measures designed to encourage employees to both buy shares out of their own pocket and to retain shares they have been granted; blanket policies prohibiting stock pledging may discourage executives and employees from doing either.

However, we also recognize that the pledging of shares can present a risk that, depending on a host of factors, an executive with significant pledged shares and limited other assets may have an incentive to take steps to avoid a forced sale of shares in the face of a rapid stock price decline. Therefore, to avoid substantial losses from a forced sale to meet the terms of the loan, the executive may have an incentive to boost the stock price in the short term in a manner that is unsustainable, thus hurting shareholders in the long-term. We also recognize concerns regarding pledging may not apply to less senior employees, given the latter group’s significantly  more limited influence over a company’s stock price. Therefore, we believe that the issue of pledging shares should be reviewed in that context, as should polices that distinguish between the two groups.

Glass Lewis believes that the benefits of stock ownership by executives and employees may outweigh the risks of stock pledging, depending on many factors. As such, Glass Lewis reviews all relevant factors in evaluating proposed policies, limitations and prohibitions on pledging stock, including:

The number of shares pledged;
 
The percentage executives’ pledged shares are of outstanding shares;
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The percentage executives’ pledged shares are of each executive’s shares and total assets;
 
Whether the pledged shares were purchased by the employee or granted by the company;
 
Whether there are different policies for purchased and granted shares;
 
Whether the granted shares were time-based or performance-based;
 
The overall governance profile of the company;
 
The volatility of the company’s stock (in order to determine the likelihood of a sudden stock price drop);

The nature and cyclicality, if applicable, of the company’s industry;
 
The participation and eligibility of executives and employees in pledging;
 
The company’s current policies regarding pledging and any waiver from these policies for employees and executives; and
 
Disclosure of the extent of any pledging, particularly among senior executives.
 
COMPENSATION  CONSULTANT INDEPENDENCE

As mandated by Section 952 of the Dodd-Frank Act, as of January 11, 2013, the SEC approved new listing requirements for both the NYSE and NASDAQ which require compensation committees to consider six factors in assessing compensation advisor independence. These factors include: (1) provision of other services to the company; (2) fees paid by the company as a percentage of the advisor’s total annual revenue; (3) policies and procedures of the advisor to mitigate conflicts of interests; (4) any business or personal relationships of the consultant with any member of the compensation committee; (5) any company stock held by the consultant; and (6) any business or personal relationships of the consultant with any executive officer of the company. According to the SEC, “no one factor should be viewed as a determinative factor.” Glass Lewis believes this six-factor assessment is an important process for every compensation committee to undertake but believes companies employing a consultant for board compensation, consulting and other corporate services should provide clear disclosure beyond just a reference to examining the six points to allow shareholders to review the specific aspects of the various consultant relationships.

We believe compensation consultants are engaged to provide objective, disinterested, expert advice to the compensation committee. When the consultant or its affiliates receive substantial income from providing other services to the company, we believe the potential for a conflict of interest arises and the independence of the consultant may be jeopardized. Therefore, Glass Lewis will, when relevant, note the potential for a conflict of interest when the fees paid to the advisor or its affiliates for other services exceeds those paid for compensation consulting.
 
CEO PAY  RATIO
 
As mandated by Section 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Wall  Street Consumer and Protection Act, beginning in  2018, issuers will be required to disclose the median annual total compensation of all employees except the CEO, the total annual compensation of the CEO or equivalent position, and the ratio between the two amounts. Glass Lewis will display the pay ratio as a data point in our Proxy Papers, as available. While we recognize that the pay ratio has the potential to provide additional insight when assessing a company’s pay practices, at this time it will not be a determinative factor in our voting recommendations.
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FREQUENCY OF SAY-ON-PAY
 
The Dodd-Frank Act also requires companies to allow shareholders a non-binding vote on the frequency of say-on-pay votes, i.e. every one, two or three years. Additionally, Dodd-Frank requires companies to hold such votes on the frequency of say-on-pay votes at least once every six years.
 
We believe companies should submit say-on-pay votes to shareholders every year. We believe that the time  and financial burdens to a company with regard to an annual vote are relatively small and incremental and are outweighed by the benefits to shareholders through more frequent accountability. Implementing biannual or triennial votes on executive  compensation limits shareholders’ ability to hold the board accountable for its compensation practices through means other than voting against the compensation committee. Unless a company provides a compelling rationale or unique circumstances for say-on-pay votes less frequent than annually, we will generally recommend that shareholders support annual votes on  compensation.
 
VOTE ON GOLDEN PARACHUTE  ARRANGEMENTS
 
The Dodd-Frank Act also requires companies to provide shareholders with a separate non-binding vote on approval of golden parachute compensation arrangements in connection with certain change-in-control trans- actions. However, if the golden parachute arrangements have previously been subject to a say-on-pay vote which shareholders approved, then this required vote is  waived.

Glass Lewis believes the narrative and tabular disclosure of golden parachute arrangements benefits all shareholders. Glass Lewis analyzes each golden parachute arrangement on a case-by-case basis, taking into account, among other items: the nature of the change-in-control transaction, the ultimate value of the payments particularly compared to the value of the transaction, any excise tax gross-up obligations, the tenure and position of the executives in question before and after the transaction, any new or amended employment agreements entered into in connection with the transaction, and the type of triggers involved (i.e., single vs. double).
 
EQUITY-BASED COMPENSATION PLAN PROPOSALS
 
We believe that equity compensation awards, when not abused, are useful for retaining employees and providing an incentive for them to act in a way that will improve company performance. Glass Lewis recognizes that equity-based compensation plans are critical components of a company’s overall compensation program and we analyze such plans accordingly based on both quantitative and qualitative factors.

Our quantitative analysis assesses the plan’s cost and the company’s pace of granting utilizing a number of different analyses, comparing the program with absolute limits we believe are key to equity value creation and with a carefully chosen peer group. In general, our model seeks to determine whether the proposed plan is either absolutely excessive or is more than one standard deviation away from the average plan for the peer group on a range of criteria, including dilution to shareholders and the projected annual cost relative to the company’s financial performance. Each of the analyses (and their constituent parts) is weighted and the plan is scored in accordance with that weight.

We compare the program’s expected annual expense with the business’s operating metrics to help determine whether the plan is excessive in light of company performance. We also compare the plan’s expected annual cost to the enterprise value of the firm rather than to market capitalization because the employees, managers and directors of the firm contribute to the creation of enterprise value but not necessarily market capitalization (the biggest difference is seen where cash represents the vast majority of market capitalization). Finally, we do not rely exclusively on relative comparisons with averages because, in addition to creeping averages serving to inflate compensation, we believe that some absolute limits are warranted.

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We then consider qualitative aspects of the plan such as plan administration, the method and terms of exercise, repricing history, express or implied rights to reprice, and the presence of evergreen provisions. We also closely review the choice and use of, and difficulty in meeting, the awards’ performance metrics and targets, if any. We believe significant changes to the terms of a plan should be explained for shareholders and clearly indicated. Other factors such as a company’s size and operating environment may also be relevant in assessing the severity of concerns or the benefits of certain changes. Finally, we may consider a company’s executive compensation practices in certain situations, as applicable.
 
We evaluate equity plans based on certain overarching  principles:
 
Companies should seek more shares only when needed;
 
Requested share amounts should be small enough that companies seek shareholder approval every three to four years (or more  frequently);
 
If a plan is relatively expensive, it should not grant options solely to senior executives and board members;
 
Dilution of annual net share count or voting power, along with the “overhang” of incentive plans, should be limited;
 
Annual cost of the plan (especially if not shown on the income statement) should be reasonable as    a percentage of financial results and should be in line with the peer  group;
 
The expected annual cost of the plan should be proportional to the business’s value;
 
The intrinsic value that option grantees received in the past should be reasonable compared with the business’s financial results;
 
Plans should not permit re-pricing of stock options;
 
Plans should not contain excessively liberal administrative or payment terms;
 
Plans should not count shares in ways that understate the potential dilution, or cost, to common shareholders. This refers to “inverse” full-value award multipliers;
 
Selected performance metrics should be challenging and appropriate, and should be subject to relative performance measurements; and
 
Stock grants should be subject to minimum vesting and/or holding periods sufficient to ensure sustainable performance and promote retention.
 
OPTION EXCHANGES
 
Glass Lewis views option repricing plans and option exchange programs with great skepticism. Shareholders have substantial risk in owning stock and we believe that the employees, officers, and directors who receive stock options should be similarly situated to align their interests with shareholder interests.

We are concerned that option grantees who believe they will be “rescued” from underwater options will be more inclined to take unjustifiable risks. Moreover, a predictable pattern of repricing or exchanges substantially alters a stock option’s value because options that will practically never expire deeply out of the money are worth far more than options that carry a risk of expiration.

In short, repricings and option exchange programs change the bargain between shareholders and employees after the bargain has been struck.
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There isone circumstance in which a repricing or option exchange program may be acceptable: ifmacroeconomic or industry trends, rather than specific company issues, cause a stock’s value to decline dramatically and the repricing is necessary to motivate and retain employees. In this circumstance, we think it fair to conclude that option grantees may be suffering from a risk that was not foreseeable when the original “bargain” was struck. In such a circumstance, we will recommend supporting a repricing if the following conditions are true:
 
Officers and board members cannot participate in the program;
 
The stock decline mirrors the market or industry price decline in terms of timing and approximates the decline in magnitude;
 
The exchange is value-neutral or value-creative to shareholders using very conservative assumptions and with a recognition of the adverse selection problems inherent in voluntary programs; and
 
Management and the board make a cogent case for needing to motivate and retain existing employees, such as being in a competitive employment market.
 
OPTION BACKDATING,  SPRING-LOADING AND  BULLET-DODGING
 
Glass Lewis views option backdating, and the related practices of spring-loading and bullet-dodging, as egregious actions that warrant holding the appropriate management and board members responsible. These practices are similar to re-pricing options and eliminate much of the downside risk inherent in an option grant that is designed to induce recipients to maximize shareholder return.

Backdating an option is the act of changing an option’s grant date from the actual grant date to an earlier date when the market price of the underlying stock was lower, resulting in a lower exercise price for the option. Since 2006, Glass Lewis has identified over 270 companies that have disclosed internal or government investigations into their past stock-option grants.

Spring-loading is granting stock options while in possession of material, positive information that has not been disclosed publicly. Bullet-dodging is delaying the grants of stock options until after the release of material, negative information. This can allow option grants to be made at a lower price either before the release of positive news or following the release of negative news, assuming the stock’s price will move up or down in response to the information. This raises a concern similar to that of insider trading, or the trading on material non-public information.

The exercise price for an option is determined on the day of grant, providing the recipient with the same market risk as an investor who bought shares on that date. However, where options were backdated, the executive or the board (or the compensation committee) changed the grant date retroactively. The new date may be at or near the lowest price for the year or period. This would be like allowing an investor to look back and select the lowest price of the year at which to buy shares.

A 2006 study of option grants made between 1996 and 2005 at 8,000 companies found that option backdating can be an indication of poor internal controls. The study found that option backdating was more likely to occur at companies without a majority independent board and with a long-serving CEO; both factors, the study concluded, were associated with greater CEO influence on the company’s compensation and governance practices.49

Where a company granted backdated options to an executive who is also a director, Glass Lewis will recommend voting against that executive/director, regardless of who decided to make the award. In addition, Glass Lewis will recommend voting against those directors who either approved or allowed the backdating. Glass Lewis feels that executives and directors who either benefited from backdated options or authorized the practice have breached their fiduciary responsibility to shareholders.
 

49  Lucian Bebchuk, Yaniv Grinstein and Urs Peyer. “LUCKY CEOs.” November, 2006.

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Given the severe tax and legal liabilities to the company from backdating, Glass Lewis will consider recommending voting against members of the audit committee who served when options were backdated, a restatement occurs, material weaknesses in internal controls exist and disclosures indicate there was a lack of documentation. These committee members failed in their responsibility to ensure the integrity of the company’s financial reports.
 
When a company has engaged in spring-loading or bullet-dodging, Glass Lewis will consider recommending voting against the compensation committee members where there has been a pattern of granting options at or near historic lows. Glass Lewis will also recommend voting against executives serving on the board who benefited from the spring-loading or   bullet-dodging.
 
DIRECTOR COMPENSATION PLANS
 
Glass Lewis believes that non-employee directors should receive reasonable and appropriate compensation for the time and effort they spend serving on the board and its committees. However, a balance is required. Fees should be competitive in order to retain and attract qualified individuals, but excessive fees represent a financial cost to the company and potentially compromise the objectivity and independence of non-employee directors. We will consider recommending supporting compensation plans that include option grants or other equity-based awards that help to align the interests of outside directors with those of shareholders. However, equity grants to directors should not be performance-based to ensure directors are not incentivized in the  same manner as executives but rather serve as a check on imprudent risk-taking in executive compensation plan design.
 
Glass Lewis uses a proprietary model and analyst review to evaluate the costs of equity plans compared to the plans of peer companies with similar market capitalizations. We use the results of this model to guide our voting recommendations on stock-based director compensation plans.
 
EMPLOYEE STOCK PURCHASE PLANS
 
Glass Lewis believes that employee stock purchase plans (“ESPPs”) can provide employees with a sense  of ownership in their company and help strengthen the alignment between the interests of employees and shareholders. We evaluate ESPPs by assessing the expected discount, purchase period, expected purchase activity (if previous activity has been disclosed) and whether the plan has a “lookback” feature. Except for the most extreme cases, Glass Lewis will generally support these plans given the regulatory purchase limit of $25,000 per employee per year, which we believe is reasonable. We also look at the number of shares requested to see if a ESPP will significantly contribute to overall shareholder dilution or if shareholders will not have a chance to approve the program for an excessive period of time. As such, we will generally recommend against ESPPs that contain “evergreen” provisions that automatically increase the number of shares available under the ESPP each year.
 
EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION TAX  DEDUCTIBILITY (IRS 162(M) COMPLIANCE)
 
Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code allows companies to deduct compensation in excess  of $1  million for the CEO and the next three most highly compensated executive  officers, excluding the CFO,  if the compensation is performance-based and is paid under shareholder-approved plans. Companies therefore submit incentive plans for shareholder approval to take of advantage of the tax deductibility afforded under 162(m) for certain types of compensation.

We believe the best practice for companies is to provide robust disclosure to shareholders so that they can make fully-informed judgments about the reasonableness of the proposed compensation plan. To allow for meaningful shareholder review, we prefer that disclosure should include specific performance metrics, a maximum award pool, and a maximum award amount per employee. We also believe it is important to analyze the estimated grants to see if they are reasonable and in line with the company’s peers.

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We typically recommend voting against a 162(m) proposal where: (i) a company fails to provide at least a list of performance targets; (ii) a company fails to provide one of either a total maximum or an individual maximum; or (iii) the proposed plan or individual maximum award limit is excessive when compared with the plans of the company’s peers.
 
The company’s record of aligning pay with performance (as evaluated using our proprietary pay-for- performance model) also plays a role in our recommendation. Where a company has a record of setting reasonable pay relative to business performance, we generally recommend voting in favor of a plan even if the plan caps seem large relative to peers because we recognize the value in special pay arrangements for continued exceptional performance.
 
As with all other issues we  review,  our goal is to provide consistent but contextual advice given the specifics    of the company and ongoing performance. Overall, we recognize that it is generally not in shareholders’ best interests to vote against such a plan and forgo the potential tax benefit since shareholder rejection of such plans will not curtail the awards; it will only prevent the tax deduction associated with them.

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Governance Structure and the Shareholder Franchise

 
ANTI-TAKEOVER MEASURES
 
POISON PILLS (SHAREHOLDER RIGHTS PLANS)
 
Glass Lewis believes that poison pill plans are not generally in shareholders’ best interests. They can reduce management accountability by  substantially  limiting  opportunities  for  corporate  takeovers.  Rights  plans  can thus prevent  shareholders from receiving a buy-out premium for their stock. Typically we  recommend    that shareholders vote against these plans to protect their financial interests and ensure that they have an opportunity to consider any offer for their shares, especially those at a premium.

We believe boards should be given wide latitude in directing company activities and in charting the company’s course. However, on an issue such as this, where the link between the shareholders’ financial interests and their right to consider and accept buyout offers is substantial, we believe that shareholders should be allowed to vote on whether they support such a plan’s implementation. This issue is different from other matters that are typically left to board discretion. Its potential impact on and relation to shareholders is direct and substantial. It is also an issue in which management interests may be different from those of shareholders; thus, ensuring that shareholders have a voice is the only way to safeguard their interests.

In certain circumstances, we will support a poison pill that is limited in scope to accomplish a particular objective, such as the closing of an important merger, or a pill that contains what we believe to be a reasonable qualifying offer clause. We  will consider supporting a poison pill plan if the qualifying offer clause includes    each of the following attributes:

The form of offer is not required to be an all-cash transaction;
 
The offer is not required to remain open for more than 90 business days;
 
The offeror is permitted to amend the offer, reduce the offer, or otherwise change the terms;
 
There is no fairness opinion requirement; and
 
There is a low to no premium requirement.
 
Where these requirements are met, we typically feel comfortable that shareholders will have the opportunity to voice their opinion on any legitimate offer.
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NOL POISON PILLS
 
Similarly, Glass Lewis may consider supporting a limited poison pill in the event that a company seeks shareholder approval of a rights plan for the express purpose of preserving Net Operating Losses (NOLs). While companies with NOLs can generally carry these losses forward to offset future taxable income, Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code limits companies’ ability to use NOLs in the event of a “change of ownership.”50 In this case, a company may adopt or amend a poison pill (“NOL pill”) in order to prevent an inadvertent change of ownership by multiple investors purchasing small chunks of stock at the same time, and thereby preserve the ability to carry the NOLs forward. Often such NOL pills have trigger thresholds much lower than the common 15% or 20% thresholds, with some NOL pill triggers as low as 5%.

Glass Lewis evaluates NOL pills on a strictly case-by-case basis taking into consideration, among other factors, the value of the NOLs to the company, the likelihood of a change of ownership based on the size of the holding and the nature of the larger shareholders, the trigger threshold and whether the term of the plan is limited in duration (i.e., whether it contains a reasonable “sunset” provision) or is subject to periodic board review and/ or shareholder ratification. However, we will recommend that shareholders vote against a proposal to adopt or amend a pill to include NOL protective provisions if the company has adopted a more narrowly tailored means of preventing a change in control to preserve its NOLs. For example, a company may limit share transfers in its charter to prevent a change of ownership from occurring.

Furthermore, we believe that shareholders should be offered the opportunity to vote on any adoption or renewal of a NOL pill regardless of any potential tax benefit that it offers a company. As such, we will consider recommending voting against those members of the board who served at the time when an NOL pill was adopted without shareholder approval within the prior twelve months and where the NOL pill is not subject to shareholder ratification.
 
FAIR PRICE PROVISIONS
 
Fair price provisions, which are rare, require that certain minimum price and procedural requirements be observed by any party that acquires more than a specified percentage of a corporation’s common stock. The provision is intended to protect minority shareholder value when an acquirer seeks to accomplish a merger or other transaction which would eliminate or change the interests of the minority shareholders. The provision is generally applied against the acquirer unless the takeover is approved by a majority of ”continuing directors” and holders of a majority, in some cases a supermajority as high as 80%, of the combined voting power of all stock entitled to vote to alter, amend, or repeal the above provisions.
 
The effect of a fair price provision is to require approval of any merger or business combination with an “interested shareholder” by 51% of the voting stock of the company, excluding the shares held by the interested shareholder. An interested shareholder is generally considered to be a holder of 10% or more of the company’s outstanding stock, but the trigger can vary.
 
Generally, provisions are put in place for the ostensible purpose of preventing a back-end merger where the interested shareholder would be able to pay a lower price for the remaining shares of the company than he or she paid to gain control. The effect of a fair price provision on shareholders, however, is to limit their ability to gain a premium for their shares through a partial tender offer or open market acquisition which typically raise the share price, often significantly. A fair price provision discourages such transactions because of the potential costs of seeking shareholder approval and because of the restrictions on purchase price for completing a merger or other transaction at a later time.
 

50  Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code refers to a “change of ownership” of more than 50 percentage points by one or more 5% shareholders within a three-year period. The statute is intended to deter the “trafficking” of net operating losses.

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Glass Lewis believes that fair price provisions, while sometimes protecting shareholders from abuse in a takeover situation, more often act as an impediment to takeovers, potentially limiting gains to shareholders from a variety of transactions that could significantly increase share price. In some cases, even the independent directors of the board cannot make exceptions when such exceptions may be in the best interests of shareholders. Given the existence of state law protections for minority shareholders such as Section 203 of the Delaware Corporations Code, we believe it is in the best interests of shareholders to remove fair price provisions.
 
REINCORPORATION
 
In general, Glass Lewis believes that the board is in the best position to determine the appropriate jurisdiction of incorporation for the company. When examining a management proposal to reincorporate to a different state or country, we review the relevant financial benefits, generally related to improved corporate tax treatment, as well as changes in corporate governance provisions, especially those relating to shareholder rights, resulting from the change in domicile. Where the financial benefits are de minimis and there is a decrease in shareholder rights, we will recommend voting against the transaction.

However, costly, shareholder-initiated reincorporations are typically not the best route to achieve the furtherance of shareholder rights. We believe shareholders are generally better served by proposing specific shareholder resolutions addressing pertinent issues which may be implemented at a lower cost, and perhaps even with board approval. However, when shareholders propose a shift into a jurisdiction with enhanced shareholder rights, Glass Lewis examines the significant ways would the company benefit from shifting jurisdictions including the following:

Is the board sufficiently independent?
 
Does the company have anti-takeover protections such as a poison pill or classified board in place?
 
Has the board been previously unresponsive to shareholders (such as failing to implement a share- holder proposal that received majority shareholder support)?

Do shareholders have the right to call special meetings of shareholders?
 
Are there other material governance issues of concern at the company?
 
Has the company’s performance matched or exceeded its peers in the past one and three years?
 
How has the company ranked in Glass Lewis’ pay-for-performance analysis during the last three years?

Does the company have an independent chair?
 
We note, however, that we will only support shareholder proposals to change a company’s place of incorpora- tion in exceptional circumstances.
 
EXCLUSIVE FORUM AND FEE-SHIFTING BYLAW  PROVISIONS
 
Glass Lewis recognizes that companies may be subject to frivolous and opportunistic lawsuits, particularly in conjunction with a merger or acquisition, that are expensive and distracting. In response, companies have sought ways to prevent or limit the risk of such suits by adopting bylaws regarding where the suits must be brought or shifting the burden of the legal expenses to the plaintiff, if unsuccessful at trial.

Glass Lewis believes that charter or bylaw provisions limiting a shareholder’s choice of legal venue are not in the best interests of shareholders. Such clauses may effectively discourage the use of shareholder claims by increasing their associated costs and making them more difficult to pursue. As such, shareholders should be wary about approving any limitation on their legal recourse including limiting themselves to a single jurisdiction (e.g., Delaware) without compelling evidence that it will benefit shareholders.

41

For this reason, we recommend that shareholders vote against any bylaw or charter amendment seeking to adopt an exclusive forum provision unless the company: (i) provides a compelling argument on why the provision would directly benefit shareholders; (ii) provides evidence of abuse of legal process in other, non- favored jurisdictions; (iii) narrowly tailors such provision to the risks involved; and (iv) maintains a strong record of good corporate governance practices.
 
Moreover, in the event a board seeks shareholder approval of a forum selection clause pursuant to a bundled bylaw amendment rather than as a separate proposal, we will weigh the importance of the other bundled provisions when determining the vote recommendation on the proposal. We will nonetheless recommend  voting against the chair of the governance committee for bundling disparate proposals into a single proposal (refer to our discussion of nominating and governance committee performance in Section I of the guidelines).
 
Similarly, some companies have adopted bylaws requiring plaintiffs who sue the company and fail to receive a judgment in their favor pay the legal expenses of the company. These bylaws, also known as “fee-shifting” or “loser pays” bylaws, will likely have a chilling effect on even meritorious shareholder lawsuits as shareholders would face an strong financial disincentive not to sue a company. Glass Lewis therefore strongly opposes the adoption of such fee-shifting bylaws and, if adopted without shareholder approval, will recommend voting against the governance committee. While we note that in June of 2015 the State of Delaware banned the adoption of fee-shifting bylaws, such provisions could still be adopted by companies incorporated in other states.
 
AUTHORIZED SHARES
 
Glass Lewis believes that adequate capital stock is important to a company’s operation. When analyzing a request for additional shares, we typically review four common reasons why a company might need additional capital stock:
 
1.
Stock  Split  — We typically consider three metrics when evaluating whether we think a stock split   is likely or necessary: The historical stock pre-split price, if any; the current price relative to the company’s most common trading price over the past 52 weeks; and some absolute limits on stock price that, in our view, either always make a stock split appropriate if desired by management or would almost never be a reasonable price at which to split a stock.
 
2.
Shareholder Defenses — Additional authorized shares could be used to bolster takeover defenses such as a poison pill. Proxy filings often discuss the usefulness of additional shares in defending against or discouraging a hostile takeover as a reason for a requested increase. Glass Lewis is typically against such defenses and will oppose actions intended to bolster such defenses.
 
3.
Financing for Acquisitions — We look at whether the company has a history of using stock for acquisitions and attempt to determine what levels of stock have typically been required to accomplish such transactions. Likewise, we look to see whether this is discussed as a reason for additional shares in the proxy.
 
4.
Financing for Operations — We review the company’s cash position and its ability to secure financing through borrowing or other means. We look at the company’s history of capitalization and whether the company has had to use stock in the recent past as a means of raising capital.
 
Issuing additional shares can dilute existing holders in limited circumstances. Further, the availability of  additional shares, where the board has discretion to implement a poison pill, can often serve as a deterrent     to interested suitors. Accordingly, where we find that the company has not detailed a plan for use of the proposed shares, or where the number of shares far exceeds those needed to accomplish a detailed plan, we typically recommend against the authorization of additional shares. Similar concerns may also lead us to recommend against a proposal to conduct a reverse stock split if the board does not state that it will reduce the number of authorized common shares in a ratio proportionate to the split.

42

While we think that having adequate shares to allow management to make quick decisions and effectively operate the business is critical, we prefer that, for significant transactions, management come to shareholders to justify their use of additional shares rather than providing a blank check in the form of a large pool of unallocated shares available for any purpose.
 
ADVANCE NOTICE REQUIREMENTS
 
We typically recommend that shareholders vote against proposals that would require advance notice of shareholder proposals or of director nominees.
 
These proposals typically attempt to require a certain amount of notice before shareholders are allowed to place proposals on the ballot. Notice requirements typically range between three to six months prior to the annual meeting. Advance notice requirements typically make it impossible for a shareholder who misses the deadline to present a shareholder proposal or a director nominee that might be in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.
 
We believe shareholders should be able to review and vote on all proposals and director nominees. Shareholders can always vote against proposals that appear with little prior notice. Shareholders, as owners of a business, are capable of identifying issues on which they have sufficient information and ignoring issues on which they have insufficient information. Setting arbitrary notice restrictions limits the opportunity for shareholders to raise issues that may come up after the window closes.
 
VIRTUAL SHAREHOLDER MEETINGS
 
A relatively small but growing contingent of companies have elected to hold shareholder meetings by virtual means only. Glass Lewis believes that virtual meeting technology can be a useful complement to a traditional, in-person shareholder meeting by expanding participation of shareholders who are unable to attend a shareholder meeting in person (i.e. a “hybrid meeting”). However, we also believe that virtual-only meetings have the potential to curb the ability of a company’s shareholders to meaningfully communicate with the company’s management.

Prominent shareholder rights advocates, including the Council of Institutional Investors, have expressed concerns that such virtual-only meetings do not approximate an in-person experience and may serve to reduce the board’s accountability to shareholders. When analyzing the governance profile of companies that choose to hold virtual-only meetings, we look for robust disclosure in a company’s proxy statement which assures shareholders that they will be afforded the same rights and opportunities to participate as they would at an in-person meeting.

In 2018, we will not make voting recommendations solely on the basis that a company is holding a virtual-only meeting. Beginning in 2019, however, Glass Lewis will generally recommend voting against members of the governance committee of a board where the board is planning to hold a virtual-only shareholder meeting and the company does not provide such disclosure.
43

VOTING STRUCTURE
 
DUAL-CLASS SHARE STRUCTURES
 
Glass Lewis believes dual-class voting structures are typically not in the best interests of common shareholders. Allowing one vote per share generally operates as a safeguard for common shareholders by ensuring that those who hold a significant minority of shares are able to weigh in on issues set forth by the board.

Furthermore, we believe that the economic stake of each shareholder should match their voting power and that no small group of shareholders, family or otherwise, should have voting rights different from those of other shareholders. On matters of governance and shareholder rights, we believe shareholders should have the power to speak and the opportunity to effect change. That power should not be concentrated in the hands of a few for reasons other than economic stake.

We generally consider a dual-class share structure to reflect negatively on a company’s overall corporate governance. Because we believe that companies should have share capital structures that protect the interests of non-controlling shareholders as well as any controlling entity, we typically recommend that shareholders vote in favor of recapitalization proposals to eliminate dual-class share structures. Similarly, we will generally recommend against proposals to adopt a new class of common stock.

With regards to our evaluation of corporate governance following an IPO or spin-off within the past year, we will now include the presence of dual-class share structures as an additional factor in determining whether shareholder rights are being severely restricted indefinitely.

When analyzing voting results from meetings of shareholders at companies controlled through dual-class structures, we will carefully examine the level of approval or disapproval attributed to unaffiliated shareholders when determining whether board responsiveness is warranted. Where vote results indicate that a majority of unaffiliated shareholders supported a shareholder proposal or opposed a management proposal, we believe the board should demonstrate an appropriate level of responsiveness.
 
CUMULATIVE VOTING
 
Cumulative voting increases the ability of minority shareholders to elect a director by allowing shareholders to cast as many shares of the stock they own multiplied by the number of directors to be elected. As companies generally have multiple nominees up for election, cumulative voting allows shareholders to cast all of their votes for a single nominee, or a smaller number of nominees than up for election, thereby raising the likelihood of electing one or more of their preferred nominees to the board. It can be important when a board is controlled by insiders or affiliates and where the company’s ownership structure includes one or more shareholders who control a majority-voting block of company stock.

Glass Lewis believes that cumulative voting generally acts as a safeguard for shareholders by ensuring that those who hold a significant minority of shares can elect a candidate of their choosing to the board. This allows the creation of boards that are responsive to the interests of all shareholders rather than just a small group of large holders.

We review cumulative voting proposals on a case-by-case basis, factoring in the independence of the board and the status of the company’s governance structure. But we typically find these proposals on ballots at companies where independence is lacking and where the appropriate checks and balances favoring shareholders are not in place. In those instances we typically recommend in favor of cumulative voting.

Where a company has adopted a true majority vote standard (i.e., where a director must receive a majority of votes cast to be elected, as opposed to a modified policy indicated by a resignation policy only), Glass Lewis will recommend voting against cumulative voting proposals due to the incompatibility of the two election methods. For companies that have not adopted a true majority voting standard but have adopted some form of majority voting, Glass Lewis will also generally recommend voting against cumulative voting proposals if the company has not adopted antitakeover protections and has been responsive to shareholders.

44

Where a company has not adopted a majority voting standard and is facing both a shareholder proposal to adopt majority voting and a shareholder proposal to adopt cumulative voting, Glass Lewis will support only the majority voting proposal. When a company has both majority voting and cumulative voting in place, there is a higher likelihood of one or more directors not being elected as a result of not receiving a majority vote. This is because shareholders exercising the right to cumulate their votes could unintentionally cause the failed election of one or more directors for whom shareholders do not cumulate votes.
 
SUPERMAJORITY VOTE REQUIREMENTS
 
Glass Lewis believes that supermajority vote requirements impede shareholder action on ballot items critical to shareholder interests. An example is in the takeover context, where supermajority vote requirements can strongly limit the voice of shareholders in making decisions on such crucial matters as selling the business. This in turn degrades share value and can limit the possibility of buyout premiums to shareholders. Moreover, we believe that a supermajority vote requirement can enable a small group of shareholders to overrule the will of the majority shareholders. We believe that a simple majority is appropriate to approve all matters presented to shareholders.
 
TRANSACTION OF OTHER BUSINESS
 
We typically recommend that shareholders not give their proxy to management to vote on any other business items that may properly come before an annual or special meeting. In our opinion, granting unfettered discretion is unwise.
 
ANTI-GREENMAIL PROPOSALS
 
Glass Lewis will support proposals to adopt a provision preventing the payment of greenmail, which would serve to prevent companies from buying back company stock at significant premiums from a certain shareholder. Since a large or majority shareholder could attempt to compel a board into purchasing its shares at a large premium, the anti-greenmail provision would generally require that a majority of shareholders other than the majority shareholder approve the buyback.
 
MUTUAL FUNDS: INVESTMENT POLICIES AND ADVISORY AGREEMENTS
 
Glass Lewis believes that decisions about a fund’s structure and/or a fund’s relationship with its investment advisor or sub-advisors are generally best left to management and the members of the board, absent a showing of egregious or illegal conduct that might threaten shareholder value. As such, we focus our analyses of such proposals on the following main areas:

The terms of any amended advisory or sub-advisory agreement;
 
Any changes in the fee structure paid to the investment advisor; and
 
Any material changes to the fund’s investment objective or strategy.
 
We generally support amendments to a fund’s investment advisory agreement absent a material change that is not in the best interests of shareholders. A significant increase in the fees paid to an investment advisor would be reason for us to consider recommending voting against a proposed amendment to an investment advisory agreement or fund reorganization. However, in certain cases, we are more inclined to support an increase in advisory fees if such increases result from being performance-based rather than asset-based. Furthermore, we generally support sub-advisory agreements between a fund’s advisor and sub-advisor, primarily because the fees received by the sub-advisor are paid by the advisor, and not by the  fund.

45

In matters pertaining to a fund’s investment objective or strategy, we believe shareholders are best served when a fund’s objective or strategy closely resembles the investment discipline shareholders understood and selected when they initially bought into the fund. As such, we generally recommend voting against amendments to a fund’s investment objective or strategy when the proposed changes would leave shareholders with stakes in a fund that is noticeably different than when originally purchased, and which could therefore potentially negatively impact some investors’ diversification strategies.
 
REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TRUSTS
 
The complex organizational, operational, tax and compliance requirements of Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”) provide for a unique shareholder evaluation. In simple terms, a REIT must have a minimum of 100 shareholders (the “100 Shareholder Test”) and no more than 50% of the value of its shares can be held by five or fewer individuals (the “5/50 Test”). At least 75% of a REITs’ assets must be in real estate, it must derive 75% of its gross income from rents or mortgage interest, and it must pay out 90% of its taxable earnings as dividends. In addition, as a publicly traded security listed on a stock exchange, a REIT must comply with the same general listing requirements as a publicly traded equity.

In order to comply with such requirements, REITs typically include percentage ownership limitations in their organizational documents, usually in the range of 5% to 10% of the REITs outstanding shares. Given the complexities of REITs as an asset class, Glass Lewis applies a highly nuanced approach in our evaluation of REIT proposals, especially regarding changes in authorized share capital, including preferred stock.
 
PREFERRED STOCK ISSUANCES AT REITS
 
Glass Lewis is generally against the authorization of preferred shares that allows the board to determine the preferences, limitations and rights of the preferred shares (known as “blank-check preferred stock”). We believe that granting such broad discretion should be of concern to common shareholders, since blank-check preferred stock could be used as an antitakeover device or in some other fashion that adversely affects the voting power or financial interests of common shareholders. However, given the requirement that a REIT must distribute 90% of its net income annually, it is inhibited from retaining capital to make investments in its business. As such, we recognize that equity financing likely plays a key role in a REIT’s growth and creation of shareholder value. Moreover, shareholder concern regarding the use of preferred stock as an anti-takeover mechanism may be allayed by the fact that most REITs maintain ownership limitations in their certificates of incorporation. For these reasons, along with the fact that REITs typically do not engage in private placements of preferred stock (which result in the rights of common shareholders being adversely impacted), we may support requests to authorize shares of blank-check preferred stock at REITs.
 
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COMPANIES
 
Business Development Companies (“BDCs”) were created by the U.S. Congress in 1980; they are regulated under the Investment Company Act of 1940 and are taxed as regulated investment companies (“RICs”) under the Internal Revenue Code. BDCs typically operate as publicly traded private equity firms that invest in early stage to mature private companies as well as small public companies. BDCs realize operating income when their investments are sold off, and therefore maintain complex organizational, operational, tax and compliance requirements that are similar to those of REITs—the most evident of which is that BDCs must distribute at least 90% of their taxable earnings as  dividends.
46

AUTHORIZATION TO SELL SHARES AT A PRICE BELOW NET ASSET VALUE
 
Considering that BDCs are required to distribute nearly all their earnings to shareholders, they sometimes need to offer additional shares of common stock in the public markets to finance operations and acquisitions. However, shareholder approval is required in order for a BDC to sell shares of common stock at a price below Net Asset Value (“NAV”). Glass Lewis evaluates these proposals using a case-by-case approach, but will recommend supporting such requests if the following conditions are met:
 
The authorization to allow share issuances below NAV has an expiration date of one year or less from the date that shareholders approve the underlying proposal (i.e. the meeting date);
 
The proposed discount below NAV is minimal (ideally no greater than 20%);
 
The board specifies that the issuance will have a minimal or modest dilutive effect (ideally no greater than 25% of the company’s then-outstanding common stock prior to the issuance); and
 
A majority of the company’s independent directors who do not have a financial interest in the issuance approve the sale.
 
In short, we believe BDCs should demonstrate a responsible approach to issuing shares below NAV, by proactively addressing shareholder concerns regarding the potential dilution of the requested share issuance, and explaining if and how the company’s past below-NAV share issuances have benefitted the company.

47

Compensation, Environmental, Social and Governance Shareholder Initialtives

 
Glass Lewis generally believes decisions regarding day-to-day management and policy decisions, including those related to social, environmental or political issues, are best left to management and the board as they in almost all cases have more and better information about company strategy and risk. However, when there is a clear link between the subject of a shareholder proposal and value enhancement or risk mitigation, Glass Lewis will recommend in favor of a reasonable, well-crafted shareholder proposal where the company has failed to or inadequately addressed the issue.
 
We believe that shareholders should not attempt to micromanage a company, its businesses or its executives through the shareholder initiative process. Rather, we believe shareholders should use their influence to push for governance structures that protect shareholders and promote director accountability. Shareholders should then put in place a board they can trust to make informed decisions that are in the best interests of the business and its owners, and hold directors accountable for management and policy decisions through board elections. However, we recognize that support of appropriately crafted shareholder initiatives may at times serve to promote or protect shareholder value.

To this end, Glass Lewis evaluates shareholder proposals on a case-by-case basis. We generally recommend supporting shareholder proposals calling for the elimination of, as well as to require shareholder approval of,  antitakeover devices such as poison pills and classified boards. We generally recommend supporting proposals likely to increase and/or protect shareholder value and also those that promote the furtherance of shareholder rights. In addition, we also generally recommend supporting proposals that promote director accountability  and those that seek to improve compensation practices, especially those promoting a closer link between compensation and performance, as well as those that promote more and better disclosure of relevant risk factors where such disclosure is lacking or   inadequate.

For a detailed review of our policies concerning compensation, environmental, social and governance shareholder initiatives, please refer to our comprehensive Proxy Paper Guidelines for Shareholder Initiatives, available at www.glasslewis.com.
48

DISCLAIMER
 
This document is intended to provide an overview of Glass Lewis’ proxy voting policies and guidelines. It is not intended to be exhaustive and does not address all potential voting issues. Additionally, none of the information contained herein should be relied upon as investment advice. The content of this document has been developed based on Glass Lewis’ experience with proxy voting and corporate governance issues, engagement with clients and issuers and review of relevant studies and surveys, and has not been tailored to any specific person.
 
No representations or warranties express or implied, are made as to the accuracy or completeness of any information included herein. In addition, Glass Lewis shall not be liable for any losses or damages arising from or in connection with the information contained herein or the use, reliance on or inability to use any such information. Glass Lewis expects its subscribers possess sufficient experience and knowledge to make their own decisions entirely independent of any information contained in this document.
 
All information contained in this report is protected by law, including but not limited to, copyright law, and none of such information may be copied or otherwise reproduced, repackaged, further transmitted, transferred, disseminated, redistributed or resold, or stored for subsequent use for any such purpose, in whole or in part, in any form or manner or by any means whatsoever, by any person without Glass Lewis’ prior written consent.
 
© 2017 Glass, Lewis & Co., Glass Lewis Europe, Ltd., and CGI Glass Lewis Pty Ltd. (collectively, “Glass Lewis”). All Rights Reserved.
49

     
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Appendix B
The AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF generally intends to effect deliveries of Creation Units and portfolio securities on a basis of “T plus two” business days (“T+2”). The AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF may effect deliveries of Creation Units and portfolio securities on a basis other than T+2 to accommodate local holiday schedules, to account for different treatment among foreign and U.S. markets of dividend record dates and ex-dividend dates, or under certain other circumstances. The ability of the AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF to effect in-kind creations and redemptions within two business days of receipt of an order in good form is subject, among other things, to the condition that, within the time period from the date of the order to the date of delivery of the securities, there are no days that are holidays in the applicable foreign market. For every occurrence of one or more intervening holidays in the applicable foreign market that are not holidays observed in the U.S. equity market, the redemption settlement cycle will be extended by the number of such intervening holidays. In addition to holidays, other unforeseeable closings in a foreign market due to emergencies may also prevent the Fund from delivering securities within the normal settlement period. The securities delivery cycles currently practicable for transferring portfolio securities to redeeming investors, coupled with foreign market holiday schedules, will require a delivery process longer than seven calendar days in certain circumstances.

The holidays applicable to the AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF during such periods are listed below, as are instances where more than seven days will be needed to deliver redemption proceeds. Although certain holidays may occur on different dates in subsequent years, the number of days required to deliver redemption proceeds in any given year is not expected to exceed the maximum number of days listed below for the AAM S&P Developed Markets High Dividend Value ETF. The proclamation of new holidays, the treatment by market participants of certain days as “informal holidays” (e.g., days on which no or limited securities transactions occur, as a result of substantially shortened trading hours), the elimination of existing holidays, or changes in local securities delivery practices, could affect the information set forth herein at some time in the future.

The dates of the Regular Holidays in the United States in calendar year 2018 are:

Holiday
2018
New Year’s Day
Monday, January 1
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Monday, January 15
Washington’s Birthday
Monday, February 19
Good Friday
Friday, March 30
Memorial Day
Monday, May 28
Independence Day
Wednesday, July 4*
Labor Day
Monday, September 3
Thanksgiving Day
Thursday, November 22**
Christmas
Tuesday, December 25***
* The NYSE, NYSE AMEX and NASDAQ will close early at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, July 3, 2018.
** The NYSE, NYSE AMEX and NASDAQ will close early at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, November 23, 2018 (the day after Thanksgiving).
*** The NYSE, NYSE AMEX and NASDAQ will close early at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, December 24, 2018.
 
 
Listed below are the dates in calendar year 2018 in which the regular holidays in non-U.S. markets may impact Fund settlement. This list is based on information available to the Fund. The list may not be accurate or complete and is subject to change.
[to be provided by subsequent amendment]
 
 
PART C:  OTHER INFORMATION

Item 28.  Exhibits
 
(a)
(i)
 
Certificate of Trust dated February 9, 2012 of ETF Series Solutions (the “Trust” or the “Registrant”) is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (a)(i) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on February 17, 2012.
 
(ii)
 
Registrant’s Agreement and Declaration of Trust dated February 17, 2012 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (a)(ii) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on February 17, 2012.
(b)
   
Registrant’s Amended and Restated Bylaws dated August 18, 2014, are incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (b) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on September 8, 2014.
(c)
   
Not applicable.
(d)
(i)
(A)
Investment Advisory Agreement between the Trust and Advisors Asset Management, Inc. dated July 13, 2017 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (d)(i) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on October 18, 2017.
   
(B)
Amended Schedule A to the Investment Advisory Agreement between the Trust and Advisors Asset Management, Inc. – to be filed by subsequent amendment.
 
(ii)
(A)
Investment Sub-Advisory Agreement between the Trust, Advisors Asset Management, Inc., and Vident Investment Advisory, LLC dated October 26, 2017 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (d)(ii) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on October 18, 2017.
   
(B)
Amended Schedule A to the Investment Sub-Advisory Agreement between the Trust, Advisors Asset Management, Inc., and Vident Investment Advisory, LLC – to be filed by subsequent amendment.
(e)
(i)
(A)
Distribution Agreement between the Trust and Quasar Distributors, LLC (Advisors Asset Management, Inc.) dated September 1, 2017 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (e)(i) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on October 18, 2017.
   
(B)
Amended Schedule A to the Distribution Agreement between the Trust and Quasar Distributors, LLC (Advisors Asset Management, Inc.) – to be filed by subsequent amendment.
 
(ii)
 
Form of Authorized Participant Agreement for Quasar Distributors, LLC is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (e)(iii) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on May 23, 2012.
(f)
   
Not applicable.
(g)
(i)
(A)
Custody Agreement between the Trust and U.S. Bank National Association dated May 16, 2012 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (g) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on May 23, 2012.
   
(B)
Amendment to Exhibit U to Custody Agreement – to be filed by subsequent amendment.
(h)
(i)
(A)
Fund Administration Servicing Agreement between the Trust and U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, LLC dated May 16, 2012 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (h)(i) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on May 23, 2012.
   
(B)
Amendment to Exhibit U to Fund Administration Servicing Agreement – to be filed by subsequent amendment.
 
(ii)
(A)
Fund Accounting Servicing Agreement between the Trust and U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, LLC dated May 16, 2012 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (h)(ii) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on May 23, 2012.
   
(B)
Amendment to Exhibit T to Fund Accounting Servicing Agreement – to be filed by subsequent amendment.
 
(iii)
(A)
Transfer Agent Agreement between the Trust and U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, LLC dated May 16, 2012 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (d)(ii) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on May 23, 2012.
   
(B)
Amendment to Exhibit T to Transfer Agent Agreement – to be filed by subsequent amendment.
 
(iv)
(A)
Powers of Attorney dated September 15, 2017 are incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (h)(iv)(C) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on December 8, 2017.
   
(B)
Power of Attorney dated February 8, 2018 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (h)(iv)(B) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on February 16, 2018.
   
(C)
Powers of Attorney dated July 18, 2018 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (h)(iv)(B) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on August 3, 2018.
 
C-1

 
 
(v)
(A)
Compliance Services Agreement between the Trust and U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, LLC dated August 17, 2015 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (h)(v)(A) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N‑1A, as filed on September 18, 2015.
   
(B)
Amended and Restated Exhibit A to Compliance Services Agreement – to be filed by subsequent amendment.
 
(vi)
 
Certificate of Secretary dated August 3, 2018with respect to powers of attorney is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (h)(vi) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on August 3, 2018.
(i)
   
Opinion and Consent of Counsel – to be filed by subsequent amendment.
(j)
   
Consent of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm – to be filed by subsequent amendment.
(k)
   
Not applicable.
(l)
(i)
 
Initial Capital Agreement between the Trust and U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, LLC dated April 23, 2012 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (l)(i) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on May 23, 2012.
 
(ii)
 
Letter of Representations between the Trust and Depository Trust Company dated May 21, 2012 is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (l)(ii) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on May 23, 2012.
(m)
(i)
(A)
Rule 12b-1 Plan is incorporated herein by reference to Exhibit (m) to the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, as filed on May 23, 2012.