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The UK Shareholders' Association



An introduction

We are grateful to Eric Chalker of the UK Shareholders’ Association (UKSA) for this article introducing UKSA.  After reading this article, please take a look at the UKSA website (link below). Their events page looks particularly interesting.


Investing in shares is an individual activity but individuals who invest in shares also need to combine to ensure their interests are not swamped by those whose interests are often quite different.  Institutional investors, such as pension funds, might be thought to have the same interests but their funds are often in the hands of external managers and stock brokers, who may be more interested in the fees they earn than in the companies whose shares they hold.


The cards seem increasingly to be stacked against private shareholders.  This process is one of the reasons why the UK Shareholders’ Association (UKSA) exists and needs as many private investors as possible to join it.  The bigger UKSA’s membership, the stronger its voice  when its representatives speak to company directors, bodies such as the FSA and the Financial Reporting Council, as well as to politicians.  To strengthen its position, UKSA has published its Claim for Private Shareholders’ Rights, in the form of a manifesto.


From time to time, those who hold shares in a company will wish to combine in order to strengthen their ability to seek greater accountability from its directors or an external body such as the government.  UKSA maintains an office with experienced staff to facilitate this. 


UKSA also arranges, in all its active regions, a programme of analyst-style meetings with company directors.  Many members see this as a key benefit of membership obtainable in no other way.  These events are listed in its monthly magazine, The Private Investor, which contains news of UKSA’s activities nationally plus informative and stimulating articles and letters from members.  There is something in UKSA for all investors, experienced and inexperienced: all are welcome.  Each region has its own officers and committee to organise events and ensure that members’ views in the area are taken into account nationally. 




cards seem ..

stacked against

private shareholders




 a key benefit of membership



While UKSA’s directors see themselves, of course, as principally answerable to UKSA’s own members, the ethos of UKSA has always been to look outwards, for the interests of all private investors and even all savers generally.  This is why the manifesto was drawn up. Published on the first working day of this general election year, it has already received much acclaim from journalists writing for private investors, as has the accompanying booklet, Responsible Investing – for the Individual and for Society

The manifesto lists 12 objectives in three sections – one relating to companies and directors, one for the regulators and one for the politicians.  Deliberately in the style of the Combined Code, the manifesto introduces the objectives with statements of main and supporting principles.  The objectives may be refined or revised from time to time (and have yet to be formally adopted by UKSA’s members in general meeting), but the principles are likely to stand the test of time. 

UKSA’s task now is to persuade directors, regulators and legislators to respond to the case it has put forward for radically improving – some might say, restoring – the position of the private investor.  Among the objectives UKSA regards as most important are these two: the enfranchisement of nominee account users and the establishment of private shareholders’ committees.

Nominee Account Issues

The current disenfranchisement of nominee account users, despite government insistence on this means of holding shares in an ISA or SIPP, is a scandal, especially as it should really be seen as an invented problem.  Private shareholders in the USA and elsewhere have no difficulty exercising ownership rights, but in the UK they are literally dispossessed: nominee account users are not the legal owners of shares, only their beneficial owners.  They have no right to vote, no right to anything, not even the right to participate in determining the outcome of a takeover of their shares through a scheme of arrangement (the increasingly prevalent method because it avoids stamp duty).


None of the governance issues which have so occupied many commentators, including City Minister Lord Myners and Sir David Walker in his recent report on the banks, can be resolved until the investment interests of private shareholders are allowed to play their full part.


This is why UKSA’s other priority is the establishment of private shareholders’ committees.  This is not a new concept, even in the UK, but here it is almost invisible in practice.  UKSA would like to see it made compulsory but, until then, for listed companies to introduce them on a voluntary basis.  The idea is set out in some detail in the booklet referred to above and UKSA has no doubt at all that it can be made to work.  The committees are intended to be representative bodies with influence, working with their individual boards to improve board consideration of, and responsiveness to, the wishes of those who hold shares personally, not just to the institutional and short term shareholders as is far too much the case at present.






principles likely to stand

the test of time

The UK Shareholders’ Association is the leading organisation in the country representing private shareholders. More information on UKSA and how to join can be found at




Written by Eric Chalker, Director, UK Shareholders’ Association

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