Broadridge Financial Solutions (NYSE:BR), the former Brokerage Services division of ADP spun off in 2007, wields inordinate power (a near absolute monopoly) in the realm of proxy services — an unsexy but crucial component of capital markets. Most disturbing is Broadridge’s heretofore ostensible disregard of shareholder concerns about its web delivery platform for virtual annual meetings. For background and evidence of the perils of virtual (especially virtual-only) shareholder meetings, please see my recent coverage of Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC). To its credit, Symantec has since listened to shareholders and shareholder rights activists, all capital market stakeholders, and will offer a hybrid (live, in-person and virtual) meeting format.
Nevertheless, Broadridge’s inferior technology for delivering virtual meetings remains an unresolved matter, and it was conspicuously on display this past Tuesday at Broadridge’s own virtual-only annual meeting. Glyn Holton, founder and executive director of the United States Proxy Exchange (USPX), was granted a proxy to attend. He documents his precarious experience in “Broadridge Smokes Their Own Dope (pdf).” With such far reaching consequences given the inadequacy of Broadridge’s technology, and unfortunately the potential for more virtual-only meetings, this is a must-read; and after all, most individuals own stocks in some shape or form. While technology should be affording shareholders ever greater transparency and accessibility, in fact, in this case it is insidiously driving disenfranchisement.
Disclosure: No positions in BR, ADP, or SYMC. Author is a member of the United States Proxy Exchange. USPX is a grassroots movement funded entirely by individual investors seeking to facilitate shareowner rights.