On October 27, 2015, the Investment Company Institute (ICI) and Independent Directors Council (IDC) released a biennial update to a joint publication, an Overview of Fund Governance Practices, 1994-2014. The survey is based on data gathered from fund complexes and provides an overview of common fund governance practices. The results of the survey, according to the ICI and IDC, show that fund boards follow strong governance practices and adopt such practices in advance of, or in the absence of, any regulatory mandate to do so. Certain key findings from the survey include (as of year-end 2014) the following:

  • independent directors hold 75% or more of board seats in 83% of participating complexes, an increase from 46% in 1996;
  • 65% of participating complexes reported having boards with an independent board chair and, when complexes that have boards with independent lead directors are also considered, 89% of participating complexes reported having an independent director in a board leadership role;
  • 92% of participating complexes reported that independent directors are represented either by dedicated counsel or counsel separate from the adviser, an increase from 64% in 1998; and
  • 97% of participating complexes reported having an audit committee financial expert although current rules require only that funds disclose whether the audit committee includes a financial expert.

In a statement announcing the survey results, the ICI and IDC stated that during the 20 years in which survey data has been taken, fund boards have been implementing practices that surpass existing legal requirements.