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Study: Fund Voting in Director Elections

A recent study analyzed mutual fund voting decisions in uncontested director elections.  The study considered how the recommendations of Institutional Shareholder Services ("ISS") affected fund voting and concluded that the influence of ISS is "due more to funds' measured evaluation of the ISS recommendations rather than to funds blindly following these recommendations."  In fact, the largest fund families were found to vote substantially differently both from each other and from ISS recommendations.  The study also found no evidence that funds affiliated with commercial banks, investment banks, or insurance companies had a stronger tendency than independent funds to vote with the portfolio company's management recommendations. 

The authors of the study also concluded that many mutual funds, especially smaller fund families, utilized strategies to economize the cost of voting proxies of portfolio companies.  These strategies included having funds in the same fund family vote in lockstep, generally voting with management and generally voting with ISS recommendations.