By Lyndon Park
BlackRock recently announced that it is further expanding access to its client proxy voting program, Voting Choice. Through this program, the world’s largest asset manager, with nearly $10T in AUM, enables its clients (e.g., pension funds, institutions/investors) to exercise control of their shares in proxy voting matters. Previously, BlackRock cast those votes on behalf of its clients as part of its fiduciary duty.
BlackRock has faced pressures of late on various proxy voting policies, including climate-related resolutions. When BlackRock announced the launch of Voting Choice last year, it also launched a tech platform to enable its clients to cast their own proxy votes formally and continues to expand its accessibility.
Today, 47% of BlackRock’s index equity assets are eligible to vote their own proxies through Voting Choice and 25% of eligible assets – or $530B – are already live or will soon be live with Voting Choice.
Through Voting Choice, BlackRock’s clients are given the 4 options:
For more information, consult BlackRock’s white paper: It’s All About Choice
Among many issues to watch:
✓ Given that proxy voting/engagement is a resource-intensive activity, how many of the “eligible” asset owners will use independent voting policies on Voting Choice vs. BlackRock’s policy?
✓ BlackRock shows up as one of the top shareholders for most public companies – how will issuers track which percent of BlackRock’s ownership will vote according to BlackRock’s policies vs. their own or third-party policies?
✓ As asset owners tend to have more progressive views on ESG, how will this influence voting outcomes and shareholder resolution activity?
ICR’s ESG Advisory Services Group will continue to monitor this and many other critical ESG-related topics affecting public issuers. Please feel free to contact us at Lyndon.Park@icrinc.com with any questions.