Platform change triggers rush of shareholder voting

Platform change triggers rush of shareholder voting

The number of retail investors voting on shareholder resolutions soared in the first half of the year after a platform automatically ‘opted in’ investors.

Figures released this morning by DIY platform Interactive Investor showed the number of votes processed in the first six months of the year rose 48 per cent compared with the same period in 2021.

The platform said the rise in voting is due to its decision in November 2021 to opt in all customers to the voting and information service, and urged other investment platforms to “remove barriers and red tape”. 

However, the 133,997 votes made in that period represented just 16 per cent of all votes available, an increase from 11 per cent last year. 

Customers are able to opt-out if they do not wish to vote. 

Chief executive officer of Interactive Investor, Richard Wilson, said the removal of “unnecessary barries” can help “create change”.

“The proof is in the pudding,” he said. 

“Plenty of private investors want to vote, and they are growing in numbers.

“It’s early days and there’s more to do, but this data shows the potential that private investors can have to affect change, and it’s hugely encouraging.”

Large shareholders, such as pension funds, have historically used their clout as investors to bring about change in companies, often through shareholder resolutions.

This can include voting against director remuneration, or even director re-election.

In recent years this practice has become increasingly popular as a way to ensure companies are tackling issues such as climate change and governance in a manner suitable to investors.

Last year, Hilary Owens Gray, director of practical law at Thomson Reuters said: “Those who run the UK’s largest companies are finding themselves under increased scrutiny from investors. 

“Shareholders are becoming more vocal in making sure companies set sensible remuneration targets for directors and address how they are going to play their part in tackling climate change.”