Industry Updates

BlackRock offers proxy voting to retail investors in S&P 500 ETF

First time retail investors will be allowed proxy voting in the firm's largest ETF

Lauren Gibbons


BlackRock has expanded voting choice for its largest ETF to millions of US retail investors after facing criticism that the asset manager has too much power over US companies.

More than three million US retail investors that invest in the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV) will be able to give input in proxy votes.

Retail investors represent about $200bn of the ETF’s $399bn assets under management (AUM).

In a statement, BlackRock said: “Eligible IVV shareholder accounts will be able to select from six third-party proxy voting policies covering a range of voting preferences as well as the option to continue to have their proportionate shares voted according to the BlackRock Investment Stewardship Voting Policy.”

This expansion will increase voting choice assets to $2.6trn which is half of BlackRock’s index equity AUM.

The move comes after the ‘Big Three’ US fund giants – BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) – came under firefor being major shareholders in a vast portion of S&P 500 companies.

Criticisms were supported by research that found it was difficult for the firms to act in the interest of each end investor and therefore often voted in line with the board of the company.

BlackRock’s proxy voting choice programme was first announced for institutional investors in 2021, and the firm announced the plan to extend this to retail investors in July last year.

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