The Law Commission is undertaking a review of Intermediated Securities. What’s this about and why is it important? It is important because the use of nominee accounts has undermined your rights as a shareholder in public companies.
Nominee accounts have made it difficult to vote your shares at General Meetings, taken away other rights, and defeated shareholder democracy. The inability of companies or anyone else to communicate with all shareholders has also made it exceedingly difficult to tackle management when they are paying themselves too much or are simply not acting in shareholders interests. Individual shareholders have been particularly damaged by the use of nominee accounts which have taken over from paper share certificates for most holdings.
Another issue is that an EU Directive will soon be mandating “dematerialisation” of share certificates. All trading will need to be done in electronic form which implies nominee accounts only unless you happen to have a Personal Crest account (of which there are only 5,000 now) or unless a new “name on register” electronic account is devised.
ShareSoc has issued some information on the Law Commission public consultation on Intermediated Securities which you can read here: https://www.sharesoc.org/sharesoc-news/law-commission-review-of-intermediated-securities-consultation/
IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT THAT AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE RESPOND TO THIS CONSULTATION SO PLEASE DO SO!
You can read my personal submission to this consultation here: https://www.roliscon.com/Intermediated-Securities-Consultation.pdf
One interesting point made in the Commissions consultation document is that it says “intermediaries are obliged to offer investors the option of a segregated account” – see page 8. This is now EU law and I understand it is effective in the UK. That means that all ISA and SIPP holders should be offered the option of a segregated, i.e. designated, account where your name and address are held on the share register and not just the nominee operator’s. Such accounts are much better than “pooled” nominee accounts which almost all brokers use at present and which are positively dangerous as your assets are not separately identified. That means that when your broker goes bust there is frequently a shortfall and recovery of your assets in full is not easy. I am looking into whether my ISA and SIPP operators actually are compliant with the EU legislation and do offer designated accounts. I will advise later on the answer.
However a designated nominee account is still not the ideal solution – all shareholders need to be on the share register of a company, which is what my consultation submission says.
PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU SUPPORT SHARESOC AND RESPOND TO THE LAW COMMISSION’S CALL FOR EVIDENCE
Roger Lawson (Twitter: https://twitter.com/RogerWLawson )
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