In May, the Main Street Investors Coalition was created to lead advocacy efforts to weaken the influence of institutional investors

Although advertised as representing the average retail investor, it is primarily funded by the National Association of Manufacturers.

The coalition’s chief aim is to change the proxy voting process that occurs at annual shareholder meetings. With growing recognition of the importance of ESG factors in long-term value creation, more institutional investors have sought to incorporate these factors in their investment decision making in the proxy process. A May 2018 GAO report examined the integration of ESG issues in US investment.

While there is significant data to support the long-term economic value of ESG factors to retail investors and corporations, the coalition contends the principles harm corporations’ bottom line and are inconsistent with retail investors’ wishes. The group is circulating white papers and a survey funded by the National Association of Manufacturers to advance its positions at the SEC and in Congress. A 2016 Government Accountability Office report to the Senate Banking Committee has also been cited as raising concerns about proxy advisory firms.

The shareholder voting process, ESG integration and proxy advice in the US