One of the issues we discussed at the 26th Annual NASPP Conference this year was a surprising uptick in institutional investors voting “against” companies’ say on pay proposals. It has been widely reported that CalPERS voted against companies’ say on pay proposals 43% of the time in 2018. Prior to this year, CalPERS’ highest percentage of against votes for say on pay was less than 18%, a year-over-year increase of more than double. But CalPERS’ vote against percentage was not the highest among investors and investment advisers in 2018. Proxy Insight reports that five other investors voted against say on pay proposals even more frequently than did CalPERS, led by Allianz Global Investors, which voted against its portfolio companies’ say on pay proposals a whopping 79% of the time.
Overall, say on pay proposal failure was up in 2018 to 52%, from the historic low of only 34% in 2017. This is still a small percentage but, as readers know, many companies feel like they must react to any say on pay vote with an approval rate below 80%. With some investors apparently now routinely voting against for no obvious reason, this may present a challenge.
One more thing to worry about for the upcoming 2019 proxy season.