OpenInvest, an online investment advisor empowering individuals to drive social change with their dollars, today launched its first iPhone app.
The most anticipated feature is the unveiling of the world’s first digital democracy - the ability to vote in the shareholder resolutions that matter most, with a simple swipe. OpenInvest’s patent-pending new feature solves traditional challenges of proxy voting (a ballot cast by a shareholder in a company) through streamlined UX, curation and social sharing.
Investors have the legal right to weigh in on important company decisions, or “vote their proxies.” Yet proxy voting participation is historically low for individual investors. During last year's proxy season, just 28 percent of outstanding shares held by retail investors resulted in votes, according to a report by Broadridge Financial Solutions. The process is currently extremely complex, with shareholders either blocked from using their power by fund managers, or overwhelmed by paper packets and obscure ballot measures.
“Shareholders directly and indirectly own nearly 80 percent of U.S. equities, which means CEOs work for us,” said Joshua Levin, co-founder and chief strategy officer, OpenInvest. “Until now, however, it has been virtually impossible to use this power. By unleashing the world’s first digital democracy, we’re putting the economy’s most important decisions - whether to pollute or sustain the planet, whether to discriminate or diversify - at the fingertips of its rightful owners: you and me.”
Using OpenInvest’s app, individual investors can ditch the paper packets mailed to them and easily set up a low-cost market-performance investment portfolio tailored to their personal values. They then receive push notifications about corporate actions, divest-invest campaigns, and succinct descriptions of the proxy votes that matter to them most. They can swipe for or against an initiative as easily as selecting a Tinder date, and then share with others. As users take actions, their portfolios auto-rebalance so they don’t have to sacrifice returns. Furthermore, on their dashboards, users can view their real-time environmental and social impacts.
Proxy ballot measures typically include: electing directors to the board, approving a merger or acquisition and approving a stock compensation plan. However, some of the most important votes include social and environmental issues, such as assessing climate change risk or issuing an anti-discrimination policy. For example, on October 10, Procter & Gamble (P&G) will have an important proxy vote to request a report on how the company will defend LGBTQ employees and their families against discrimination and harassment in states with new “Religious Freedom” laws.