Ryan Comments on Shareholder Activism by Churches

Principal Alex Ryan provided commentary to Institutional Investor in its article, “These Churches Buy Shares in Gun Companies. Their Goal: Confront Them.” The article discussed ‘shareholder activism’ and how religious groups are forming coalitions to use their investment portfolios to influence corporations and advance social issues.  Companies targeted have included those in the gun, automobile and tobacco industries.  In discussing shareholder activism from the perspective of plan fiduciaries, Ryan noted the need for a strong business case considering the potential effects on investment returns and the costly, time-consuming process.

“The current labor department is concerned about plans’ fiduciaries using significant amounts of plan assets to engage with companies – assets that may otherwise be put to other uses,” Ryan said. “With shareholder activism and proxy voting, the plan fiduciaries really have to make the economic case for these types of decisions.”