Buffett among titans pushing ‘commonsense’ governance | Fin24
 
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Buffett among titans pushing ‘commonsense’ governance

Jul 21 2016 07:22
Noah Buhayar

New York - A group of the US financial industry’s most powerful leaders, including Warren Buffett and Laurence D. Fink, released a set of what they called “commonsense” recommendations for public companies to improve their corporate governance and relations with shareholders.

BlackRock’s Fink, JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon and Berkshire Hathaway’s Buffett were among 13 executives that jointly issued a public letter and report on Thursday. Their suggestions include urging publicly traded companies to refrain from short-term earnings forecasts, embracing corporate transparency and pushing for independent boards.

“We share the view that constructive dialogue requires finding common ground - a starting point to foster the economic growth that benefits shareholders, employees and the economy as a whole,” according to the letter.

“To that end, we have worked to find commonsense principles.”

Fink, who runs the world’s largest asset manager, already encouraged chief executive officers in a letter earlier this year to stop offering earnings guidance and increase their focus on long-term goals.

In the letter on Thursday, the executives said if companies do provide earnings guidance, they should avoid inflated projections and forecasts should be realistic.

“Our financial markets have become too obsessed with quarterly earnings forecasts,” according to the letter.

“Companies should not feel obligated to provide earnings guidance - and should only do so if they believe that providing such guidance is beneficial to shareholders.”

Compensation reporting

Another recommendation urges companies to account for stock-based compensation in their non-GAAP earnings. Group members also said they would prefer companies not have multiple classes of stock, which grants some shareholders more say when voting.

Other executives that were part of this public letter include heads of General Motors, General Electric and Verizon Communications, among others. Money-management firms whose executives participated included Capital Group, Vanguard Group and T. Rowe Price Group.

warren buffett  |  financial reporting
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