December 13, 2018

Retail Voting: Enormous Increase at BofA!

Earlier this year, Broc blogged about Bank of America’s campaign to increase retail voting – they were donating $1 to Habitat for Humanity for every shareholder account that votes and also featuring online director interviews. This issue of Carl Hagberg’s “Shareholder Service Optimizer” reports that the effort was a resounding success – a 41% increase in voters (on top of an 8% increase last year) and over $900k donated. And importantly, a 4% increase in pro-management votes – this can make a big difference, especially for say-on-pay. Here’s how BofA maximized its results:

– First and foremost is the marketing truism that to get results you need to “repeat, repeat and repeat” your message.

– Equally important, you need to position your messages prominently – so they will be noticed right off the bat. BofA did a masterful job of this last year with its inaugural “Special Olympics” campaign. And this year, the message was even more prominently and frequently displayed. It was the very first – and very attention-getting – thing that shareholders saw when they received & opened the proxy package.

– Of course, the message needs to be a compelling one. Here, BofA hit a bases-loaded home run by choosing excellent and non-controversial charities last year & this year.

– Most compelling, however, were the attention-getting numbers: BofA was able to report that $650,000 had been donated to the Special Olympics last year – and that, we think, was a major motivating factor behind the huge number of new people who got on the bandwagon this year. (Next year, a $1 million goal will keep voters on the ranch – and will generate a lot more new participation, we feel certain.)

Carl also notes that BofA worked to increase the always hard-to-get “Employee Plan” votes. Not only did they post an educational video and email voting reminders, but they created a single “landing platform” for all employee plan accounts. The platform allowed employees to vote all of their positions through a single set of voting actions.

Mobile-Friendly Director Interviews: Another Vote-Getter

Another article from Carl Hagberg’s “Shareholder Service Optimizer” also speculates that BofA’s online director interviews contributed to the company’s massive increase in retail voting. The link was appended to all of the e-deliveries & employee outreach materials – and was posted on the voting sites.

Carl’s hypothesis is borne out by the fact that the “Meet the Board” feature is the most-visited content page for mobile-friendly proxies at EZOnlineDocuments. We’ve blogged before about EZOnline’s work – and Carl notes that he was “absolutely bowled-over” by a recent product demo. Here’s more:

Particularly for retail investors, having an interactive, web- and mobile-friendly proxy statement makes it easier to read, search and actually digest the content – better than anything else we have seen. We urge you to visit and to zero-in on the “Clients” tab for a quick and easy-to-absorb look at how it works for clients like Coca-Cola, Mastercard, Xcel Energy and others.

Transcript: “This Is It! M&A Nuggets”

We have posted the transcript for the recent webcast: “This Is It! M&A Nuggets.”

Liz Dunshee