UK Individual Shareholders Society
THE FRAMEWORK FOR INVESTMENT
Successful and profitable investment depends on having an appropriate regulatory
and legal framework so that companies can be managed successfully, so that the profits
return to investors and not primarily to the company managers or the agents handling
your investment, and so that the returns that result are not excessively taxed.
To achieve all of this has resulted in a very complex legal environment (for example, the Companies Act now in effect was the largest parliamentary bill ever published) and there are layers of Government regulations and rules from other bodies and policies on top of that. Some of these issues can seem very esoteric to the novice investor, or boring or of little account to those who simply want to make money. But they are the key to achieving investment profits.
Unfortunately there are still many things wrong with the UK investment scene. Individual investors are discriminated against in many ways because policies have been determined to a large extent by the views of institutional investors or major public company directors. Alternatively they have been influenced by politicians who have no experience or knowledge of stock market investment, and in some cases who view stock market investors as mere gamblers, or “speculators”, as they phrase it.
We actively promote the views of individual investors in these matters, trying to change the regulatory environment and practices where appropriate, and we respond to public consultations on these matters so that your voice is heard. The three key areas in which we would like to see reform are:
1. Proper enfranchisement of shareholders (nominee accounts to be discouraged) so that shareholder democracy is restored.
2. Reformed corporate governance so that shareholders control companies and not the management. Specifically that shareholder committees appoint the auditors, make directors appointments and set the remuneration of directors.
3. Changes in legislation to protect shareholders rights and enable shareholders to pursue errant companies and directors when necessary.
Our policies on those and other matters have been summarised in our Manifesto. These are the main points:
The oversight of companies should be restored to their owners.
Shareholder democracy should be improved and shareholder rights strengthened.
The legal framework for companies should be changed to improve accountability.
The taxation of investment profits should be reformed to make it more equitable and reduce complexity.
Excessive director pay needs to be restrained.
Direct share ownership should be encouraged.
Investment education needs to be improved.
Information flow to shareholders should be improved, with all shareholders receiving the same information.
Insolvency law should be reformed.
Stock market regulation and enforcement should be improved, especially for the AIM Market.
See the box to the right for how to obtain the full Manifesto document.
Researching and monitoring companies should not involve looking through a glass darkly.
Policy is always under development and can also be changed.
Please let us know if you have suggestions for new policies, or comments on existing ones.
THE FULL MANIFESTO
In June 2011 we published our Manifesto that summarises our policies, explains why they are needed and provides more details on specific proposals.
It is contained in this pdf document: Manifesto (click on link to open).
That document will form the basis of future policy development.
In September 2011 we published a note which explains how we suggest shareholder democracy should be improved, specifically in regards to the appointment of directors and their remuneration.
This is contained in this pdf document: Shareholder Committees (click on link to open).
Note: there are comprehensive analyses of what is wrong with the UK financial sector,
and what we would like to see done about it based on our Manifesto, in our submissions
to the Kay Review and the Executive Remuneration Discussion Paper -
The importance of having active and competent Non-
DEMATERIALISATION, NOMINEE ACCOUNTS AND SHAREHOLDER RIGHTS
The problems that arise from the disenfranchisement of shareholders and the undermining of shareholder democracy are a key part of our manifesto. A current threat is the “dematerialisation” of paper share certificates where investors are present on the share register of a company and are hence “members” and recognised as such in terms of voting and information rights. We published this note in March 2013 on the subject: Dematerialisation.
Subsequently we launched a campaign on shareholder rights and the nominee system
in October 2014 to tackle many of the issues raised. See this web page for more information:
DIRECTOR REMUNERATION GUIDELINES
In May 2016 we published this document that gives ShareSoc’s guidelines for the remuneration
of public company directors: ShareSoc-