This blog gives you the latest topical news plus some informal comments on them from ShareSoc’s directors and other contributors. These are the personal comments of the authors and not necessarily the considered views of ShareSoc. The writers may hold shares in the companies mentioned. You can add your own comments on the blog posts, but note that ShareSoc reserves the right to remove or edit comments where they are inappropriate or defamatory.

National Grid AGM, Rensburg AIM VCT and Stocktrade

I attended the National Grid Annual General Meeting in Birmingham yesterday. Unfortunately I was not allowed to ask a question as the organisation that I was representing as a proxy put my son’s name on it rather than mine so I was only allowed in as a “guest”. I will do a fuller report on the event for the ShareSoc Members’ Network later today, but it was not a particularly exciting event this year. Not a single shareholder complained about the outrageously high pay of the executive directors. The Chairman was both dogmatic and condescending to the mainly private shareholders who attended – he could certainly do with some advice on how to handle such meetings. His boring presentation was read out from a script, and contained not a single joke to lighten the event so far as I recall. But I did learn some useful information.

Rensburg AIM VCT

I was on my way to Birmingham when I learned that the Rensburg AIM VCT AGM scheduled for today (the 22nd July) had been cancelled. In the RNS announcement’s wording it had been “adjourned” until the 25th August. So I had to change my travel plans at some inconvenience. Other shareholders might likewise have been affected, if they even knew about the change. It’s all very unusual and unreasonable to cancel an AGM at the last possible moment and is usually done only when circumstances absolutely dictate it. So for example, the Maven Income & Growth VCT AGM was not cancelled earlier this month even though travel difficulties due to a tube strike in London on the day were immense – and the directors all turned up. This reinforces my view that shareholders should vote against the directors of Rensburg AIM VCT as previously recommended. See this note for more comments: https://www.sharesoc.org/Rensburg%20AIM%20VCT%20Newsletter%2013.pdf

Stocktrade and Personal Crest Membership

One thing I did learn from the National Grid AGM was that Stocktrade are to definitely cease supporting Personal Crest Membership following the takeover by Alliance Trust Savings. Representatives of Stocktrade were at the meeting and I was told that such investors will be advised very soon that they will have to move into a nominee account or depart. I will definitely be departing in that case. The grounds given were the extra administrative cost of Personal Crest accounts which I believe is false. In any case, if that was so why not simply charge more for them? I have already made representations on this matter and will do so again. It is exceedingly annoying that many stockbrokers are now positively moving to withdraw support of Personal Crest membership. Such accounts are a very good way to ensure you get all your rights as a shareholder. There was an article on the benefits of such accounts in the June ShareSoc Newsletter and I will certainly be looking for another stockbroker who does support them as a priority. If anyone wishes to make representations on this matter to Alliance Trust, Patrick Mill is the Managing Director of Alliance Trust Savings (ATS) – his address is Alliance Trust Savings Limited, PO Box 164, 8 West Marketgait, Dundee, DD1 9YP. Or send an email to contact@alliancetrust.co.uk . You may also care to copy Katherine Garrett-Cox who is the CEO of Alliance Trust and who also Chairs the ATS subsidiary, and also Mrs Karin Forseke who chairs Alliance Trust itself (the parent company).

Roger Lawson

9 Comments
  1. Steve Holdsworth 22nd July 2015 at 12:15 pm

    I shall certainly be leaving Stocktrade if they go ahead and abolish Personal CREST accounts for existing customers. Thanks for the heads-up on this as it will give me time to find another broker who will continue to offer the service. A shame though, as I have been very happy with Stocktrade.

  2. sharesoc 23rd July 2015 at 7:40 am

    To johnR: Being given details of meetings and letters of representation is not the same as having the rights yourself. Why should you rely on the condescension of your stockbroker to pass on those rights when they are your rights not his in essence? And those are only some of the rights you have as a shareholder on the register of a company. That’s apart from the legal risks and uncertainties implicit in nominee accounts. ShareSoc has spelled this out many times and you should read this page of our web site for further information: https://www.sharesoc.org/campaigns/shareholder-rights-campaign/
    Roger Lawson

  3. johnR 23rd July 2015 at 7:33 am

    I’ve nominee a/cs at Barclays & Halifax. Both send me all details AGM’s,actions etc and letters of representation to vote for ALL my holdings automatically -no charge- lasts 3 years then renew request. No problem

  4. Steve Holdsworth 23rd July 2015 at 8:06 am

    I have just emailed Alliance Trust Savings:
    ______________________

    Dear Sirs,

    I am disappointed to learn that Alliance Trust Savings is planning to discontinue offering the Personal CREST Account option to Stocktrade clients when you take over the business in the autumn.

    I for one will certainly be taking my business elsewhere and I know that others I have been in contact with feel the same way.

    I understand that such accounts might mean an increased administrative cost for the broker but if that is the case why not at least offer clients the option of paying higher fees to cover this cost?

    Given the choice, I would rather do that than take my business away from Stocktrade, with whom I have been a satisfied customer for many years.

    Kind regards,
    _______________________

    I await their reply with interest.

  5. Richard Bryan 23rd July 2015 at 7:25 pm

    How annoying, particularly as it’s holiday time. I too would certainly want to transfer to another broker offering personal crest. Does anyone have recommendations for one – particularly on price and availability of online trading? Also, the mechanics of the transfer – does the new broker get authorised to run the existing crest account, so all the details with the registrar(s) remain the same, or is every entry transferred individually to a new crest account?

    • Steve Holdsworth 24th July 2015 at 6:36 am

      Hi Richard,

      I have spoken with Redmayne Bentley and Fidelity Share Network and they both said that if I open a CREST account with them it will be straightforward for them to arrange for my existing CREST holdings with Stocktrade to be moved across once the account is open.

      I am going to wait and see what Stocktrade’s exit arrangements are before doing anything.

  6. sharesoc 24th July 2015 at 7:22 am

    I understand Killik & Co are also still offering Personal Crest accounts.

  7. gostevie 10th August 2015 at 6:42 am

    Still no reply form Alliance Trust Savings to the email I sent them on 23rd July,

  8. Richard Bryan 12th September 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks for the suggestions – I’ve gone for Fidelity ShareNetwork, although they’ve insisted on opening a new Crest account, rather than going through the ‘change of sponsor’ process….
    I’ve had no response from Stocktrade, though, and I see the info on their web site hasn’t changed since before the 2 Sep deadline.

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