E*Trade Advocates Paperless Proxy Statements

e-trade-logo.jpgAlthough my meager investments have taken a nose dive lately (whose haven’t?), there’s one extra detail that still consistently bugs me – huge 100-page proxy statements sent to shareholders which are invariably tossed in the trash (yeah, maybe a few people recycle them). Even if I thought my voice amounted to much, the last thing I need is another tome in the mail – recycled or not. The idea of being able to vote for something meaningful with my shares matters – a lot. So why is it difficult to vote for an elimination of paper documents to make this happen?
Well, today I got an impressive piece of mail from E*Trade, my primary broker, remarkably smaller than usual in weight, urging me to “make a positive impact on my investment … while reducing the negative impact on the environment.” I took the time to open it and read the fine print, offering me an online way to vote for the board of directors of one of my many poor-performing holdings while sparing me the need to fly to god-knows-where to cast my vote in person. Most interestingly, however, once I logged in, I was quickly offered a chance to decline all paper statements from the company, be they resolutions, proxy statements, or anything else.
Now, that’s not only great news for the planet, it’s great news for the company bottom line, and it actually makes me think my vote might matter – if for no other reason than it makes it that much more visible to me. Haven’t we crossed the threshold wherein paperless communication should be the default, rather than the opt-in? My wounded investments say yes, and I say thanks E*Trade for helping me get there.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.