According to a news release on the Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive poll, about one-third (36%) of respondents said poor corporate governance had led them to reduce or divest holdings in a company, slightly up from last year (30%). About half of investors (49%) agreed they can trust companies to provide complete and accurate financial information upon which they can make investment decisions, according to the poll.
Almost half of US adult investors (49%) said that boards of directors are most responsible for corporate governance, an increase from 45% in 2005. Twenty-one percent of investors considered chief executive officers to be the most responsible, while 19% said senior management is most responsible.
About half of investors agreed that boards of directors do a good job at overseeing the companies they govern (55%) and at managing executive compensation (45%). Most investors said the chairman of the board title should go to an independent director (39%) or the chief executive officer (25%), while a fair amount said they do not know (28%).
Also, when asked about what they know or may have heard about the provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley, including its restrictions and penalties for misinterpretation or misuse of company financial information, 32% said the law has been effective at improving the transparency of financial information at public companies, while about one-quarter (24%) said it has not worked. Twenty-one percent said Sarbanes-Oxley has been effective at improving boards of directors’ ability to manage executive compensation, and 35% say it has not been effective.
The survey was conducted online within the United States between September 19 – 21, 2006 among 2,345 adults (aged 18 and over), 1,345 of whom invest in long-term financial service investment products.