Some helpful information when linking ISS Institutional Shareholder Services data with CRSP data
As of Dec 2022, WRDS hosts multiple ISS data products, including:
Since all these data products do not share the same company identification variables, there is no single way to link all the ISS products with other databases. However, this documentation provides some helpful tips that can be used to link each of these ISS products to CRSP data. (Many of the same recommendations will also apply when linking ISS products to Compustat and IBES.)
The ISS Directors dataset contains information about members of the board for S&P 1500 companies. The variables included are related to individual board directors (e.g., name, age, tenure, gender, committee memberships, primary employer and title, etc). The ISS database contains both current and legacy data. We focus here on the information included in the current data. The SAS files are stored in the following directory : “/wrds/iss/sasdata/directors”. The file that contains the current version of the data is RMDIRECTORS. The relevant variables to link with other databases are Company ID, historical ticker, historical cusip (9-digit), and the meeting date.
The ISS Governance dataset provides data on takeover defense and other corporate governance provisions, including: classified boards, cumulative voting, golden parachutes, poison pills and state takeover laws. Similar to the Directors data, the Governance dataset contains both current and legacy data. We focus here on the information included in the current data. The SAS files are stored in the following directory : "/wrds/iss/sasdata/governance". The file that contains the current version of the data is RMGOVERNANCE. The relevant variables to link with other databases are Company ID, historical ticker, historical cusip (9-digit), and the meeting date.
The ISS Incentive Lab database provides access to executive compensation performance metrics, goals, and payout structure. SAS files for the Incentive Lab database are stored in the following directory : "/wrds/iss/sasdata/incentive_lab". The file that contains company information to be used in firm linking procedure is COMPANYFY. This file contains variables such as CIK, ticker, cusip, fiscayearend, meetingdate and filling dates among other company information. An important detail is that cusip, tickers and company names are not historical. They are header information. You should be aware of this fact when you build your linking procedures.
This following table is an example of Google/Alphabet identifiers in the Incentive Lab’s companyfy file.
Google/Alphabet data comes from 2009. The CIK changed in 2015. Ticker GOOGL and CUSIP 02079K305 are assigned by Incentive Lab since 2009. They are ‘header’ info. This is different from historical data (kept by CRSP) where the ticker GOOGL comes from April 2014 and the CUSIP 02079K305 comes from October 2015. Also, for CRSP, there is only one PERMCO during the whole period (45483).
The ISS Shareholder Proposal database provide proposals that came to a vote as well as those that were withdrawn by the proponent or allowed to be omitted from the proxy by the SEC. This database also provides meeting dates and outcomes. Some of the files are legacy (for example, the VOTES file has information only up to 2006). There are several files under this topic. The list below includes the subdirectory, the name of the file, and key company variables that could be used for linking with other databases. Many of these have the standard linking variables (e.g. cusip, ticker). The other ones have only their ISS company id.