Shareholder rights – the way forward

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.

The Investors Chronicle published a five page article on Friday (7/11/2014) on the campaign for improved shareholder rights under the title “Take Control”. The writer Julia Bradshaw gave a good overview of the position of voting and information rights in the UK in comparison with other countries – yes we are way behind most of them – and the activities of representative shareholder associations. The legal risks of holding shares in nominee accounts and why anyone who understands the intricacies of the matter would try to avoid them is given, and the counter arguments put in the article by a well known stockbroker (low costs, easy trading) are surely missing the point – you don’t need a nominee system to provide those as any Personal Crest Member knows. But please go and read the article for yourself because it is indeed a very educational piece.

I will quote from it on the concluding messages in the article: “Whether the solution is to scrap nominee accounts altogether in favour of an electronic register, or enforce stricter rules on nominees is still uncertain. However, this can only be achieved with the help of a strong, united group representing all UK individual shareholders” and “Finally, without critical mass, individual shareholders haven’t got a hope of influencing the boardroom, so please, sign up and become a member of either UKSA or ShareSoc so that one day, UK individual shareholders will have one strong, united and influential voice“. These are wise words indeed.

Without going into the history of why there are two representative bodies, the Chairman and other directors of ShareSoc would like to say that we would be glad to co-operate with any other body which has similar views on how to tackle the problems of nominee accounts. So far as we understand it, UKSA does take a similar stance. In essence we are open to any discussion on this at any time and at any place with UKSA and our Chairman is progressing this. Whether this would lead to closer co-operation on other matters would need to be seen.

Don’t forget to sign the ShareSoc petition on improving shareholder rights here: if you have not already done so.

Roger Lawson

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