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SEC Commissioner Jackson calls for increased transparency in corporate elections

SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson Jr. called on his colleagues Thursday to make corporate elections more transparent.

"The SEC's current rules leave investors largely in the dark about how large institutions are voting the shares that underlie American families' savings," he said at a Federal Trade Commission event at the New York University School of Law, according to an email from a staff member. "That's why I'm here today to call on my colleagues to pursue rules that will take advantage of existing data on institutional voting to empower investors with more and better information as to how their shares are voted in the elections that will increasingly decide the future of American capitalism."

Mr. Jackson said the country is at a pivotal moment in financial history, "when corporate elections are increasingly decided by a handful of powerful index fund managers." He added that research on whether the common ownership of stocks by a few "passive" funds "poses an antitrust problem raises important questions about the future of competition policy."

Index funds have grown in popularity over the years. According to Pensions & Investments' annual survey of managers of indexed assets, worldwide indexed assets under management rose 13% during the year ended June 30, with assets growing to $13.37 trillion from $11.83 trillion the previous year.

But, as of now, the evidence available today might not be enough for Mr. Jackson to "impose costly limitations on the diversified investments that American families count on to fund their education and retirement."