March 29, 2007
Dear Ms. Morris,
While reducing shareholder costs and limiting paper waste may be noble goals I wonder to what extent this will affect shareholder involvement in monitoring their companies? Over the years we seen a slow degradation of "useful" information that shareholders receive. Quarterly reports that come in mail are almost extinct. Bright, colorful annual reports showing company products while also getting right to the point with basic financial information have been replaced with generic plain mailings with a 10-K filled with legal mumbo jumbo. For an everyday investor just getting to basic financial information is already difficult enough.
While there may be initial interest in cutting down paperwork I wonder if the overall effect will be that fewer people view their annual reports and proxies. I for one do not have the patience or eyesight to sit at the computer sifting through page after page of information. Reading the material in the comfort of my lounge chair is difficult enough. I would guess that many with good intentions to view this information online in the end will not find the time to read through the material.
It appears that many individual investors already ignore their current proxy material and little can be done for this. Is setting the default to obtain information online the best solution for people who still read their proxy material? Should consideration be given that this default only apply to individual investors who do not return proxy ballots? To motivate those who don't look at these mailings to do so could companies not be encouraged to send out "plain english" versions of their annual reports and other proxy material?