Fewer and Simpler Words, Please

Fewer and Simpler Words, PleaseIf Charles Peter McQuaid had his way, proxies would be shorter and easier to read, rather than the wordy complicated documents that today are mostly written by lawyers. Proxies would describe how companies pay for superior performance.  The Columbia Acorn fund votes against dozens of stock plans a year—those that reward sub-par performance with high pay. Fewer and Simpler Words, Please

Columbia Acorn may be a different because they do their own homework, reading the proxies for every stock they own.  The fund has a lower turnover than most– 20 percent.  “Compare that with a hedge funds that is 11 seconds,” said McQuaid, President and Chief Investment Officer of Columbia Wanger Asset Management  at an NACD  panel on performance metrics and compensation this week.

In addition, McQuaid would like it to be easier to find basic information in the proxy that the small and mid-cap investor cares about:  How many options are outstanding? How many options were awarded?  How many shares do directors own personally?

With a 26 year career in the investment business, McQuaid recognizes that companies are competing for talent and not adverse to high pay for superior performance.  “Good management can add value to a company and increase shareholder return.”