In Focus

CII, Other Groups Urge SEC to Help Improve Virtual, Hybrid Meetings

CII and four other investor groups sent a joint letter July 6 to the SEC asking the agency to help improve how public companies conduct virtual shareholder meetings. Ceres, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the Shareholder Rights Group and the Forum for Responsible and Sustainable Investment (US SIF) co-signed the letter with CII. The letter acknowledges that the pandemic, forced companies to switch quickly from in-person to virtual formats, which led to considerable confusion and technical difficulties. As a result, many shareholders ”faced obstacles in getting into meetings, and in particular in asking questions and participating in a meaningful way,” the groups explain. While noting that state law, individual companies and intermediaries must address many of problems, the co-signers asked the SEC to prod industry participants to craft an efficient, clear protocol for shareholders to remotely access, participate in and vote at virtual meetings. The letter also asks the SEC to require companies to clarify in proxy materials any limitations on shareholders asking questions and the process for choosing questions to answer. The SEC should also require or encourage companies to conduct real-time public webcasts of their shareholder meetings, the letter says.

CII Urges SEC to Seek PCAOB Board Candidates Committed to Investors

In a June 29 letter to the SEC Chair Jay Clayton, CII urged him to consider candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to investors to fill the next vacancy on the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). The letter cited the SEC Chief Accountant’s recent statement indicating that the commission is likely to appoint a CPA to replace outgoing PCAOB Board Member James Kaiser, who is a CPA. CII noted that as “investors are the key customer of audited financial reports,” PCAOB members should include at least one qualified investor. The letter asked the SEC to consider “qualified investors and other candidates whose careers clearly demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to the interests of investors.”

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