WASHINGTON: The Social Investment Forum (SIF) and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) have teamed up to launch a Web-based campaign to fight proposals being considered by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) that would limit shareholder ability to nominate directors and replace the shareholder resolution process with an electronic petition system.
SaveShareholderRights.org aims to gather 500 signatures from institutions and financial professionals on an opposition statement while also allowing individuals to write their own letters to the SEC. They’re also working to get investors to send letters to Congress, and they are in contact with companies about the initiative.
The SIF is a 500-member group that includes financial planners, mutual fund companies, universities and others that incorporate factors such as the environment, social issues, and corporate governance into their investing decisions. ICCR is a coalition of about 300 faith-based institutional investors, such as religious health organizations and pension boards, which invest with their religious values in mind. The ICCR represents over $100 billion in investments.
Although the campaign is spearheaded by these two organizations, the implications of the proposals touch investors of all stripes.
“Investors from many backgrounds are alarmed by these SEC proposals,” said Tim Smith, board chair of the SIF and SVP of Walden Asset Management. “This is a broad-based effort with a cross-section of investors who feel their rights are being potentially trampled on.”
Comments will be accepted by the SEC until October 2, after which SEC Chairman Christopher Cox will review them. The campaign will continue the conversation with the SEC and members of Congress while the proposals are under consideration.
The Hastings Group is the AOR for the SIF. They began the initiative on July 24 with a phone-based news conference preceding the SEC meeting the following day when the proposals were announced. Media placements were achieved in the AP, Dow Jones, Investment Week, and other outlets. A second conference on August 29 also got hits in Portfolio, The Wall Street Journal, and other news organizations.
A final decision could come as soon as a month after the comments deadline. SIF and the ICRR are hoping the decision will be delayed until 2008 when a full panel of commissioners can consider the proposals.