Nick Train investment trust among top for retail shareholder voting

by Myron Jobson from interactive investor |

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Tesco is most-voted share on ii in the first quarter, but figures expose age gap in investor engagement.

Older investors are almost twice as likely to register to vote for company AGMs than younger investors on the interactive investor platform, according to Q1 2021 data from interactive investor.

Over a quarter (26%) of accounts of those over the age of 65 have signed up for ii’s free shareholder voting service, compared to just 15% of those aged between 18 and 34, well below the average of 25% of customer accounts overall.

The age disparity comes despite a surge in the number of younger investors on ii’s platform in recent times, as the pandemic left many with more time on their hands and spare cash. ii’s data suggests this newfound interest in the stock market has not yet translated into greater engagement with one of UK plc’s greatest institutions – shareholder democracy.

Of customer accounts registered to vote in Q1, 14% voted.

Tesco (LSE:TSCO) was the most-voted share by ii’s customers in Q1 this year, with popular investment trusts Finsbury Growth & Income (LSE:FGT), The Renewables Infrastructure Group (LSE:TRIG), and Personal Assets (LSE:PNL) trust, also in the quarter’s top five.

Richard Wilson, CEO of interactive investor, said: “Over the past year, we have seen more young people taking control of their financial future by investing and I would encourage these new investors to harness their collective power through voting. There is no obligation to vote, but it is important to give yourself that option.  

“We compare positively to our peers in helping customers to vote on their shareholdings, but accept that our past approach to this has been too pedestrian.

“This year we are not only making sure our customers know they can vote, and how to do it, but also educating them about the issues on the table.”

Lee Wild, Head of Equity Strategy, interactive investor, says: “It’s great to see ii customers engaging with the companies they own a part of. It was no surprise to see Tesco’s £5 billion special dividend waved through in February, and for the £7.2 billion acquisition of RSA Insurance Group (LSE:RSA) by Canada’s Intact (TSE:IFC) and Tryg of Denmark to get the thumbs up.

“But AGMs are not always a smooth ride for company boards, as was the case at both Marston's (LSE:MARS) and Mitchells & Butlers (LSE:MAB) after a year the pub trade – and its shareholders – will want to forget. M&B’s pay plan for execs was rejected by 17.5% of shareholders, and it was clear what they thought about several board members, too. Over 28% voted against the re-election of non-executive director Eddie Irwin - who reached the maximum nine-year tenure recommended in the UK Corporate Governance Code - and 25% against chairman Bob Ivell. Pay was the big issue at Marston’s where almost 14% voted against the annual report on remuneration.

“AGMs are a great opportunity to question the leadership, so few miss the chance to grill Finsbury Growth & Income Trust’s star manager Nick Train. But shareholders continue to put their faith in Train and his team, using this year’s virtual event to back an amendment to the company’s investment policy. The trust never invests more than 15% of its assets in one company at the time of acquisition anyway, but this restriction is now written in stone. 

“Every now and then a meeting generates real emotion, and this was the case at AIM-listed Remote Monitored Systems (LSE:RMS). A delay in its new anti-viral mask production line triggered a £5 million fundraising, but the inclusion of 420 million warrants raised concerns around potential dilution at the £37 million company. Social media comments made by a major shareholder and consultant academic at Nottingham Trent University, added a bit of theatre. All resolutions, including those linked to the warrants, were defeated. And shareholder power also won a commitment from the board to improve shareholder communication, with the appointment of a specialist investor relations advisor and a new dedicated email address for shareholders to ask questions.”

Once an interactive investor 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.

Age band % with ii voting service activated
18 - 24 16%
25 - 34 14%
35 - 44 16%
45 - 54 20%
55 - 64 24%
65+ 26%

Most voted shares on ii platform in Q1 2021

Stock  
1 Tesco (LSE:TSCO)
2 Finsbury Growth & Income (LSE:FGT)
3 The Renewables Infrastructure Group (LSE:TRIG)
4 Personal Assets (LSE:PNL)
5 RSA Insurance Group (LSE:RSA)
6 Remote Monitored Systems (LSE:RMS)
7 Mitchells & Butlers (LSE:MAB)
8 Imperial Brands (LSE:IMB)
9 Worldwide Healthcare (LSE:WWH)
10 Marston's (LSE:MARS)

ii recently enhanced its shareholder voting and information page.

In 2020, the most-voted shares on the interactive investor platform, in rank order, were: Unilever (LSE:ULVR), Sirius Minerals, Lloyds (LSE:LLOY), BP (LSE:BP.), Vodafone (LSE:VOD), Royal Dutch Shell (LSE:RDSB), Scottish Mortgage (LSE:SMT), GlaxoSmithKline (LSE:GSK), Rolls-Royce (LSE:RR.), and Royal Mail (LSE:RMG).

In January, a 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. Of that same cohort, 43% of respondents said they factor in ESG criteria in their investment decisions.

Upcoming AGMs

The London Stock Exchange Group (LSE:LSEG)’s AGM is on 28 April: https://www.lseg.com/investor-relations/shareholder-services/agm-information

Glencore (LSE:GLEN) is 29 April: https://www.glencore.com/investors/shareholder-centre/agm

British American Tobacco (LSE:BATS) is 28 April: https://www.bat.com/agm

The Lloyds (LSE:LLOY) AGM is due to be held at the company's Edinburgh offices on 20 May, but, with Covid-19 restrictions still in place, for the first time the company is also holding a virtual shareholder engagement event the week before. NatWest (LSE:NWG) did the same a week before its AGM on 28 April.

Other AGM dates coming up by FTSE 100 companies are Aviva (LSE:AV.) (6 May), Admiral (LSE:ADM) (30 April), Pearson (30 April), HSBC (LSE:HSBA) (28 May) and Unilever (LSE:ULVR) (5 May). In the FTSE 250, upcoming AGMs include ITV (LSE:ITV) (29 April), Travis Perkins (LSE:TPK) (27 April), Plus500 (LSE:PLUS) (4 May).

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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