The Recommendations of the SEC's Investment Advisory Committee

The SEC's Investor Advisory Committee met in the first half of October and made two recommendations. The link to the IAC's page was on the home page of the SEC's site but has since been removed from that prominent location. But the site can be found here.  

One recommendation concerned the definition of accredited investor. The SEC was instructed in Dodd-Frank to study the definition to determine appropriate reforms. The definition for individuals focuses on income and net worth but contains thresholds that have not changed since 1982. The definition does not screen for actual sophistication (based upon education or experience).

The other recommendation concerned the impartiality of brokers in the proxy process with respect to the disclosure of interim voting data. Brokers are obligated to forward materials to beneficial owners, including voting instructions. Brokers (and their agent, Broadridge) are exempt from the proxy rules for forwarding the materials as long as the task is undertaken in an impartial fashion. The practice has arisen, however, whereby voting data is collected and, on an interim basis, sometimes given to only one side in a contest over a matter submitted to shareholders. The recommendation calls for the application of the concept of impartiality to the disclosure of interim voting information. 

J Robert Brown Jr.