PROXY SOLICITATION SERVICES
When the proposal is critical and time is of the essence, mutual fund companies often rely on the abilities of a proxy management firm to bridge the communication gap between the Funds and their investors...
AST Fund Solutions' comprehensive, proxy consulting and vote gathering service assists mutual funds in all aspects of the shareholder meeting process. We have developed and refined our solicitation strategies based on over 45 years of mutual fund proxy expertise. The members of the team, consisting of industry leading professionals originating from several leading solicitation firms, have pioneered techniques that have become standard practices within the proxy industry and have been credited with delivering success for the toughest solicitations. By combining their talents and solicitation insight, we have built the premier mutual fund proxy solicitor.
Why do I need a proxy management firm?
Mutual fund proxies have become more and more complex and difficult to manage. A professional proxy firm, specializing in mutual fund proxy will help a fund company get an understanding of the obstacles they may face and help guide them through the process. From the design of the material, mailing strategy, solicitation of un–voted accounts (if needed) to the tabulation/reporting and vote certification, a professional mutual fund proxy firm will help ensure a cost efficient and timely delivery of a vote.
Why would I need solicitation assistance?
If you are planning on having any non-routine proposal presented to shareholders you will likely require a proactive proxy solicitation effort. In addition to the challenge of obtaining votes for a non–routine proposal, it is important to understand that shareholder apathy is at an all time high and is the primary contributor to relatively low voting response rates for mutual fund proxies. Most investors these days are overburdened by work and family obligations and rarely have the time to review account information let alone proxy related material.
The new acceptance of mutual funds over the past 20 years has brought hundreds of billions of dollars of assets under management. One out of every three households in America now owns at least one mutual fund. As the number of individual investors holding mutual funds has increased over time, average holdings (in terms of shares) have trended downward. While this helps to diversify the base of shareholders and increases the pool of assets, Funds now often have thousands upon thousands of “small” shareholders to contact in order to stimulate the needed response in a proxy campaign. Since many "small" shareholders feel that they don't hold enough shares for their vote to make a difference, a more proactive approach than simply relying on a single mailing is usually necessary to generate significant rates of voting participation. Because of this vote apathy, proxy mailings on average, including second and third solicitations, internet and touch–tone phone voting, will yield roughly a 25–35% response. This leaves upwards of 25% of the outstanding shares still needed to meet a Fund’s vote requirement.
Why AST Fund Solutions?
AST Fund Solutions' service–oriented proxy consulting and solicitation group partners with our clients at every stage of the proxy process. Our priority is offering one–on–one personalized service and unrivaled expertise from industry leading professionals. AST Fund Solutions offers unmatched expertise and state–of–the–art call center services and technology for all types of mutual fund proxy transactions. Our strength lies in our ability to deliver comprehensive solicitation expertise throughout the entire process, from the initial development of the transaction and statement preparation to outbound vote production via telephone and final meeting reporting. Our unique approach and dedication to proxy solicitation gives us an added advantage over the competition. While others firms are burdened with corporate profitability demands, and other services vying for call center priority, we are able to maintain a clear focus and micro–manage all aspects of your mutual fund solicitation campaign from beginning to end. Simply put, our focus is not to be the biggest solicitor - it is to be the best.
Consultative Proxy Management
AST Fund Solutions will provide overall management of the proxy solicitation campaign. Our executives will work with you on the design of the proxy material, the coordination of the solicitation process, and the development and implementation of a telephone solicitation campaign in order to maximize voting responses. You will have the dedication of industry leading executives guiding you through the entire process from beginning to end. At AST Fund Solutions your project will never be handed–off to less experienced personnel.
Success Rate of the Call Center
Our conversion rate of connected phone calls to verbal votes (“TeleProxy™”) is of the highest in the industry. The high conversion rate significantly reduces the number of phone calls needed to deliver the required vote, thus minimizing the overall cost of the solicitation, while simultaneously maximizing results. Additionally, AST Fund Solutions industry–high phone number look–up rate allows for maximizing the telephone solicitation effort, while minimizing reliance on the less productive method of gathering votes through reminder mailings.
Focus on Mutual Funds
At AST Fund Solutions the mutual funds group’s only business is mutual fund proxy solicitation. 100% of our resources and personnel are dedicated towards making your proxy campaign a success. Our call center is staffed and managed by industry professionals who have proven track records of success on the toughest of mutual fund projects.
Dedication to Service
Your experience with AST Fund Solutions will exceed any expectations. Simply put, your success is our success. Our executive team is committed to excellence, and rest assured, that no detail will be overlooked, no shareholder taken for granted. Our comprehensive, hands–on approach to proxy consulting cannot be matched by any of the solicitation firms in the industry.
Our executive team has over 45 years experience in mutual fund proxy solicitation and offer expertise in the following services:
- Initial timeline and solicitation strategy development
- Statement design consulting
- Q&A and president letter drafting
- Vote Projections
- State–of–the–Art print/mailing services
- Street search and distribution services
- Reconciliation review and coordination
- First Class / Bulk postage analysis
- Telephone number and e–mail address research
- Ongoing solicitation analysis
- Scanning, tabulation reporting, and executive reports
- Outbound and inbound solicitation services
- Telephonic voting (“TeleProxy™”)
- OBO vote enhancing strategies
- Institutional and high net worth account handling
- Re–mail analysis
- Vote tracking and tabulation reporting
- Electronic e–mail reminders
- Follow–up letter drafting
- Final tabulation reconciliation
A successful proxy solicitation maximizes voting from both the mail and over the phone in a cost conscious and time effective manner...
AST Fund Solutions' vision is to develop a solicitation strategy which encompasses both the micro management of the proxy campaign process, as well as partnering with the Fund to create a solicitation plan to maximize the shareholder response.
AST Fund Solutions' Strategy for Success
Nothing is more important than managing the intricacies of the proxy process and the execution of the entire solicitation. With the Fund’s requirements in mind and teaming with the Fund, AST Fund Solutions will develop a campaign strategy and calendar of events to identify critical dates and plan responsibilities and timing for each of the parties involved. As the project progresses, AST Fund Solutions will oversee the solicitation and make adjustments as needed, to maintain momentum and progress toward our client’s goal. Our extensive mutual fund proxy experience and management abilities give us the insight to quickly spot and diffuse potential problems and respond instantaneously to any unexpected event.
At AST Fund Solutions our proxy management extends far beyond the walls of our mail facility and call center. We will work with you to develop proxy material written in plain English that is shareholder-friendly, and thus more likely to produce a voting response. Working with ADP, we will provide you with any necessary recommendations for follow–up mailings, as well as draft the reminder mailings, or other alternative methods to maximize response rates.
Prior to the start of any proxy campaign, AST Fund Solutions will perform a thorough reconciliation of the record date information to develop an understanding of the distribution of shares and in turn, begin developing the solicitation plan. AST Fund Solutions will analyze certain elements of the solicitation such as registered/beneficial shareholder splits, large institutional holders and high net worth shareholders, NOBO/OBO presence, bank and broker positions and discretionary voting, to name a few. This will allow us to identify in advance any target groups essential to the successful outcome of your shareholder meeting. Upon completion of the analysis, AST Fund Solutions will recommend a strategy to solicit voter participation from a target group of holders that will provide the greatest number of votes in the most cost–effective, timely manner. Our decades of experience have given us the ability to design cost effective solicitation strategies to deliver the vote necessary to meet even the toughest proposals.
At AST Fund Solutions, we believe that success is created from the combination of industry leading professionals, creativity in dealing with unexpected situations, our outstanding group of call center representatives and state–of–the–art technology. To that end, you will find that the benchmark for our service is the vigorous quality control measures that we have in place at every step of your project. We begin the process by hiring highly professional phone reps that have been hand–picked, carefully interviewed and thoroughly screened to ensure the highest level of professionalism when communicating with your shareholders. Representatives go through an extensive training period in which they not only review the proxy material and voting process, but are also trained on the vital elements of conducting a successful solicitation phone call, namely voice projection, tone control, conversation flow, responses and rebuttals, and finally vote conversion. The industry leading dialer and voice recording technology gives us the ability to monitor calls in real time and record every call to continually improve a representative’s knowledge and communication skills as well as to give us the ability to take the pulse of the phone solicitation by tracking shareholder feedback at any given time.
Our scripting methodology was developed from years of communication and solicitation experience and leverages a representative’s confidence level and communication skills to gain the trust of the account holder and yield a quick response. We have developed tried and true solicitation techniques and methodology which yield upwards of 60% closing rates when we get the shareholder on the phone, thereby reducing the need for multiple calls to the same account and/or the overly aggressive phone campaigns that are the hallmarks of some of our competitors. This approach has been proven to significantly reduce solicitation expenses and greatly reduce the need for meeting adjournments. Our call center team has over 30 years of experience in the mutual fund industry, and has successfully completed some of the most challenging projects ever undertaken. Finally, it is the constant involvement of our management team and the dedication to quality at every step of the solicitation process that are at the heart of our approach to every project we work on.
Simply put, at AST Fund Solutions we know how to get results! We have in place a management team that has collectively delivered success on thousands of mutual fund shareholder meetings. We have coupled that talent with proprietary technology developed specifically for mutual fund proxy solicitations and the resources needed to provide the highest level of service throughout every step of the process. You will find that at AST Fund Solutions we work as a team to ensure the highest degree of service, and partner with you to deliver success.