By Michelle Lamb — Senior Research Associate
July 31 will be the last day of business for Moxy Vote, the online voting platform designed to help individual “retail” investors vote their shares. It was intended to level the playing field in the game of proxy voting – giving the small shareholder a quick, free means of getting his or her voice heard on corporate matters put to vote. Users would receive proxy ballots by email via Moxy Vote and could opt to vote them online or even authorize brokers to do so.
The Moxy Vote platform also provided “Advocates” – organizations like Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, Teamsters, Calvert – that individuals could align themselves with to incorporate their advice into their voting decisions. They could even set up voting policies (like an institutional investor) that would queue-up their votes for processing. They’d then execute the votes with a mouse-click, and Broadridge processed them, just like the larger institutional proxy voting firms.
Such a powerful tool to enable individuals to exercise their right to vote. So what happened?
It turns out Moxy Vote’s business model wasn’t sustainable due to two major regulatory hurdles they have not yet been able to change. Today co-founder of Moxy Vote, Mark Schlegel, explained:
- Individual shareholders have no legal grounds to compel their brokers to deliver ballots electronically to internet voting platforms. And, unfortunately, many brokerage firms have stated clearly to us that they will send them only when required to do so by regulators.
- Proxy distribution/collection agents are presently charging significant fees to internet voting platforms for vote collection – a fee that should be paid by public companies and one that proves substantially more burdensome to individual voters than institutional voters. … In summary, we should not blame the individual investors. The investors are ready to engage when the policy makers are ready to give them a fair opportunity.
Moxy Vote, we admire your “moxy” to date and hope to see you back soon!