Meritas Mutual Funds' 'Say on Pay' Proposal on Canadian Bank Ballots



    CAMBRIDGE, ON, Feb. 21 /CNW/ - The annual shareholder meetings of
Canada's five largest banks will all take place over the next 6 weeks. Meritas
Mutual Funds, one of Canada's leading providers of Socially Responsible
Investments (SRI), is announcing today that we have filed a proposal that
shareholders can vote on, in person or by proxy, at each of those meetings.
    Meritas proposes that the banks allow shareholders to vote on the
appropriateness of the compensation paid to their top executives every year.
"We ask that this vote be advisory, so that it will not ultimately determine
executive pay, but will provide clear and consistent shareholder feedback on
the decisions that bank boards make about compensation," says Gary Hawton, CEO
of Meritas Mutual Funds, "Our view is that if the directors do not hear from
the shareholders they represent on executive pay, they will not be able to
take these views into account in their decisions."
    The compensation paid to corporate executives in Canada is the subject of
considerable shareholder attention because it can have a very real effect on
the performance of their investments. Executives who are effectively motivated
through the structure of their pay will be in a better position to drive
improved corporate performance.
    The advisory vote is in essence the "missing link" between the disclosure
of pay programs shareholders receive and the binding votes they have on
compensation in specific situations such as the approval of stock option
plans.
    Evidence from jurisdictions that have mandated the advisory vote - the
U.K., Australia and New Zealand require that it be on the ballot - is that
boards in those jurisdictions are making ever greater efforts to align
compensation with performance, to provide clearer disclosure of pay to
shareholders and to be open with shareholders who ask questions about
compensation.
    Meritas Mutual Funds believes shareholders of Canadian companies deserve
these same rights and benefits.
    "We ask that other investment counselors and mutual fund managers give
careful consideration to Meritas' proposal," requests Hawton. "I would hope
that other fiduciaries are in favour of greater shareholder rights in this
regard. We are also asking that mutual fund investors call and ask how their
mutual funds are going to vote on this proposal," adds Hawton. "Individual
investors have the right to know how the funds you own are going to vote.
After all, it is your vote that the mutual fund manager is casting on your
behalf."

    About Meritas Mutual Funds

    Meritas is devoted solely to creating and marketing socially responsible
investments. For individual investors, these are available under the brand
name Meritas Mutual Funds through investment advisors across Canada. Committed
to all three aspects of socially responsible investing, Meritas uses positive
and negative screening guidelines, shareholder activism and community
development investments to help people align their investments with their
social, ethical and environmental concerns.





For further information:

For further information: Gary Hawton, Chief Executive Officer, Meritas
Mutual Funds, Tel: (519) 624-6767, E-mail: ghawton@meritas.ca

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MERITAS MUTUAL FUNDS

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