August 27, 2019

SEC’s Filing Fees: Going Up 7% On October 1st!

Last week, the SEC issued this fee advisory that sets the filing fee rates for registration statements for fiscal 2020. Right now, the filing fee rate for Securities Act registration statements is $121.2 per million (the same rate applies under Sections 13(e) and 14(g)). Under the SEC’s new order, this rate will increase to $129.8 per million, a 7.1% increase.

Although we saw a modest 2.6% reduction in fee rates last year, this price hike puts fees back on the upward trajectory – they increased by 7-15% in fiscal 2018 and 2017. And since the annual adjustments to the SEC’s fee rate have been made under a formula prescribed by the Dodd-Frank Act since 2010, the “politics” of the timing and amount have been removed for a while.

As noted in the SEC’s order, the new fees will go into effect on October 1st (as has been the case since 2011, and as mandated by Dodd-Frank). That’s a departure from the old way of doing things – before Dodd-Frank, the new rate didn’t become effective until five days after the date of enactment of the SEC’s appropriation for the new year – which often was delayed well beyond the October 1st start of the government’s fiscal year as Congress and the President battled over the government’s budget.

Low-Cost Index Funds: Management’s “Absentee” Best Friend?

John’s blogged a couple of times about efforts by large institutional investors to avert a gathering storm of criticism. Maybe they can add this research to their fodder – it says that index funds are 12.5% more likely than “active” funds to vote with management’s recommendations when they differ from ISS, with that percentage being even higher for funds with low expense ratios (presumably, because they have fewer resources to spend on monitoring).

The research acknowledges that funds could be voting with management and still monitoring to ensure corporate governance – by either selling their shares, or by engaging with the company and then supporting pre-negotiated proposals. Sales are rare, as you’d expect from an index fund. But here’s the surprising part: in a complete departure from all anecdotal evidence and company complaints about the outsized influence of institutional investors, the researchers conclude that there’s no evidence of engagement. Zero!

If they’re right, maybe companies really can rest easy about the prediction that the “Big 3” will control 40% of the S&P 500 within the next 20 years. In my opinion, though, they’ve reached that conclusion based on a flawed understanding of Schedule 13D filing requirements and the shareholder proposal & engagement process. Specifically:

– They ignore the fact that engagement on executive compensation, social issues and corporate governance doesn’t disqualify a shareholder from filing a Schedule 13G

– They assume that there’s no engagement in the absence of a fund submitting its own proposal or voting against the company in a proxy contest

Glass Lewis Going “All In” With CGLytics…And Considering Pay-for-Performance Changes

Here’s something I blogged yesterday on on In June, I blogged that Glass Lewis is now using CGLytics (instead of Equilar) for compensation & data analysis of North American companies. According to this Georgeson blog, Glass Lewis has now elaborated on what that means – and confirmed that its new business partner will be its exclusive global provider of peer groups, compensation data and analytics.

In light of this move and client & company feedback, the proxy advisor is considering changes to its pay-for-performance peer review and scoring methodology. We’ll know more about the potential changes in a few months. For now, effective January 1st, Glass Lewis will:

– Use CGLytics as the sole provider of compensation data and analytical tools globally

– Provide model access exclusively through Glass Lewis and CGLytics

– No longer use Equilar’s peer groups

– No longer use Equilar data in any of their products

– Be the exclusive access point to Glass Lewis research reports and vote recommendations

Liz Dunshee