ISS has issued a U.S. Equity Compensation Plans FAQ, U.S. Executive Compensation Policies FAQ and a U.S. Policies and Procedures FAQ. Here is a rough comparison of the 2015 U.S. Compensation Policies FAQ to the 2016 U.S. Executive Compensation Policies FAQ (old on the left, new on the right).
The US Policies and Procedures FAQ provides this information with respect to proxy access:
“Under our Board Responsiveness policy guidelines, ISS will evaluate a board’s response to a majority supported shareholder proposal for proxy access by examining whether the major points of the shareholder proposal are being implemented. Further, ISS will examine additional provisions that were not included in the shareholder proposal in order to assess whether such provisions unnecessarily restrict the use of a proxy access right. Any vote recommendations driven by a board’s implementation of proxy access may pertain to individual directors, nominating/governance committee members, or the entire board, as appropriate.
ISS may issue an adverse recommendation if a proxy access policy implemented or proposed by management contains material restrictions more stringent than those included in a majority-supported proxy access shareholder proposal with respect to the following, at a minimum:
- Ownership thresholds above three percent;
- Ownership duration longer than three years;
- Aggregation limits below 20 shareholders;
- Cap on nominees below 20 percent of the board.
In instances where the cap or aggregation limit differs from what was specifically stated in the shareholder proposal, lack of disclosure by the company regarding shareholder outreach efforts and engagement may also warrant negative vote recommendations.
If an implemented proxy access policy or management proxy access proposal contains restrictions or conditions on proxy access nominees, ISS will review the implementation and restrictions on a case-by-case basis. Certain restrictions viewed as potentially problematic especially when used in combination include, but are not limited to:
- Prohibitions on resubmission of failed nominees in subsequent years;
- Restrictions on third-party compensation of proxy access nominees;
- Restrictions on the use of proxy access and proxy contest procedures for the same meeting;
- How long and under what terms an elected shareholder nominee will count towards the maximum number of proxy access nominees; and
- When the right will be fully implemented and accessible to qualifying shareholders.
Two types of restrictions will be considered especially problematic because they are so restrictive as to effectively nullify the proxy access right:
- Counting individual funds within a mutual fund family as separate shareholders for purposes of an aggregation limit; and
- The imposition of post-meeting shareholding requirements for nominating shareholders.”