Does my vote really matter?
- Yes! Shareholder voting is the primary means by which shareholders can influence the company's operations, its corporate governance and even social responsibility activities. Individual investors hold approximately 30 percent of the stock of large U.S. corporations – that is enough to change the outcome of many proxy voting results. Don't ignore those proxy ballots – you're an owner of that company. Vote and be heard.
- As an added benefit, your prompt proxy vote will actually save the company money they would otherwise spend on reminder mailings and phone calls to solicit your response and reach a quorum.
How long will it take for me to vote?
- With today's convenient options, it can be done in a matter of minutes! Whether by mail, over the phone or on the Internet, you can quickly cast your proxy vote as part-owner of a company. Researching how you want to vote will take more time, but new and user-friendly websites are helping to expedite the research and decision making process.
What kinds of things will I be voting on?
- The proxy process gives you the opportunity to influence a company's operations, corporate governance and social responsibility activities. Commonly known as proxy proposals, items you may vote on include the election of members of the Board of Directors, the issuance of additional stock, an amendment to the corporation's Articles of Incorporation, executive compensation and more. Businesses affect our lives in so many ways every day – your vote on these issues helps you influence this particular company for the better.
How do I know what I want to vote for?
- Many shareholders are overwhelmed by the voting process. Don't be. Many companies provide online forums for you to communicate with other shareholders and discuss your thoughts on upcoming proposals. There are also other resources available to you that can help you get informed, decide how you want to vote and make your opinion heard. New websites help you identify causes that are important to you and vote in line with those causes; some also let you see how institutional investors plan to vote.
- The financial industry is working with regulators and issuers to empower individual investors to make educated and informed votes. We're constantly looking for new tools and resources to make the process better for you – visit the Learn More tab of this website for information.
Can I see how other shareholders voted?
- Some new websites are providing information on how institutional investors plan to cast their votes. Many companies are also providing this information directly in the proxy materials you receive from them. This can be an extremely useful tool to help you evaluate the issues at hand and decide how to cast your own vote.
- Keep in mind: your own vote is confidential and will not be published or shared.
Can I change my vote once I cast my ballot?
- Yes. You can change your vote if you have made an error or changed your mind at any time up until the shareholder meeting. To do so, follow the instructions in your proxy materials – all previous votes will be canceled out and only your last vote will count.
Is there someone I can talk to if I need help voting my proxy?
- Yes. Support varies from company to company, but most medium to large companies have investor relations professionals who will be able to answer your questions. Contact information for these individuals is included in your proxy materials and also on the company's website.
When will I be notified of the outcome of elections?
- When you submit your proxy vote, it is added to the votes of all other shareholders and is presented at the shareholder meeting in the aggregate. Each proposal that is presented at the meeting has a specific voting requirement, or threshold. The voting results are compared to this requirement to determine if the proposal has passed.
- Following a shareholder meeting, the company will typically issue a press release to announce the outcome of the votes on proxy proposals. Often, these press releases can be found on the company's website under either a newsroom or investor relations page.
Can I attend an annual meeting?
- Yes. Shareholders are welcome to attend annual meetings but must do so at their own expense. The proxy voting process is provided as an alternative to ensure that you can exercise your rights as a shareholder without physically traveling to the meeting site. Admittance is generally limited to record date shareholders; you may also need to obtain an admittance ticket and/or a legal proxy to attend and cast your vote at the meeting. To learn more about attending an annual meeting in person, consult your proxy materials – instructions and requirements will vary from company to company.
Can my broker vote on my behalf?
- If you are a beneficial owner of a company, your shares are held in a stock brokerage account or by a bank. In this case, if you do not return your Voting Instruction Form (or "VIF") directing your broker how to vote on your behalf at least 10 days before the shareholder meeting, your proxy vote may be delegated to your broker who would cast a proxy vote on your behalf on certain routine matters.
- Brokers generally no longer have the discretion to vote your shares in an election of directors of companies without receiving instructions from you, but they do continue to retain this discretion for mutual funds and certain closed-end funds. Since brokers sometimes have these limitations, it is important to return your proxy instructions so they can act on your behalf in accordance with your wishes.
- If you have an investment adviser, you may have the ability to delegate your voting authority to them. Be sure to contact them directly for more information.