A new mobile app could ease participation in proxy votes at the annual meetings of public companies and may boost voting by individual investors, officials said.
Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc. of Lake Success introduced its ProxyVote app for iPhone and Android phones on Wednesday.
The product launch coincides with the start of proxy season, when public companies ask investors to elect boards, approve executive compensation, and decide mergers and other issues. Those votes are weighted so the more stock investors own, the greater their influence.
The ProxyVote app is the latest effort by Broadridge to help increase investor participation in corporate governance.
Thirty percent of shares in U.S. public companies are owned by individual investors, but last year they voted on just 28 percent of the issues brought before shareholders, according to ProxyPulse, a data collaboration between Broadridge and PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants. More than 90 percent of pension funds, investment banks and other institutions did vote.
“Individual investors have an important voice in the future of the companies that they invest in,” said Broadridge CEO Timothy C. Gokey. “Their votes not only impact their own financial well-being, but can have lasting effects on our economy.”
Individual investors played a decisive role in a 2017 proxy fight at home-goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble Co., where activist shareholder Nelson Peltz, a billionaire, secured a board seat from management after narrowly losing the board election. Similarly, a company's management usually responds to low approval of executive compensation by individual investors, Gokey said in a February interview.
Broadridge distributes annual reports and proxy ballots to investors on behalf of brokerages, tabulates the votes and then reports the results to nearly every U.S. public company. Much of the work is done by about 2,000 of the company's employees located in multiple factories in Edgewood.
Broadridge introduced proxy voting using mobile devices in 2011. With the ProxyVote app, investors can receive regulatory information such as annual reports and are able to vote directly in board elections and on other matters. Users will access the app via a thumbprint and facial recognition, officials said.
In addition to the free app, Broadridge executives said the company will continue to send materials to investors via email and postal mail. Investors also can participate in proxy votes by using their broker’s app or by going to proxyvote.com on a desktop computer.