Conditions are ripe for an ESG retail shareholder spring

by Myron Jobson from interactive investor |

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This AGM season, we are calling on private investors to make their voices heard.

With a number of major environmental, social and governance (ESG) votes coming up this AGM season, interactive investor calls on private investors to make their voices heard.

Last week, several City giants chose to opt out of the hotly anticipated Deliveroo IPO. Fund heavyweights such as Aviva (LSE:AV.) and Aberdeen Standard cited ESG concerns related to the company’s treatment of its employees.

After a year that has seen record numbers of new investors start to take control for their financial future, interactive investor is calling on retail shareholders to use the power of voting their shares, too.

Richard Wilson, CEO of interactive investor, said: “More private investors are realising they have strength in numbers and can effect change through voting their shares. The platform industry must do more to help its customers find their voice and offer support on the issues that customers care about, such as ESG. We’re not talking about ‘barbarians in the boardroom’; these are everyday small shareholders who want to make sure management are acting in line with their purpose and values.”

Lee Wild, Head of Equity Strategy, interactive investor, says: “Leading companies in the so-called gig economy have also come under pressure to change their ways, especially around contracts and pay. And there has been positive progress. Uber (NYSE:UBER) must now treat its drivers as workers rather than independent contractors after losing a five-year legal battle. Deliveroo – about to become the UK’s largest IPO for years – is being urged to do the same just as its riders threaten strikes to improve workers’ rights and pay. Its stock market flotation will give Deliveroo’s army of new shareholders a great opportunity to make their own protest to management.”

Company Date Issue
Rio Tinto (LSE:RIO) 9 April Disclosures around greenhouse gas emissions and aligning trade body membership with the Paris Agreement
Unilever (LSE:ULVR) 5 May Net zero pledge
Aviva (LSE:AV.) 6 May Net zero pledge
BP (LSE:BP.) 26 May To bring decarbonisation plans closer in line with the Paris Agreement

At interactive investor, once a customer has switched on their voting preferences in their account, they will automatically receive updates on decisions that affect the shares they own. Ahead of AGMs, they will be emailed about all supported shareholder meetings when they are uploaded to the Voting & Information portal.

ii has also recently enhanced its shareholder voting and information page.

Last year, the most voted shares on the interactive investor platform, in rank order, were: Unilever (LSE:ULVR), Sirius Minerals, Lloyds Banking Group (LSE:LLOY), BP (LSE:BP.), Vodafone (LSE:VOD), Royal Dutch Shell (LSE:RDSB), Scottish Mortgage (LSE:SMT), GlaxoSmithKline (LSE:GSK), Rolls-Royce (LSE:RR.), Royal Mail (LSE:RMG).

A January poll by interactive investor of 2,347 website visitors found that 60% of investors say the ‘E’ (for environmental) in ESG is most important to them when making investment decisions.

In all, 43% of respondents said they factor in ESG criteria in their investment decisions.

These articles are provided for information purposes only.  Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties.  The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company's or index name highlighted in the article.

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