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ShareSoc Blog

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.

There is more news given in the News page of our web site and more analysis of news is provided in our monthly newsletter for members – see the Newsletters page.

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Chas Stanley Prices Crest Membership At Ridiculous Level

Charles Stanley have sent out a letter to all their customers who use Personal Crest accounts that in future they will be charged £504 per annum (inc. VAT). Although the company stopped offering the service to new customers some time ago, existing users have in some cases been paying nothing to be a Personal Crest member. They clearly want to get rid of all such users of their service, include those using the low-cost Chas Stanley Direct platform because £504 is ...

Response to BEIS on the FRC Kingman proposals

In a detailed joint ShareSoc-UKSA 12-page Response to BEIS on the FRC Kingman proposals, we said we support the general thrust of the Kingman proposals. Kingman is proposing a new authority to replace the FRC. We also made some more general points: Sound financial reporting is a basic prerequisite for good stewardship. However, no matter how good the financial reporting is, if a significant proportion of investors are disenfranchised and unable to make their voice heard, many of the benefits of better financial reporting will ...

Mello Trust and Funds Event and ShareSoc AGM

I managed to attend part of the Mello Trust and Funds Event in West London yesterday and although I had other commitments today, I may manage to attend the second day of the main Mello 2019 event tomorrow. If you have not attended one of these events before, it is definitely worth doing so. The only slight criticism I would have is that getting to Chiswick from South East London where I live via the slow District Line is not great. ...

Closet Indexing

I am returning to the subject of closet indexing, which is the name given to asset managers who claim to be active managers and charge active fees, but make their investments so that they are unlikely to underperform the index or outperform it. We have made the point to the FCA in a consultation response about the problems with closet trackers. It is good to see the FT giving the issue high profile coverage. The FT published an article on 8 May ...

Good News – Autonomy CFO Jailed

Good news – former CFO of public company jailed for fiddling the accounts. Oh to see that happen more often so as to deter manipulation of accounts that is so prevalent and so damaging to investors. Sushovan Hussain, the former CFO of software company Autonomy, was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by a US Court yesterday plus he was fined $4 million and ordered to forfeit $6.1 million he made from the sale of the company to Hewlett-Packard. He won’t even be ...

(BEIS) Parliament Committee Report on executive pay is highly critical of companies and fund managers

By Cliff Weight, ShareSoc Director My comments on this report of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Parliamentary Committee, published 26 March 2019, are: This report very much endorses ShareSoc’s view that pay in FTSE 100 companies is too high, and probably most companies could recruit good executives for half the current rates of remuneration. We published our views in 2016 see ShareSoc’s remuneration guidelines see https://www.sharesoc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/ShareSoc-Remuneration-Guidelines-Large-companies-2016.06.07-.pdf . We were ahead of the curve and it is good to see others ...

PwC Event: Environmental Reporting – 22 May 2019

Those members interested in the environment and its impact on your investing (and vice versa!) may wish to attend this seminar being run by PwC. Environmental Reporting - 22nd May at PwC, 7 More London starting at 3.30 p.m. Following the earlier circular advising you to 'Save the Date', further details are attached below about the PwC event on Environmental Reporting. No one can have failed to notice that in recent months environmental issues have been in the news. This promises to be ...

Changes Proposed at Companies House

The Government BEIS Department have recently proposed a number of important changes to the way Companies House operates in a public consultation entitled “Corporate Transparency and Register Reform” (see https://tinyurl.com/yysf9gdn ). Here’s a brief summary of the main points: This consultation will be of interest to anyone who is a director of a private or a public company, or a major shareholder in such a company (i.e. those People with Significant Control). Even directors of the smallest companies could be affected. A major ...

Lloyds Bank – Recommendation to vote against the Remuneration Report

I recommend shareholders vote against the Remuneration Report at the Lloyds AGM on 16 May 2019, because the proposal to pay the CEO a pension allowance of 33% of salary has attracted huge negative publicity. It has become a significant distraction and has negatively impacted the brand. The HBSC CEO accepted a reduction in his pension from 35% to 10% of salary. Antonio Horta-Osorio should have accepted the same, i.e. a 10% pension. The difference would be £293,000 year, but this is ...

Offer for Share Centre Canned and Changes at Charles Stanley

Interactive Investor Services have announced they do not intend to make an offer for the Share Centre (Share Plc – SHRE) as previously mooted. That’s probably a relief for users of that platform. But users of the Charles Stanley (CAY) broking services may have concerns as the company announced this morning that they are going to simplify and standardise their service to cut costs and improve the service to clients. Some staff will be cut but the impact on customers is not ...

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