Asked about Simpson's comments, bank spokesman Lawrence Grayson said "The board and management have engaged extensively with shareholders and recognize that there are varying views on board leadership models, which is why the board committed to holding a vote."
Much is at stake in the outcome of the vote. If Moynihan loses, it could mark a key point in the demise of the imperial CEO, who runs his or her company with essentially a free hand.
Similar votes at JPMorgan Chase's annual meetings in 2013 and 2012 failed to strip CEO Jamie Dimon of his chairman title, just like votes at Wells Fargo from 2005 through 2007 fell short of stripping CEO Richard Kovacevich of his additional role as chairman.
Typically, chief executives lose chairman titles as part of broader campaigns by activist investors to change a company. In 2013 for example, oil and gas company Hess relieved CEO John Hess of his chairman duties to appease activist hedge fund Elliott Management, which was campaigning to break up the company.
Investors may have reason to be upset with Moynihan's performance. The bank's shares have lagged major rivals, including Citigroup's and JPMorgan Chase's, for the nearly six years that Moynihan has been chief executive, and over the last year.
Profits have been much lower than those rivals, too, in large part because of Bank of America having paid out more than $70 billion to settle crisis-linked claims and suits. Many of these difficulties stem from decisions made by Moynihan's predecessor, Ken Lewis.
His ill-timed acquisitions, including buying subprime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial at the height of the housing crisis, forced the bank to seek at least two government rescues. Shareholders decided in 2009 that he needed better oversight, and voted to separate his duties.
Knowing 1,000 times more
Some executives and investors believe that activists are foolish to focus on splitting Moynihan's roles now.
Executives have better information about what is happening in a company, and do not necessarily benefit from better oversight, former Wells Fargo CEO Richard Kovacevich told Reuters in an interview last week.
"If I don't know 1,000 times more than any stockholder what's best for Wells Fargo, I should be fired," he added.
Still, independent chairmen are becoming more common, according to executive search firm Spencer Stuart. Twenty-eight percent of S&P 500 boards had independent chairmen in 2014, up from nine percent in 2004, a report from the recruiter states.
The financial crisis spurred some investors to pay closer attention to management. So has the rise of passive investing, said Boston University law professor Cornelius Hurley, who studies governance matters. Index investors cannot just sell shares of a company they dislike, forcing them instead to engage more with company managers he said.