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Are Mutual Funds Active Voters?


  • Peter Iliev
  • Michelle Lowry


Mutual funds vary greatly in their reliance on proxy advisory recommendations. Over 25% of funds rely almost entirely on Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) recommendations, while other funds place little weight on them. Funds with higher benefits and lower costs of researching the items up for vote are less likely to rely on ISS. These actively voting funds are less likely to vote in a "one-size-fits-all" manner, and they earn higher alphas, consistent with benefits from this allocation of resources. For the underlying firms, the presence of actively voting funds mitigates the influence of ISS and helps sway shareholder votes toward value-maximizing outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Iliev & Michelle Lowry, 2015. "Are Mutual Funds Active Voters?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 28(2), pages 446-485.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:28:y:2015:i:2:p:446-485.

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    Cited by:

    1. Aggarwal, Reena & Dahiya, Sandeep & Prabhala, Nagpurnanand R., 2019. "The power of shareholder votes: Evidence from uncontested director elections," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 134-153.
    2. Dimmock, Stephen G. & Gerken, William C. & Ivković, Zoran & Weisbenner, Scott J., 2018. "Capital gains lock-in and governance choices," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 113-135.
    3. Bar-Isaac, Heski & Shapiro, Joel, 2020. "Blockholder voting," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(3), pages 695-717.
    4. Massa, Massimo & Žaldokas, Alminas, 2017. "Information transfers among co-owned firms," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 77-92.
    5. Nadya Malenko & Yao Shen, 2016. "The Role of Proxy Advisory Firms: Evidence from a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 29(12), pages 3394-3427.
    6. Ian R. Appel & Todd A. Gormley & Donald B. Keim, 2016. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Effect of Passive Investors on Activism," NBER Working Papers 22707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Denes, Matthew R. & Karpoff, Jonathan M. & McWilliams, Victoria B., 2017. "Thirty years of shareholder activism: A survey of empirical research," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 405-424.
    8. Jang-Sup Shin, 2018. "The Subversion of Shareholder Democracy and the Rise of Hedge-Fund Activism," Working Papers Series 77, Institute for New Economic Thinking.
    9. Sudipto Dasgupta & Thomas H. Noe, 2019. "Does Pay Activism Pay Off for Shareholders? Shareholder Democracy and Its Discontents," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 65(4), pages 1810-1832, April.
    10. Isil Erel & Léa H. Stern & Chenhao Tan & Michael S. Weisbach, 2018. "Selecting Directors Using Machine Learning," NBER Working Papers 24435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Choonsik Lee & Matthew E. Souther, 2020. "Managerial Reliance on the Retail Shareholder Vote: Evidence from Proxy Delivery Methods," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(4), pages 1717-1736, April.
    12. Gilje, Erik P. & Gormley, Todd A. & Levit, Doron, 2020. "Who's paying attention? Measuring common ownership and its impact on managerial incentives," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 152-178.
    13. Appel, Ian R. & Gormley, Todd A. & Keim, Donald B., 2016. "Passive investors, not passive owners," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 111-141.
    14. Paul M. Guest & Marco Nerino, 2019. "Do Corporate Governance Ratings Change Investor Expectations? Evidence from Announcements by Institutional Shareholder Services," Working Papers wp515, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    15. Calluzzo, Paul & Kedia, Simi, 2019. "Mutual fund board connections and proxy voting," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(3), pages 669-688.
    16. Patrick Bolton & Tao Li & Enrichetta Ravina & Howard L. Rosenthal, 2019. "Investor Ideology," NBER Working Papers 25717, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Gine, Mireia & Moussawi, Rabih & Sedunov, John, 2017. "Governance mechanisms and effective activism: Evidence from shareholder proposals on poison pills," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 185-202.
    18. Xue, Xiaolin & Zhang, Junrui & Yu, Yangxin, 2020. "Distracted passive institutional shareholders and firm transparency," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 347-359.
    19. Christie Hayne & Marshall Vance, 2019. "Information Intermediary or De Facto Standard Setter? Field Evidence on the Indirect and Direct Influence of Proxy Advisors," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(4), pages 969-1011, September.
    20. Bolton, Patrick & Li, Tao & Ravina, Enrichetta & Rosenthal, Howard, 2019. "Investor Ideology," CEPR Discussion Papers 13633, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Chen, Victor Zitian & Hobdari, Bersant & Zhang, Yilei, 2019. "Blockholder heterogeneity and conflicts in cross-border acquisitions," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 86-101.
    22. Kiesewetter, Dirk & Manthey, Johannes, 2017. "The relationship between corporate governance and tax avoidance - evidence from Germany using a regression discontinuity design," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 218, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.

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