November 14, 2017

The Investors Speak: Want Support? Earn Our Trust

This survey from communications firm Edelman says that companies have to do a lot to earn the trust of institutional investors – but that it’s worth their effort.

The report says that institutions are a pretty jaded bunch. They have a negative outlook about the political & investment environment, think companies are unprepared for the business risks created by the political climate, and don’t trust government or the media. Institutions also are prepared to act as change agents – 87% say they’d support an activist if they think change is necessary, & nearly the same percentage think that the companies they invest in aren’t prepared for an activist campaign.

In short, institutional investors don’t have a lot of trust in key watchdogs of corporate conduct or in the companies in which they invest – and they’re prepared to take things into their own hands. All-in-all, this doesn’t sound like the recipe for a very pleasant “Investor Day” – but the report provides some insight into key areas that help build investor trust. According to the report:

– 69% of investors believe that the way a company treats its employees impacts their trust in the company
– 87% say the customer satisfaction plays a big role in their level of trust
– 86% say that a reputation for innovation builds trust
– 77% say that equal voting rights are an important measure of trust
– 99% trust a company with a clear strategy more than those without one

Other factors cited as helping to build trust include speaking out on social issues that impact business, providing guidance on future results, an active and engaged board, & efforts to keep shareholders informed.

So what’s the payoff? According to the report, trust drives valuation and investment decisions among institutions – 77% say they bought or increased their investment positions in companies that they trusted, while more than 70% did not invest or underweighted stocks of companies that they did not trust.

Proxy Advisors: Input Sought on “Best Practice Principles”

As Broc blogged back in 2014, a group of European proxy advisors put forward a set of “Best Practice Principles for Shareholder Voting Research.” That group – known as the “Best Practice Principles Group” – now includes ISS & Glass Lewis as signatories, & is soliciting input from companies & investors about on whether those principles need to be revised in light of market experience & regulatory changes.

Tomorrow’s Webcast: “M&A Stories – Practical Guidance (Enjoyably Digested)”

Tune in tomorrow for the webcast – “M&A Stories: Practical Guidance (Enjoyably Digested)” – to hear Withersworldwide’s Ridge Barker, Ropes & Gray’s Jane Goldstein, Morgan Lewis’ Keith Gottfried and our own John Jenkins share M&A “war stories” designed to both educate and entertain.

Here are the 15 stories that will be told during this program:

1. Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty
2. Diligence Isn’t Just About Looking for Problems, But for Opportunities Too
3. Expect the Unexpected
4. Keep Your Eye on the Ball
5. Keep Your Friends Close (And Your Enemies Closer)
6. Strategic Deals Require Creativity & Patience
7. The Speech the Director Never Delivered
8. Another Rat’s Nest
9. Don’t Attempt to Win the Championship Football Game With an All-Star Basketball Team
10. What Does Collegiality Really Mean?
11. The Board Book’s Tale: Bankers, Stick to the Numbers!
12. Preparing for Battle
13. Driving a Deal Is Not Unlike Filming a Movie
14. Assumptions Make an *%$ Out of You & Me
15. A Deal So Nice, We Did it Twice

John Jenkins