Most companies have financial years ending at the end of the year. It takes a while for the annual reports to come out and proxies to be received by shareholders. I have signed up for all that I can to be delivered electronically.
In the last while I have received a bunch of proxy notices. I have always read and voted on the proxies even when I had to mail them back to the companies, although I used online voting as soon as I could.
Proxies can take up a lot of time. I had taken a speed reading course at one time and this probably helps.
I am also quite focused on what I am looking for and this certainly helps. I have read a lot of proxy notices and there is generally a certain format to them. Some information circulars that company's produce are well organized and they tell you where you can find things. Others are just awful and it is difficult to find what you are looking for.
My basic policy is to vote with management unless I have a specific reason not to. For some of our biggest companies there are always a few outside shareholders proposal. Some groups obviously have certain axes to grind. I have seldom voted for any, but I do read them all and vote on them.
One of the most common outsider shareholder proposals is to have a quota for the number of women on the board. I personally would like to see more boards with more women, but I do not believe that quotas are the way to go. I would go for a resolution whereby the company must state their policy on diversity for directors, but not on quotas.
I also do not want to vote for any resolution that tries to tie up the company and make it difficult for directors and management to do their job.
I certainly advocate that shareholders, especially if you are a long time shareholder, should read the information circulars and vote.
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