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Nov 04, 2022

BlackRock kickstarts ‘new era of shareholder democracy’

UK retail investors get to vote on proxy battles from 2023

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has announced that it is working with digital investor communication platform Proxymity to enable investors in select mutual funds to have their say on contested corporate proposals.

The move comes one year after the firm announced BlackRock Voting Choice, a tool that allows eligible institutional clients to choose how they want to participate in voting decisions.

proxy votes‘It is an undeniable fact that technology is making it easier than ever for more people not only to access but also to play an active role in capital markets. When mobilized by technology, shareholders can significantly influence a company’s future,’ writes BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink in a letter to clients.

‘There is no going back. The next generation of investors will increasingly demand to be heard. Technology has the potential to transform corporate governance in ways we cannot fully imagine.’

Fink adds that the ultimate goal is to give all investors – even individual ones – the opportunity to have a say in proxy votes if they want.

According to Proxymity, the digital proxy voting service – Vote Connect Total – will enable BlackRock’s community of retail investors to improve their voting experience, leading to extended deadlines and an enhanced confirmation procedure.

It will allow investors to send votes in real time stress-free, and to receive a digital confirmation that their votes have been cast.

BlackRock says the tool will be available for the 2023 proxy voting season and that it will release further details ‘in the coming months’. 

‘As long-time advocates of shareholder democracy and delivering a more efficient and transparent ecosystem for all, we are proud to be working with BlackRock on its Voting Choice project,’ says Dean Little, co-founder and CEO of Proxymity.

This collaboration, our first in sharing this functionality with the ecosystem, will bring significant benefits to investors, enabling them to access their shareholder rights on assets held within the fund, so they can be seen and heard on the important issues that matter to them.’