October 5, 2018
October 5, 2018
Mr. Brent J. Fields Secretary
A Coalition of Growth Companies
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE Washington, DC 20549-1090
Re: File Number 4-725 SEC Staff Roundtable on the Proxy Process
Dear Mr. Fields:
I have had the pleasure of growing up in rural Illinois, where I still reside today. I am proud to say that my children have also chosen to stay here and raise their children in farm country.
I may live in rural America, but I do keep abreast of what is going on, especially when it affects my retirement funds. I was privileged to work for the federal government as a congressional staffer at the Members district office, where my interest in lawmaking was heightened. I am aware of the legislation, H.R. 4015, The Corporate Governance Reform and Transparency Act. This is a bi-partisan piece of legislation which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year. The purpose of this legislation is to limit the influence of proxy advisory firms which are under the guise of research firms. I use the term research firms loosely as they make voting recommendations on shareholder meeting agenda items on public companies proxy ballots. I am most pleased to see the SEC is looking at the proxy process issue and appreciate they are looking out for shareholders like me.
Mutual funds, which own many of these stocks, take these recommendations and vote the your retirement or investment shares in accordance with the guidance of these proxy advisory firms. One might think that this doesnt sound like a big deal, but I am writing because I feel it is a very big deal. Special interest groups have taken over companies through proxy voting.
The lack of transparency, combined with possible biases and conflicts of interests associated with proxy advisory firms, is a direct threat to my hard-earned money that I have saved and invested for decades. It is time for an open and fair process. The lack of transparency surrounding proxy advisors is astonishing. I want to know ahead of time if the proxy advisors I am trusting tare making decision that are my best interest, or if they ulterior motive behind the decisions they are making.
Please, Mr. Fields, there must be transparency and fairness in the proxy process. Our retirement security depends on it.
Thank you for your time and consideration.