Larry Fink: 'My hope is every investor has access to voting choice'

Larry Fink: 'My hope is every investor has access to voting choice'

BlackRock is to allow UK retail investors to vote in shareholder resolutions, in a move it said will enhance corporate governance.

In a letter to the asset manager’s clients, chief executive Larry Fink said the company is working with a digital investor communications platform to enable investors in BlackRock’s funds to vote on proposals made by the companies held.

“This is an industry first to translate individual investor views into voting instructions,” he said.

Article continues after advert

The development comes a year after BlackRock launched its ‘voting choice’ programme, which gives institutional investors, such as insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds, the ability to participate in proxy voting.

This will be extended to individual investors on a pilot scheme basis.

Fink said his hope is that in the future, every investor has access to voting choice if they want it.

BlackRock is currently under fire for its environmental, social and governance standard, with Republican treasurers in the US pulling around $1bn (£890mn) from its funds, alleging that the company is hostile to fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, Democrats have complained that the asset manager should be pushing companies further to reduce carbon emissions, according to the FT.

In his letter, Fink said it is an “undeniable fact” that technology is making it easier for people to play an “active role” in capital markets, and shareholders can significantly influence a company’s future.

“There is no going back…the next generation of investors will increasingly demand to be heard. 

“Technology has the potential to transform corporate governance in ways that we cannot fully imagine.”

Fink conceded that the industry needed to be realistic on how much time individuals will spend on corporate governance.

“Who would expect a typical individual to wade through thousands of proxy questions every year?” he said.

“But we do believe, for example, that all investors should be able to pick from a range of voting policies to reflect their preferences and that it should be as easy to do so as it is to buy a mutual fund or ETF on your mobile phone today.