Question: This is about the periodic requests we receive to cast proxy votes. How are we supposed to do the research and due diligence to know which of the candidates will act in our best interest? Or does it really matter?
Ric: You cite a common investor complaint. First, look at the bright side. By investing in mutual funds and exchange traded funds, you get only one proxy per fund; if you owned the thousands of individual stocks those funds invest in, you’d be getting thousands of individual proxies. So, you are subjected to far less aggravation than you otherwise might. I realize that’s small consolation, though.
As to your main point, I don’t know how one is expected to do the research. But it does matter that you vote. The reason: The fund company must get a quorum to make the vote legally valid, and until it does it will keep pestering you, spending lots of money in the process (which the shareholders of the fund — that’s you — pay). So, if you trust the fund’s board, simply rely on their judgment and vote yes on everything. If you don’t trust them, vote no. And if you can’t decide, vote abstention.