interactive investor wins AIC Shareholder Engagement Award for the second year running

Judged by the lang cat.

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The Association of Investment Companies (AIC) has announced that interactive investor has won its Shareholder Engagement Award 2022.

The AIC’s Shareholder Engagement Award was launched to recognise the work that investment platforms do to help shareholders engage with the investment companies they own and allow them to exercise their rights.

This includes facilitating shareholder voting and attendance at annual general meetings (AGMs), allowing investors to participate in corporate actions, providing ready access to relevant documents and data, and educating customers who hold investment companies about their rights as shareholders.

The award, which was launched last year, was again judged by platform specialists, the lang cat.

The winner

interactive investor (ii) impressed the judges for its deep commitment to shareholder engagement. The platform’s award submission “went above and beyond what we saw last year”, the judges noted, with the most impactful change being switching all its customers to an opt-out process for voting and AGM notifications. This means that customers are now automatically registered to vote and receive notifications when they invest in an investment company. Following this change, votes processed on the ii platform increased 48% in H1 2022 (compared to H1 2021) to 133,997 votes.

Other initiatives included a letter to the Treasury advocating “plain-English” AGM notifications, educational materials and promotion about the importance of voting, and committing greater resource to engagement with the wider investment company industry, including speaking at conferences and hosting an ii webinar on shareholder power.

Other entrants

Fidelity Personal Investing and AJ Bell also entered the award. Fidelity won praise for its well thought-out voting notifications and detailed and accessible information on investment companies, while AJ Bell remains a “top player” in shareholder engagement, with clear notifications and a straightforward online voting process.

The judges also suggested some general areas for improvement:

  • Moving from an ‘opt-in’ to an ‘opt-out’ process for shareholder voting and notifications
  • Fostering a collective sense of responsibility with the wider investment company sector – such as conferences, seminars and engagement with the press
  • Further improvement on data disclosure and transparency

Annabel Brodie-Smith, Communications Director of the Association of Investment Companies (AIC), said: “Being able to vote your shares, attend meetings and take part in corporate actions are some of the key benefits of investing in an investment company, but not all investors who hold their shares through platforms realise how to exercise these rights. The AIC’s Shareholder Engagement Award recognises the work that investment platforms do to facilitate and encourage shareholder engagement with investment companies. We’d like to congratulate all those who entered for their progress in this important area.”

Richard Wilson, CEO of interactive investor, said: “Private investors can have a powerful collective influence over a company’s conduct and future direction through their vote, should they wish to use it. We have seen meaningful progress in the numbers of customers voting and attending AGMs this year, showing that when barriers and red tape are removed, positive change can start to happen. We know we have more to do.

“We also hope that even more powerful change is coming from the wider industry: everyone deserves to be given the tools to make their voices heard by UK plc. We’d like to thank the AIC and the lang cat for raising the profile of shareholder democracy on investment platforms. We are thrilled to have won this award.”

Liz Evans, Analyst at the lang cat, said: “As we saw last year, our entrants demonstrated great capability in this area with this year’s winners in particular not resting on their laurels following their win last year. interactive investor is certainly best in class, going above and beyond other entrants with their industry engagement, government lobbying and continuous engagement and education work, making them rightful winners.

“With the recommendations we have made to participants this year and the commitments highlighted from entrants, we are hopeful that we will see more providers joining the ‘opt-out’ process in the next year. This will further steer the way for shareholders’ rights, making the process as simple as possible whilst knocking down the barriers to shareholder voting along the way.”

Judging criteria

The award was open to direct-to-consumer (D2C) investment platforms. The judging focused on four areas:

  • Shareholder voting. How well does the platform facilitate shareholder voting?
  • AGM participation. How well does the platform facilitate participation in annual general meetings (AGMs) for shareholders of investment companies?
  • Corporate actions. How efficiently and effectively does the platform notify shareholders about corporate actions, and enable them to respond where necessary?
  • Documents and data. How well do platforms display investment company documents (such as annual reports) and data?

The award will be presented at an AIC dinner tonight.

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Notes to editors

  1. The Association of Investment Companies (AIC) was founded in 1932 to represent the interests of the investment trust industry – the oldest form of collective investment. Today, the AIC represents a broad range of closed-ended investment companies, incorporating investment trusts and other closed-ended investment companies and VCTs. The AIC’s members believe that the industry is best served if it is united and speaks with one voice. The AIC’s vision is for closed-ended investment companies to be considered by every investor. The AIC has 357 members and the industry has total assets of approximately £269 billion.
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