Nominee Accounts

Ventus and Ventus 2 VCTs– obstacles to a level playing field in unseating directors

By Cliff Weight, ShareSoc Director I was pleased to see the highly respected and influential Investors Chronicle taking an interest in and writing a balance article on the Ventus funds, see https://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/comment/2019/07/18/limits-of-influence/ The IC seems to think ShareSoc is leading and driving the campaign, whereas the campaign leader is Nick Curtis, but other than this point I think it is a very good article. What is becoming apparent is how extremely difficult it is to unseat directors, because the playing field is tilted so ...

Shareholder Rights Being Eroded

There is a good article in the Financial Times today (Saturday 22/6/2019) which is headlined “UK shareholder rights being eroded”. As the article says, almost no investors who buy shares legally own the shares they have bought, which rather surprises them. That’s because most of them buy via nominee accounts operated by stockbrokers and platforms. Not only that, but most nominee accounts are “pooled” accounts so even identifying who are the “beneficial owners” is not always easy. Does it matter? Yes it ...

Worldwide Healthcare Trust and Investor Voting

I recently received the Annual Report of Worldwide Healthcare Trust (WWH). This is one of those companies that has stopped sending out proxy voting forms for their AGM. The Registrar is Link Asset Services who seem to be making it as difficult as possible for shareholders on the register to vote. You either have to contact them to request a proxy voting form, or register for their on-line portal. I don’t want to register (and the last time I tried it ...

Progress at Last! Review of Intermediated Securities

As members of ShareSoc will know, our Shareholder Rights Campaign is one of our most important activities. The current difficulty of contacting shareholders whose shares are held in nominee accounts, and the difficulty many such shareholders have in voting, is a severe impediment to driving necessary change. This is a particular problem with smallcap companies. In other words, without improved shareholder rights, it is difficult for any other campaigns directed at problem companies to succeed. Less scrupulous directors know this and feel ...

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 ...

The Unstoppable Glacier of Government’s Concerted Actions?

By Cliff Weight, Director, ShareSoc We sometimes see things changing at a glacier-like pace. But once a glacier starts moving it has huge momentum and is unstoppable. My question is: is this metaphor applicable to the way Government is behaving with regard to business? The civil servants who drive Government policy transcend the short lives of Parliament. Taking this perspective what do we see? My take on this is as follows. The Financial Crisis terrified nearly everyone. We stared into the abyss. We were ...

Stewardship Should Reflect Views of Beneficial Owners

We, ShareSoc, think that individual investors have been disenfranchised by the nominee system and by the difficulties in getting timely copies of Annual Reports, AGM notices and voting forms. It is estimated only 6% of individual investors shares get voted, which is a disgrace. What is needed is a neat, easy to use system that makes it ultra quick and easy to vote your shares. Individuals who invest in funds have little or no control over how the shares in their funds ...

Missing Dividends

I talked about having too much cash in my ISA and SIPP accounts in my last blog post. But in fact it’s not as much as it should be because dividends on my ISA holdings in JPMorgan Japan Smaller Companies Trust (JPS) did not arrive as expected. They should have been paid on the 7th November, and were on my direct holding on the register but not on my ISA ones. The ISA ones are held in two different ISA accounts ...

Meeting with Link Asset Services

I recently attended a meeting with Link Asset Services who claim to be the largest UK share registrar. In addition to me there were two senior managers from Link and two ShareSoc directors (Mark Northway and Mark Bentley). ShareSoc and I do of course have a long-standing interest in ensuring shareholders can and do vote their shares at General Meetings. Other matters discussed were the problems created by nominee accounts, in the Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD), in the Central Securities Deposit ...

IPOs, Platforms, Growth Stocks and Shareholder Rights

I agreed with FT writer Neil Collins in a previous article when discussing the prospective IPO of Aston Martin (AML) – “never buy a share in an initial public offering” he suggested because those who are selling know more about the stock than you do. We were certainly right about that company because the share price is now 24% below the IPO price. Smithson Investment Trust (SSON) did rather better on its first day of trading on Friday, moving to a 2% premium. ...