By Adam Houser
As part of its Shareholder Accountability Project, CFACT attended the shareholder meetings of Bank of America and CitiGroup to act as a watchdog on the two large banking corporations.
At center focus of each meeting were the practice of ESG investing (Environmental, Social, and Governance), which prioritizes leftist ideology over sound financial practices. CFACT asked questions to each of the company’s CEOs and voted on pertinent proposals, hoping to hold management’s feet to the fire on the ill-advised practice of ESG.
At the Bank of America meeting, CFACT’s question was posed directly to the CEO, Bryan Moynihan, live at the hearing.
CFACT’S question was:
“The large number of shareholder proposals regarding climate change clearly indicates that Bank of America’s strategy of trying to appease the activists is not working. Why doesn’t Bank of America simply focus on maximizing value for shareholders and just ignore these people?”
CEO Bryan Moynihan waved off the impact such activists have on the company and answered, “I think we focus on running the company under responsive growth along the dimensions that are laid out clearly in our annual report and proxy statement. And so, you know, this is the way it works in America, there are the ability to have shareholder proposals, and we will address them each time, based off the rules of the SEC, and the key thing is they really don’t impact how we run the company – we run the company on consistent strategy and that’s what we’ve done for years and that’s what we’ll continue to do so as laid out by [inaudible] and our board and the team to continue to drive forward to do what we need to do to continue to help clients make the transition on energy, while at the same time importantly preserving a strong energy security for our country and the countries around the world.”
Meanwhile, at the CitiGroup meeting, when challenged on the bank’s role in continued financing of fossil fuel projects by a leftist shareholder, CEO Jane Fraser pushed back and said, “…the global economy simply cannot operate without fossil fuels today, nor can it grow without them in the mix. And that’s because we simply don’t yet have affordable alternatives at the scale and reliability that is required…”
While the practices and management of these banks are by no means perfect, it is refreshing to hear CEOs push back against some of the climate alarmist rhetoric aiming to drag these companies into extremism. This is a slight shift from prior years when companies were much more willing to give in to the demands of activist investors. CFACT is proud to have had a role in being a force for reason pushing back against the “woke” climate tide.
And what’s even better is that the shareholder proposals brought by climate activists at each meeting went down in flames, while proposals brought by CFACT allies to CitiGroup and Bank of America, despite failing, showed promising results for possible passage in the future.
That proposal, put in by our allies from the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) at both shareholder meetings, called for the establishment of an “independent board chairman,” and was primarily necessary because of Brian Moynihan, the chair and CEO of Bank of America. Moynihan is running the company in such a manner as to promote globalist World Economic Forum (WEF) and its ESG priorities over shareholder values and needs to be held accountable. CitiGroup chair and CEO Jane Fraser continues to promote ESG initiatives, despite some of her positive comments on fossil fuels.
Paul Chesser, who spoke for NLPC at the Bank of America meeting, said, “My fellow shareholders may be surprised to learn that the World Economic Forum prioritizes transhumanism, abolition of private property, consumption of bugs, social credit systems, the ‘Great Reset,’ and other Orwellian objectives. Why is this important for Bank of America to boost these globalists at the expense of US sovereignty and values?”
The proposal garnered 26% in favor at the Bank of America meeting and 18.12% in favor at CitiGroup; still a way to go towards future passage, but the proposals performed far better than other leftist proposals brought before the shareholders.
For example, a proposal to “request that the Board of Directors adopt a policy for a time bound phase out lending and underwriting to projects and companies engaging in new fossil fuel exploration and development” failed badly, receiving only 9.94% of votes in favor at CitiGroup and a similar proposal received 7% in favor at Bank of America. Those were the lowest approval ratings received for any proposals at the CitiGroup and Bank of America meetings.
CFACT, of course, voted against the proposals.
These were the first of the shareholder meetings of 2023 CFACT attended to bring reason and facts to corporate America board rooms. More meetings covering the sectors of energy and technology are to come, and CFACT will bring its same tenacity and focus on facts to these meetings going forward.
- Adam Houser
- Adam Houser coordinates student leaders as National Director of CFACT’s collegians program and writes on issues of climate and energy.
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