Pioneer Funds was seeking a provider to help assess whether the SEC notice and access regulations were a viable option for the Pioneer funds' proxy mailings. They wanted to use one proxy statement for the numerous entities involved, some of which were trusts with multiple funds. This meant the weight of each complete proxy kit would be over 9 ounces. The print and mailing cost for each 200-plus page proxy statement was nearly five dollars. Therefore each proxy package reduction would garner significant savings.
The notice and access rules created an opportunity to reduce costs of printing and postage, supporting a key objective of fund management: to reduce costs for the mutual funds and their shareholders. All shareholders continue to have the opportunity to receive a full set of proxy materials.
We thoroughly analyzed the Pioneer shareholder base on a fund by fund and trust basis, to determine the feasibility of using a notice and access hybrid approach. We then developed a campaign plan that would maximize success for all funds and present cost savings.
Great care was taken in this plan to avoid a situation where, in order to pass some of the more difficult proposals, more money would have been spent than if conducting the proxy in a traditional manner. A thorough analysis of the Pioneer accounts, taking into consideration echo voting and other factors, identified the clients to whom the mailing of a "notice only" was preferable.
In order to facilitate registered voter response, we developed a user-friendly notice document that directed the shareholder to our web site. The landing page, as required by the SEC rules, was a publicly accessible page and would allow any individual to review the proxy materials. Once a registered shareholder was ready to vote, they entered specific codes located on their notice or proxy card to access the voting site, where they could request formats for future deliveries — paper or electronic — or to request a full set of materials for this campaign.
By utilizing the hybrid notice and access solution, Pioneer was able to reduce the cost of printing materials that would have been necessary to mail full kits to all shareholders. In addition, we were able to reduce the first class postage rate for "notice only" accounts by more than 150%.