Who reads proxy statements? You get them in the mail, loaded with legese, and you normally don’t care. At least I don’t. Today I got one which for giggles I decided to read through.
ETFs are simple: they are pegged against an index (eg S&P 500 or Spain’s Bovespa). The invest money in the companies comprising that index and if it goes up you win, down you lose. They have little overhead because they are managed by computer programs and not a person. There are very few ifs and buts.
I have iShares ETFs. Not many but it every bit counts. Dummy-proof and cheap for lazy folks. iShares is being sold to Blackrock. Fine. What’s not fine is that in the proxy statement they mention an opaque “change of investment goals from fundamental to non-fundamental”.
Reading deeper, I found the meaning: a fundamental investment goal is one that cannot be changed unless all shareholders are notified. For an ETF that seems to me like should be the case. As a plain index investment tool there no need for change and if it happens, I want to know about it. Non-fundamental goals only require board of directors approval. If the board of directors for the fund feels like it, the can change the goal of investing in, say Korea to investing Lesotho. That’s how it looks to me. The only motivation mentioned is that Blackrock, as the new fund manger, wants ‘condistency’ and less mailings, which cost shareholders. As a shareholder I want to know, all the more if you change what are really, my goals.
So I feel like actually returning the proxy vote card. Doubt it will have an effect. But at least I am reacting. Voting. Look into it, maybe you should do the same.