Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019 
For Immediate Release

202-464-1570 ext. 102
Dan Carroll
202-464-1570 ext. 103
Mutual Fund Support for Corporate Political Disclosure Continues Steady Rise;
BlackRock, Vanguard and Fidelity Remain Outliers

DECEMBER 17, 2019
WASHINGTON -- The largest mutual funds’ support for the Center for Political Accountability’s corporate political disclosure resolution continued to steadily rise in 2019, to 56.0 percent from 52.7 percent in 2018 according to analysis based on the Morningstar Fund Votes Database.[1] This increased support continues to build on the strong momentum of the 8.2 percentage point increase from the 2017 to 2018 proxy seasons.

Going against this trend were the Big Three institutional investors – BlackRock, Vanguard and Fidelity – which continued to oppose the Center’s political disclosure resolution. In contrast, the other institutional investor behemoth, State Street, increased its support over last year.

Of the 45 large asset managers, only one (PIMCO) supported 100 percent of the political spending resolutions and 10 supported none. Eighteen of the 45 groups increased their support from 2018 to 2019, while 20 decreased support. Since 2017 30 of the funds increased their support for the political disclosure resolution while just 9 decreased their support.

“Political spending is widely recognized as posing an even greater risk in today’s hyper-polarized political environment,” said CPA President Bruce Freed. “The continued increase in support for disclosure reflects mutual fund recognition that this should be the norm for companies.”

“It’s hard to understand why the Big Three institutional investors continue to resist this trend. Their obstinance puts companies – and their clients investing through them – at risk.”

Four groups—Fidelity (GEODE), Putnam, Schwab and Affiliated Managers—increased their support by over 20 percentage points. Average shareholder support for CPA’s model resolution continued to rise in 2019, at 36.4 percent, up from 34.0 percent last year. Contrary to this upward trend, Northern, Goldman Sachs, Natixis and Morgan Stanley decreased their support for the resolution.

Fund Votes examined 45 fund groups’ votes across the 2017-2019 proxy seasons. This study sought to profile the spectrum of voting patterns across the wide range of funds managed by large assets managers.

The 45 fund groups identified were those indexed in the Fund Votes database that had cast votes on at least 5 resolutions in each of the last three proxy seasons and were among the largest asset managers. Their total global assets under management amount to over $43 trillion, according to IPE’s Global 400 Asset Manager Ranking.

Other notable findings include the following:
  • The 18 funds increasing support this year averaged a 17.7 percentage point increase while the 20 funds that decreased support averaged an 8.5 percentage point decrease.
  • In 2017, only 12 of the 45 fund groups supported 80 percent or more of the resolutions voted upon; in 2019, this figure climbed to 22 fund groups.
  • Only nine groups failed to support a single political spending disclosure resolution in 2019 compared with 11 groups in 2018 and 12 in 2017.

[1] Fund Votes, a Morningstar Company. The Fund Votes database, made up of over 110 million proxy voting decisions by large financial institutions, spans 15 years of mutual fund proxy voting disclosure. The data has been indexed to facilitate analysis of investment institutions’ voting patterns on a wide range of issues proposed by shareholders.
This year’s survey considered 12,240 votes cast by 45 groups on 33 shareholder-sponsored resolutions during the 2019 proxy season, 6,225 votes cast on 18 resolutions in the 2018 season, and 7,922 votes cast on 22 resolutions in the 2017 season.

The Appendix lists all the shareholder proposals based on the CPA model resolution that came to a vote in the 2019 proxy season. A typical CPA model resolution asks companies to report on and semiannually update the following:
  1. Policies and procedures for making, with corporate funds or assets, contributions and expenditures (direct or indirect) to (a) participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, or (b) influence the general public, or any segment thereof, with respect to an election or referendum.
  2. Monetary and non-monetary contributions and expenditures (direct and indirect) used in the manner described in section 1 above, including:
    1. The identity of the recipient as well as the amount paid to each; and
    2. The title(s) of the person(s) in the Company responsible for decision-making
Mutual funds looking to update their proxy voting policies with more specific guidance on disclosure and oversight of corporate election spending may draw on Appendix 2 of The Conference Board’s Handbook on Corporate Political Activity, in which sample proxy voting guidelines are provided.

In addition, CPA’s one-page summary on the key elements of meaningful corporate political disclosure provides concise guidance to proxy voters as they try to determine where the gaps may exist in a company’s policies and disclosure.
CPA is a non-profit, non-partisan organization created in November 2003 to bring transparency and accountability to political spending. To learn more about the Center for Political Accountability visit
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