Vanguard ‘Making Noise’ on Management, Economic, Environmental Issues


Vanguard has found its voice above the sounds of cash rushing into its mutual funds, and the Malvern firm is speaking up beyond the boardrooms of corporate managers and boards of directors.

Over the past year, Vanguard has “cast more than 171,000 individual votes on behalf of its mutual funds,” including votes against three Wells Fargo directors in the wake of its deepening rogue account scandal, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report by Erin Arvedlund.

“Our Investment Stewardship team voted proxies on behalf of our funds at nearly 19,000 shareholder meetings and held more than 950 engagements with company leaders and directors,” wrote outgoing CEO William McNabb.

In Wells Fargo’s case, “we questioned a key committee’s ability to fulfill its obligations to implement an effective risk oversight structure. Based on our engagement, we concluded that certain directors had fallen short of their responsibility to understand the risks and culture of the company and to challenge management when necessary, and our funds voted against their re-election.”

Vanguard also identified “misaligned executive compensation packages, unequal shareholder voting rights, ineffective boards, climate risk disclosure, and gender diversity on boards” as reasons to vote for change.

“You can expect us to speak out when we detect threats to our shareholders’ economic interests,” said Investment Stewardship Officer Glenn Booraem.

Read more about the company’s increasing activism in the Philadelphia Inquirer here, and check out previous VISTA Today coverage of Vanguard here.

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