[Excerpt] On August 31, 2004, for the first time, the nation’s mutual fund companies reported how they cast their proxy votes at the public companies in which they invest. The disclosure is the result of Securities and Exchange Commission rules adopted in January 2003, rules that the AFL-CIO first petitioned for in December 2000 and that the mutual fund industry strenuously opposed.
This report evaluates how the 10 largest mutual fund families voted when presented with the opportunity to curb CEO pay abuses at a dozen S&P 500 companies in 2004. We chose executive compensation as our benchmark because, in the words of billionaire investor Warren Buffet, “The acid test for reform will be CEO compensation.”
We found that, when it comes to voting proxies on proposals involving CEO pay abuses, there is significant variation among fund families. The scores in our survey ranged from a high of 100% for American Century to a low of 20% for Putnam.