Want a free sandwich? Here's how to vote

If you're a shareholder in Alliance Trust, make sure your voice is heard, says Merryn Somerset Webb. Here's what you need to do.


If you are a shareholder in Alliance Trust you will be wanting to vote at the forthcoming AGM. If you aren't sure why, you can read my latest post on the matter (for the record I think you should vote for the new directors, but that's up to you). But I'd also say that this particular vote is about more than just the troubles at Alliance Trust.

For years now, the level of retail shareholder engagement with the firms in which we invest has been falling. Now that we hold our shares in Sipps and Isas via the various cheap and efficient platforms in the market, we don't hold shares directly, so we don't get the information we used to about the various votes we can participate in. So we don't go to AGMs, and we don't vote.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Become a smarter, better informed investor with MoneyWeek.

This matters: if shareholders aren't keeping an eye on company management, who is? Alliance Trust is very heavily owned by small investors, many of whom have been invested for years (if not decades), and have an intense long-term interest in the firm's future. So it makes sense that everyone who can vote does vote. The question is how.

If you are a direct shareholder, this is pretty easy. You don't have to go to the meeting (although if I were you, I would it'll be fun and there will be sandwiches), and you should have had a form through by now which will allow you to vote on all the resolutions including the appointment of the new directors (not to go on... but I'd vote for them myself).

Advertisement - Article continues below

You need to return this to the registrars by 27 April. If you miss that date, you can skip the admin and just turn up with ID to vote on the day. If you don't hold the shares directly, but have them with the trust's subsidiary Alliance Trust Savings (ATS), voting is also pretty easy. Again you will have had a form in the post that allows you to vote on paper or to turn up on the day.

If, on the other hand, you hold the shares with another broker, it gets more complicated. You need to arrange it. That's because while you are the beneficial owner of the shares, your broker is the registered owner on your behalf and therefore holds your vote.

Most Hargreaves Lansdown, for example will now allow you to just call or email in details of how you want your vote cast if you aren't going to the AGM. But if you are going to the AGM (remember the sandwiches), you need to ask them to appoint you as a proxy.

They'll then issue you with a letter that will allow you to use your vote on the day. If you are taking this route, you will need to get on with it most brokers say they need to know by Thursday to get the admin done.

See you in Dundee




The power of mean reversion

When it comes to investing in funds, don’t chase the top performers – look for the cheapest ones.
1 Apr 2019

The most important number to look at before you buy any fund

Many investors get distracted by past performance when they buy a fund. But there’s something else to consider that will have a much bigger influence …
22 Mar 2019

Why investment trusts are the best vehicle for your money

Max King explains the advantages of investment trusts – sometimes called closed-ended funds – over their open-ended counterparts (or Oeics).
11 Feb 2020
Share tips

Asian income stocks: where to find the continent's top money machines

International dividends shouldn’t only mean companies in the US or Europe – the Far East has plenty of big payouts to offer. Cris Sholto Heaton looks …
6 Feb 2020

Most Popular


Here’s why the Federal Reserve might print more money before 2020 is out

The Federal Reserve wants to allow US inflation to run “hot” for a while. But that’s just an excuse to keep interest rates low – and possibly print mo…
10 Feb 2020
Investment strategy

The secret to avoiding being panicked out of your portfolio

With the coronavirus continuing to occupy headlines, investors still aren’t sure how to react. But the one thing you mustn’t do is panic. Tim Price ex…
11 Feb 2020

Money Minute Monday 10 February: lacklustre growth in the UK and Europe

Today's Money Minute looks ahead to the week's GDP growth estimates for the UK and the eurozone, plus inflation figures for the USA.
10 Feb 2020

Why investors shouldn’t overlook Europe

SPONSORED CONTENT - Ollie Beckett, manager of the TR European Growth Trust, tackles investor questions around Europe’s economic outlook and the conseq…
6 Nov 2019