Alan Dignam


This Article argues that the U.K. regulatory response to the financial crisis, in the form of “stewardship” and shareholder engagement, is an error built on a misunderstanding of the key active role shareholders played in the enormous corporate governance failure represented by the banking crisis. Shareholders’ passivity, rather than activity, has characterized the reform perception of the shareholder role in corporate governance. This characterization led to the conclusion that if only they were more active they would be more responsible “stewards” of the corporation. If, as this Article argues, shareholder activity was part of the problem in the banks, then encouraging increased shareholder action and exporting it outside of banks, as we have subsequently done in the United Kingdom, risks a wider systemic corporate governance failure. In short, we have learned the wrong lesson about shareholders from the banking crisis.