BlackRock has expanded Proxy Voting Choice to millions of U.S. retail shareholder accounts

Joud Abdel Majeid is Global Head of Investment Stewardship, and Rachel Aguirre is Head of U.S. iShares Product at BlackRock Inc. This post was prepared for the Forum by Ms. Abdel Majeid and Ms. Aguirre.

In 2022, BlackRock launched its “Voting Choice” program, providing eligible clients with more opportunities to participate in the proxy voting process where legally and operationally viable. In launching Voting Choice, BlackRock led a major industry movement to help more investors express their preferences through shareholder voting.

Since the launch, BlackRock has continued to extend the pool of eligible client index equity assets that can participate in the program and expanded the range of voting policies from which clients can choose.

On February 14, BlackRock expanded Voting Choice through a U.S. pilot program to eligible shareholder accounts in its flagship iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV) which seeks to track the S&P 500 Index, enabling more than three million U.S. retail shareholder accounts invested in the fund. This pilot expands Voting Choice to individual investors beyond institutional investors for the first time since the launch of the program.

This latest move increased eligible Voting Choice assets to $2.6 trillion, or half of BlackRock’s index equity assets under management.

Eligible IVV shareholder accounts can now choose one of six third-party voting policies that aligns with their preferences, or they can continue to use the BlackRock Investment Stewardship policy.

While Voting Choice provides BlackRock clients with greater access to proxy voting, the majority of eligible clients continue to entrust BlackRock’s Investment Stewardship team with the important responsibility of voting at the annual shareholder meetings of public companies, with a sole focus on advancing clients’ long-term economic interests.

As of the end of 2023, clients representing $598 billion of eligible index equity assets had chosen to participate in BlackRock Voting Choice.

More information for IVV shareholders on participating in Voting Choice, including information on the six third-party proxy voting policies available through the pilot is available here.

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