It may seem strange coming from a man who owes his position to a man who owes his to the support of 46.1% of the 58.1% of potential voters, but Jay Clayton is worried about voter turnout. Not on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, of course, but in the elections that really matter: proxy contests.
You see, Clayton’s worried that investors aren’t taking them seriously. And he thinks that might be because they’re just inundated by the proposals they make themselves seeking such cumbersome things are better corporate governance. Now, he’s not talking about preventing his old client Bill Ackman from getting repeated ass-whoopings at the hands of his adversaries, but maybe a little something to keep shareholder proposals in the hands of the only people who can really be trusted to make them: millionaires.
Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton told a New York legal conference that retail-investor participation in such elections is so low that it “may be a signal that our proxy process is too cumbersome and needs updating.” Mr. Clayton, who took over the commission in May, said he would seek public input on how to overhaul the proxy-voting system….
“They also create costs, including out-of-pocket costs and the use of board and management time that otherwise could be devoted to operation of the company itself….”
The SEC hasn’t weighed in on the Republican proposal to raise the bar to 1%. Mr. Clayton said he supports rules that allow shareholder proposals but acknowledged the debate divides investors and companies. He is “searching for a way to reconcile the multiple positions and find common ground,” he said.