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Proxy Vendors’ Influence Waning

The influence of proxy vendors is waning, according to a Wall Street Journal article.  Firms like Glass Lewis and ISS have been accused in the past of wielding too much influence over proxy votes.  However, the recent JP Morgan vote on whether to split the roles of chairman and CEO failed even though the two largest vendors recommended that shareholders support the proposal.  The proposal won only 32.2% of the vote.  The WSJ reports that many investment firms are making their own decisions on proxy votes and using ISS and Glass Lewis as only one of their tools to help form decisions.   Vanguard, for example, employs about a dozen analysts to research companies year-round and often discusses upcoming votes directly with companies.  The article does note that smaller investors still often rely on proxy vendors because they lack the resources to devote to their own analysis.