Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon, and 11 other US corporate titans want commonsense to replace America's worst business practices

Some of the biggest names in American business want companies to change their behaviour.

Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon, and more signed on to a list of suggested changes that companies should adopt entitled “Commonsense Corporate Governance Principles.”

The group said that companies need to change the way they are managing their board of directors, reporting earnings, and interacting with major investors.

“Our future depends on these companies being managed effectively for long-term prosperity, which is why the governance of American companies is so important to every American,” said the group in a letter on their website.

“Corporate governance in recent years has often been an area of intense debate among investors, corporate leaders and other stakeholders. Yet, too often, that debate has generated more heat than light.”

Here’s the full list of people signing on to the letter:

  • Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
  • Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase
  • Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock
  • Marry Barra, CEO of General Motors
  • Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE
  • Mary Erodes, CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management
  • Tim Armour, CEO of Capital Group
  • Mark Machin, CEO of CPP Investment Board
  • Lowell McAdam, CEO of Verizon
  • Bill McNabb, CEO of Vanguard
  • Ronald O’Hanley, CEO of State Street Global Advisors
  • Brian Rogers, Chairman and CIO of T. Rowe Price
  • Jeff Ubben, CEO of Valueact Capital

While the group represents everything from the head of a major bank, industrial leaders, and an activist investoe, they letter said they all believed governance needed reforms.

“This diverse group certainly holds varied opinions on corporate governance,” said the letter. “But 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.”

The group came up with 6 suggestions for governance:

  1. Board of directors should be truly independent from the company and meet without the CEO present on a regular basis.
  2. Boards should be diverse and have enough turnover make sure that they remain “fresh.”
  3. The Board should have a strong independent lead director, especially if the CEO has a dual role on the Board.
  4. Companies are too obsessed with quarterly earnings and shouldn’t have to report earnings guidance.
  5. Companies should be more clear about the difference between their GAAP and adjusted earnings.
  6. Large institutional investors should have access to the company so they know what is happening when making investment decisions. Companies should also have access to the “decision-maker” at the institutional investor.

The goal of these suggestions is make companies more transparent and effective, said the letter, and are not set in stone but are an attempt to create “a continuing dialogue that will benefit millions of Americans by promoting trust in our nation’s public companies.”

Read the full letter here»

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