January 26, 1999
How You Can Help
So we've explained what your rights as an investor are and we've shown you how some major companies measure up in the investor relations area. How can you help encourage changes in the companies you own? The answer is just a few lines away. We've composed a model letter explaining your rights as an investor that you can send to companies you own. Copy the letter into a word processor or save it as a document in your browser, make adjustments as necessary, and be sure to fill in the two spaces highlighted in red. Then e-mail the document to the company or print it out and let the U.S. Postal Service send it for you. If you need an address visit Companies Online.
Dear Director of Investor Relations:
Imagine you own a stake in a business. You're a mostly silent partner since there's a full-time management team that runs the joint. You're invested for the long haul, but you still want to keep a close tab on how things are going. After all, this investment is suppose to help pay for your dream house, your kids' college tuition, or your own retirement.
If you can imagine this, then you know what it's like to be an individual investor. As owners of a business, we have a lot at stake. So we have a right to be told how the business is faring and to be told in a timely and complete fashion. Sure, we know it's smart to keep Wall Street analysts and the media well informed about corporate developments. Yet, we don't want our news filtered through these sources. We want it direct.
In short, we want management to treat us like owners by gladly answering our questions, actively reaching out to help us better understand the business, and vigilantly guarding against the kind of selective disclosure that gives some investors an unfair advantage. We don't ever want to be told, for example, that management is holding a conference call with analysts and institutional investors and that we individual investors aren't invited. That's just wrong.
As a sign of this commitment to shareowners big and small, our company should endorse and embrace the best practices for shareowner relations outlined by the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) in its 1996 booklet Standards and Guidance for Disclosure. These recommendations provide a baseline for good shareowner relations because they ensure that all investors are treated fairly.
I would particularly like to see [Enter Text Here]
I'm sure that you're anxious to improve the way the company communicates with its owners. Thanks for your attention and continued hard work.
Very Foolishly yours,