SEC Examines Proxy Advisory Firms

According to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro, the agency is reviewing the proxy process to determine how information is transmitted to shareholders and the public. They are also studying how shareholder votes are counted.

She says the exam will focus on the role of proxy advisory firms, the types of conflicts they deal with, the way these issues affect their business and the voting process, and the role that the agency should play when it comes to regulate proxy advisory firms. She expressed commitment to a “top-to-bottom review of proxy infrastructure” and the role that proxy advisory firms face.

Schapiro made her remarks in front of the Economic Club of New York last month. At the event, she also noted that although the Obama Administration has increased the SEC’s budget—the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act did not give the agency the ability to oversee its own budget—she said that she still would like the SEC to be self-funded.

The financial regulatory reform legislation did provide the SEC with reserve funds to go toward hiring and technology upgrades. Schapiro says that the agency has been successful in its efforts to recruit from hedge funds, trading desks, institutional and retail investment firms, and credit ratings agency analysts.

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