ShareSoc: a voice for small share­hold­ers

Web­site: www.sharesoc.org

Shares - - SHARES SPOTLIGHT -

Who rep­re­sents the in­ter­ests of in­di­vid­ual share­hold­ers in the UK? ShareSoc, the UK In­di­vid­ual Share­hold­ers So­ci­ety, a not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion cre­ated by in­vestors, for in­vestors, does just that.

In­di­vid­ual di­rect in­vestors cur­rently own around 12% of the stock mar­ket and face myr­iad chal­lenges, from poor share­holder democ­racy to oner­ous gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion and tax­a­tion.

In an ever-chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment, ShareSoc acts as an ed­u­ca­tional re­source and as a sort of ‘trade union’ for in­vestors, run­ning cam­paigns tar­geted at prob­lem com­pa­nies and er­rant fi­nan­cial in­ter­me­di­aries, or­gan­is­ing ed­u­ca­tional events and reg­u­lar com­pany sem­i­nars and pub­lish­ing a monthly news­let­ter with ex­clu­sive con­tent for its mem­bers.

MAK­ING A DIF­FER­ENCE

A re­cent ex­am­ple of ShareSoc mak­ing a dif­fer­ence is its cam­paign to set up a share­holder com­mit­tee within

RBS (RBS). Af­ter a long bat­tle with the bank, the so­ci­ety has man­aged to req­ui­si­tion a spe­cial res­o­lu­tion on the agenda for this year’s AGM. The com­mit­tee, if im­ple­mented, would see re­tail in­vestors gain more in­flu­ence over the bank­ing group, which also in­cludes the NatWest and Ul­ster Bank brands. Should share­hold­ers vote in favour of the res­o­lu­tion, RBS would be the first UK com­pany to es­tab­lish a for­mal share­holder com­mit­tee.

AD­DRESS­ING COR­PO­RATE FAIL­INGS

Many of the re­cent in­vest­ment dis­as­ters, such as Car­il­lion’s liq­ui­da­tion and the Aviva Pref­er­ence Shares de­ba­cle, could po­ten­tially have been pre­dicted and avoided if these com­pa­nies had adopted Share­holder Com­mit­tees.

ShareSoc ac­tively lob­bied reg­u­la­tors and gov­ern­ment on both of these is­sues and many sim­i­lar matters, such as the mis­state­ment of ac­counts at Blancco and Red­cen­tric, on be­half of all in­di­vid­ual share­hold­ers.

DE­FEND­ING YOUR RIGHTS

The use of nom­i­nee ac­counts has eroded many of the rights as­so­ci­ated with share own­er­ship, and this, in turn, has di­min­ished the in­flu­ence of com­pany own­ers over their boards of direc­tors.

ShareSoc has put con­sid­er­able ef­fort in the last few years into a cam­paign on ‘share­holder rights’ to tackle the nom­i­nee ac­count is­sue and en­sure that all in­vestors can vote at Gen­eral Meet­ings and get in­for­ma­tion from com­pa­nies in which they are in­vested.

Any­one un­for­tu­nate enough to have an ac­count with the re­cently failed Beau­fort Se­cu­ri­ties will be painfully aware how the nom­i­nee sys­tem can also prevent in­vestors from ac­cess­ing their shares in a timely fash­ion. ShareSoc aims to re­move this prob­lem so that in­di­vid­ual in­vestors can con­tinue to trade.

AD­DRESS­ING THE LACK OF IN­VESTOR ED­U­CA­TION

There is a sig­nif­i­cant ab­sence of in­vestor ed­u­ca­tion in this coun­try, which is at odds with the sig­nif­i­cance of the UK as a fi­nan­cial mar­ket.

To ad­dress this is­sue, ShareSoc has cre­ated a body of ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­rial which it refers to as its In­vestor Academy. This re­source is freely avail­able on the so­ci­ety’s web­site and com­prises a se­lec­tion of own con­tent, third-party ar­ti­cles, book lists, ed­u­ca­tional videos and we­b­casts. This rep­re­sents an es­sen­tial tool­kit for be­gin­ners and ex­pe­ri­enced in­vestors alike.

ShareSoc also runs Mas­ter­class events, show­cas­ing a mix of in­vest­ment ex­perts and pro­fes­sion­als, high­light­ing best prac­tice and iden­ti­fy­ing the usual pit­falls and myths.

NET­WORK­ING

ShareSoc is a one mem­ber, one vote com­pany in­cor­po­rated as a com­pany ‘lim­ited by guar­an­tee’ with not-for-profit ar­ti­cles. One of the strengths of be­ing a mem­ber-based or­gan­i­sa­tion is that it is easy for mem­bers to talk to, and learn from, each other. ShareSoc ac­tively pro­motes the ex­change of views be­tween mem­bers and fa­cil­i­tates this through its com­pany events, mas­ter­classes, blog and mem­ber fo­rum.

In­vest­ment should be en­joy­able as well as fi­nan­cially re­ward­ing, and the so­ci­ety ac­tively en­cour­ages com­mu­nity spirit and the shar­ing of knowl­edge to en­rich its mem­ber­ship ex­pe­ri­ence.

HELP­FUL AD­VICE

Some­times in­vestors just want in­for­ma­tion or clar­i­fi­ca­tion, which ShareSoc can pro­vide as one of the few in­de­pen­dent bod­ies that can give gen­eral ad­vice.

ShareSoc also of­fers as­sis­tance to share­hold­ers when in­vestee com­pa­nies get into dif­fi­cul­ties, mis­be­have or fail to act in share­hold­ers’ best in­ter­ests. It is only by join­ing to­gether that share­hold­ers can ef­fi­ciently ad­dress such matters.

MEM­BER­SHIP BEN­E­FITS

The so­ci­ety of­fers two tiers of mem­ber­ship - one of which is free.

Full mem­ber­ship costs just £45 per year. For that, mem­bers get a reg­u­lar news­let­ter packed with ex­clu­sive fea­tures and ar­ti­cles on in­vest­ing, in­clud­ing in­for­ma­tion on in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. ShareSoc has also ne­go­ti­ated dis­counts with many providers, in­clud­ing a 25% dis­count off Stock­o­pe­dia sub­scrip­tions.

Ad­di­tion­ally, ShareSoc or­gan­ises reg­u­lar meet­ings and sem­i­nars with pre­sen­ta­tions from en­gag­ing speak­ers and the op­por­tu­nity to meet man­agers of in­vestee com­pa­nies and to net­work with other in­vestors. Full mem­bers ben­e­fit from free, pri­or­ity, ac­cess to its sem­i­nars.

By join­ing ShareSoc to­day, in­vestors can en­hance their in­sight into the in­vest­ment world while en­joy­ing a vi­brant and valu­able way to ac­cess peer sup­port. Find de­tails of how to join here

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