What is Proxy Vote?
Proxy Vote is when a person (proxy) casts a vote on behalf of a person not present at the meeting or an organization after obtaining permission to cast such vote, where this vote shall be counted as if the person himself castes vote.
Whenever an important decision or two needs to be taken by a public company; a proxy ballot along with a booklet is being sent to every shareholder of the company via mail. The booklet is called proxy statementProxy StatementThe Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires companies to present important information to their shareholders in the form of a proxy statement. It is required to be filed prior to each annual general meeting. and it contains information about the issues that the shareholders need to vote on.
The issues can be very critical to normal decisions. For example, we can talk about –
- Getting the approval of the decision to merge or acquire,
- Selecting the right board of directors,
- Getting the approval of a plan of stock-based compensation etc.
How is Proxy Voting Process Works?
Knowing only about the proxy vote isn’t enough. It’s also important to find out how the process of proxy voting works. Let’s dive in.
- It all starts with the accountability of public traded companies to their shareholders. And the companies showcase their accountability by sharing information about their activities in annual meetings.
- During the meetings, these companies report to the shareholders about the board of directions (or the changes made, if any), salaries of executives, issues related to expansion, merger, acquisition, etc.
- Along with reporting the critical information of the organization, the companies also ask the shareholders to vote for whatever they think the right option.
- Before the annual meetings, the shareholders are sent the proxy statement stating the options to be voted on, the annual report, and a proxy card. This proxy card contains voting instructions.
- This arrangement is done because most shareholders/investors can’t arrive at the annual meeting to vote for/against the option. That’s why each shareholder chooses a person to vote as per the shareholder’s direction. This person can be anyone from the management team of the company.
- This allows the shareholder to choose the right option – approving the auditor’s report, electing the right directors, etc.
- It should be cast on or before 24 hours from the annual meeting. This can be done online, by phone, or simply through the mail.
- There are usually four options that shareholders can choose while casting their proxy votes. They are “not voted”, “abstain”, “against”, and “for”.
Why do you need to know about the proxy vote?
As shareholders of publicly traded companiesPublicly Traded CompaniesPublicly Traded Companies, also called Publicly Listed Companies, are the Companies which list their shares on the public stock exchange allowing the trading of shares to the common public. It means that anybody can sell or buy these companies’ shares from the open market., you should know what a proxy vote is and how it works. If you don’t know you would find difficulty in dealing with a situation where you would be asked to cast your proxy vote and you wouldn’t have any idea.
That’s why it is important for you to ask the company about how the proxy vote works in their company while you purchase the shares. No matter from whom you buy the shares, you need to know your rights as shareholders and how you would be contacted in the case there’s a need for proxy voting.
Your broker or the company should inform you about the procedures of proxy voting and if not, you should definitely request more information about it.
As shareholders, you have the power to vote, to choose right from wrong, and to elect the right person to take things forward for the company. Understand your right and you would feel a sense of belongingness with the company.
This has been a guide to Proxy Vote and its meaning. We also have a look at how the proxy voting process works along with examples. You may also have a look at these articles to learn more –