What has happened?
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that it will convene a staff roundtable this autumn to hear from investors, issuers and other market participants about whether its proxy rules should be refined.
What does this mean?
Chairman Jay Clayton has announced that the regulator is seeking comment on the US proxy system in light of changes in markets and technology.
The announcement lists various topics for potential consideration, including the voting process, the retail shareholder participation process, the shareholder proposals process and the role of proxy advisory firms.
Another potential area for review is the role of technology and how it can make the proxy process more efficient.
The regulator also wants to explore the potential benefits that could result changes in technology, such as blockchain.
"For example, [the roundtable will consider] whether technology, such as 'blockchain' or distributed ledger technology, could be used to streamline or create more accountability in the proxy process."
The date, agenda items, and participants of the roundtable will be announced after they are finalised.
"The SEC’s rules governing the proxy process are at the center of investor participation in, and influence over, corporate governance at US public companies," the SEC announcement said.
Since 2010, when the last review took place, there have been many changes in the markets, technology, and how companies operate.
Further, the amount of shareholder engagement has increased sharply since 2010.
Currently, 72% of S&P 500 companies report engagement with shareholders compared to just 6% in 2010.
Additionally, the range of topics subject to shareholder engagement also has gone up.
The public can provide their views on the proxy process through the SEC’s Internet submission form, via email at email@example.com.
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