Monks Wins Fiduciary Prize

Robert A. G. Monks is the first winner of the Frankel Fiduciary Prize.

The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard made the announcement.

“Bob Monks has been an outspoken advocate and prolific author on corporate governance, transparency and democracy,” said Knut Rostad, president of the Institute. “At the heart of much of his work has been restoring management accountability to shareholders, the ultimate owners.”

Monks was appointed a founding trustee of the Federal Employee Retirement System by President Reagan, and also served in the Department of Labor, as Administrator of the Office of Pension and Welfare Benefit programs.

He also was a founder of Institutional Shareholder Services, and co-founded The Corporate Library — now Governance Metrics International.

Monks found the Hermes Lens Fund, and has served as a director of twelve publicly traded companies.

Monks has authored or co-authored eight books, published more than a hundred papers, and, with Nell Minow, published five editions of Corporate Governance.

His most recent book is titled — Citizens DisUnited: Passive Investors, Drone CEOs, and the Corporate Capture of the American Dream (Miniver Press, 2013).

In it, Monks argues that “drone corporations” have captured the American dream.

“By drone corporation, I mean one in which there is no element of effective ownership to monitor or to restrain the exercise of power by the corporate executive,” Monks told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview earlier this year.

Most major American corporations are drone corporations.

“I would say that about 60 percent of the biggest ones are,” Monks said. “Companies like General Electric. Exxon. IBM.”

Name some that aren’t drones.

“Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway, Google, Apple,” Monks says.

The key characteristic of a drone corporation?

“Drones were more likely to externalize liability,” Monks said. “In comparing drone corporations to non-drone corporations, we discovered that the drone corporations were distinctly more likely to externalize liability. They were distinctly more liable to be indicted for criminal activity. And the extent of their criminal fines were significantly larger than those for the non drones.”

The New York Times profiled Monks earlier this month.

The Frankel Fiduciary Prize was established “to acknowledge individuals who have made significant contributions to the preservation and advancement of fiduciary principles in public life.”

The prize is named for Professor Tamar Frankel, the Michaels Faculty Research Scholar at the Boston University School of Law.

The Frankel Fiduciary Prize Selection Committee members are, in addition to Rostad,  Brooksley E. Born, Retired Partner, Arnold & Porter,  Columbia Law Professor John Coffee, Duke Law Professor Deborah DeMott, and Princeton University Investment Company president Andrew Golden.

“Bob Monks is the perfect choice to inaugurate what we hope will be a long tradition of recognizing those persons who over a career have worked to protect and safeguard the position of the investor,” Coffee said. “While also a prolific writer and theorist of corporate governance, he has lived a life in the arena, fighting battle after battle to make the market a fairer and safer place for the American shareholder. Whether or not it realizes it, the proactive hedge fund of today is following in his pioneering footsteps.”

The Institute will hold a forum in Washington in the fall where Monks will receive the prize.

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