Shareholder Democracy

Nominee system defeats shareholder voting

ShareSoc  has recently issued a survey to our Members and the public covering their voting and attendance at General Meetings and the prevalence of the use of nominee accounts. The results demonstrate that the nominee account system undermines shareholders' ability to vote at the General Meetings of the companies they own.Nominee accounts are now the commonest form in which investors hold shares in companies (89% of ShareSoc Members held some shares in a nominee account, as opposed to the use of ...

Eurofinuse adopts manifesto

Eurofinuse, a representative body for European shareholder organisations of which ShareSoc is a Member, has adopted a "Better Finance Manifesto". They are launching this before the European Parliament elections in May to try and influence politicians to adopt policies to protect savers and investors over the coming years.Although some of the manifesto policies are focussed on problems in other countries in Europe than the UK, there are many meritorious aspects. Here's just a few of the issues they cover:1. That there ...

Hargreaves Lansdown doubles charges for some investors

On the 15th January Hargreaves Lansdown (HL) announced new charges on its investment platform, which is one of the most widely used by private investors. The changes are no doubt provoked by the new rules whereby funds can no longer pass part of their charges back to HL, as a result of the RDR (Retail Distribution Review). But the changes will mean that the annual fees paid to HL by some investors will double. ShareSoc has issued a press release explaining ...

Survey on voting and nominee accounts

ShareSoc is working on a campaign regarding shareholder rights for private shareholders and it is important for us to obtain the evidence on whether you vote the shares you hold at General Meetings, whether you attend such meetings and whether you receive information from the companies in which you invest. We have therefore sent a survey to all of our members asking them to respond. It is also possible for non-members to complete the survey using the link below (please also ...

Collective Engagement – a new “City Club” for institutions?

The Kay Review advocated the setting up of a mechanism whereby institutional investors could engage better with public companies. This was seen as a way to improve understanding between investors and companies, to encourage more long-term thinking, to enable debate on strategic options and to tackle such problems as excessive pay.A first step has been the setting up of a "Collective Engagement Working Group" under the Chairmanship of James Anderson of Baillie Gifford. It has produced a report on how such ...

RBS, Hibu and the unacceptable face of banking

There have been extensive media comments lately on the activities of the Royal Bank of Scotland in lending to smaller businesses, and what they did when those businesses got into financial difficulties. The articles printed focussed on two reports on the activities of RBS - a report commissioned by the bank by Sir Andrew Large, and one by Lawrence Tomlinson* who acts as a consultant to the BIS Department. Both reports, but particularly the latter one, were quite damning about the ...

Pan African Resources AGM Report – a minor victory for shareholders on buy-backs

Pan African Resources is a South African gold mining company, but they are registered in the UK and hence hold their AGMs in London. This year it was at 10.00 am on the 22nd November in the City of London despite shareholders complaining about the 10.00 am start time last year. A full report is here, but here are some of the noteworthy points. Only the Chairman Keith Spencer was present from the directors, and he said the main reason for absence ...

Great news – real company owners to be disclosed

The Prime Minister has announced that the details of who really owns and controls UK companies will be made publicly accessible. More details will be announced in early 2014,, but the key paragraph in the announcement from the BIS Department includes the statement that the Government will “………potentially use as a model the disclosure regime that currently applies in relation to disclosure of information on company shareholders. This would mean that companies would hold information on the names and addresses of ...

London Investor Show Olympia

ShareSoc exhibited at the London Investor Show at Olympia on the 25th October. It proved to be a good show in terms of attracting new members and meeting existing ones even though there is substantial effort in organising and manning a stand. A photograph of the stand is shown to the right - Member Steve Holdsworth assisting at front, Director Chris Spencer-Phillips talking to a visitor. Incidentally the posters we used on the stand were printed by Printed.com – a division of ...

Transparency and Trust – Consultation Response Submitted

ShareSoc is submitting a response to the BIS Discussion Paper on “Transparency & Trust” which can be read here:  www.sharesoc.org/Transparency_&_Trust_ShareSoc_Response.pdf . This wide ranging consultation is on a number of proposals to tackle many problems in the modern corporate scene, with a particular focus on tax avoidance and money laundering. Knowing who controls and owns companies is one of the concerns, but it also aims to tackle incompetent and fraudulent directors. A summary of the key points ShareSoc made in our ...