This is a guest post by ShareSoc. I’ve recently joined ShareSoc as a fully paid up member to get a better insight into corporate governance and other issues which affect individual shareholders (and perhaps go on the occasional ski trip too). It provides a very useful service for those who really want to get involved with the companies they invest in, so please read on for more information.
Who represents the interests of individual shareholders (i.e. private investors rather than institutions) in the UK? The leading organisation that does just that is ShareSoc, a.k.a. the UK Individual Shareholders Society, a not-for-profit organisation controlled by its members.
So if you want to see some changes in the landscape of Government stock market regulation or taxation, they are a body worth supporting. For example, they would like nominee accounts reformed so as to improve shareholder voting and “engagement”, some reforms to director remuneration, and private investors being put on a level playing field rather than being treated as second class citizens in terms of information provision by companies.
There are millions of private shareholders in the UK. But historically they have had little influence. Only recently has ShareSoc started to adequately represent them while other similar organisations across Europe are much larger in size with tens of thousands of members. ShareSoc has reached 2,500 members after only 24 months of operation, but still needs to recruit many more people if it is to be truly representative. Private shareholders do need an active body to campaign for the rights of shareholders and to represent their views forcefully to companies, to the Government, and to other institutions.
ShareSoc’s main objectives are to improve the investment performance of members, to increase their wealth, to promote financial education at all levels, to provide a good communications facility for investors and to ensure good corporate governance in companies. ShareSoc does report on companies, particularly those where problems have arisen, and they also support shareholder action groups where appropriate.
The Chairman of ShareSoc, Roger Lawson, had this to say recently: “It is clear from recent proposals to scrap the printing of Annual Reports by the FRC, to ban all “execution only” trading by the European Commission and to only permit VCT and EIS funds to be sold to “sophisticated investors” that we are still seeing ridiculous proposals being put forward by public bodies. They have little understanding of what individual shareholders want and constantly bow to the prejudices of institutional investors and the interests of other stakeholders in financial markets”.
ShareSoc provides lots of educational material on its web site and in an informative monthly newsletter plus networking opportunities and general advice.
Associate Membership of ShareSoc is free and is open to everyone with an interest in stock market investment. Go to www.sharesoc.org for more information. It’s certainly worth looking at what they do for private investors.