BlackRock, the world’s biggest fund manager, faces claims that it is too soft when it comes to voting on executive pay.
Steve Silberstein, a multimillionaire tech entrepreneur and philanthropist, has lodged a shareholder proposal for BlackRock’s AGM on 25 May; he claims that the fund manager’s record on voting against executive pay proposals is poorer than its rivals.
The proposal says: “Investment companies have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of their customers and an obligation to vote accordingly. It is not in the best interests of investors, or BlackRock’s shareholders, to have ever-escalating CEO pay, or even high CEO pay, at the companies in which they invest.”
The proposal calls on BlackRock to investigate how it can bring its approach to pay more in line with other fund managers. It notes that BlackRock backed 99% of S&P 500 executive pay reports, while the industry average was 89%.
The Silberstein proposal adds: “We find BlackRock’s voting record inconsistent with evidence on the ways CEO pay impacts corporation long term performance. BlackRock’s publication Our Approach to Executive Compensation states that it will oppose advisory votes in specific cases, including when: ‘We determine that compensation is excessive relative to peers without appropriate rationale or explanation, including the appropriateness of the company’s selected peers.’
“The company has voted in favor of most executive compensation advisory votes (Say on Pay proposals). Yet, a report by As You Sow, The 100 Most Overpaid CEOS, shows that when viewed over the long term, growth in executive compensation of S&P 500 companies has generally outpaced performance.”
BlackRock’s board opposed the proposal.