Date: 22nd April 2022
Author: BETTER FINANCE

It's all about retail shareholder democracy in Europe!


Did you try to vote (or did you successfully vote) at Shareholders Meetings of EU Companies in 2022?

If not, there is still time, AGMs of companies are still ongoing.

• Let us know your experience: Survey Open, until 10 September 2022!

Shareholders are the true owners of the companies in which they have invested.

This ownership comes with a voting right – also for individual ('retail') shareholders – and can influence a company’s actions, or even address its environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives.

— Your voting right can have an impact! See what happened in the US Exxon case!


Survey on Shareholder Engagement across the EU.

This “Mystery Shopping” exercise aims to identify the variety of obstacles a shareholder may face in attending Shareholder meetings (Annual General Meetings/AGMs) across the EU.

If you own shares of a company from an EU country other than your home state (or bank/broker location), we invite you to (try to) vote at AGMs, and then to answer our survey.

Click on the image to complete this survey.

All investors in listed stocks across the EU can document their voting experience at AGMs. BETTER FINANCE is determined to defend all shareholders’ rights across the EU.

How to participate? Steps

1. You must own (or buy) shares of companies that are based in a different EU country than your depositary bank or broker.

2. You should at least try to vote at AGMs: contact your bank or broker, using your listed EU shares, from a company located in a different EU country than yours (or than your broker).

We encourage you to use the shares you already have in your (personal) portfolio to provide feedback on your experience (Was it easy? How about the process, were you required to pay fees?)

Example:

• Your bank/broker is located in Spain and you own shares in a listed German company => try to vote at its AGM in 2022!
Note: AGM dates are available on each company’s website – look for the “investors relation” webpage of any listed company.
• Simply contact your bank or broker to get more information on the voting procedure. They must assist you to exercise your voting right.

3. Document your experience: Answer the Survey!

Key terms used in the survey:
A Company is the “issuer” of a share, listed in the stock market.
*ADMISSION CARD/“Share-ownership certificate”: Evidence of your shareholder status; enables the shareholder to attend an AGM. It is issued by the company, but the bank/broker can serve as the intermediary when you request it.
**VOTING CARD: Enables the shareholder to vote at (or before) the general meeting. It is also issued by the company (the registration procedure is done via the AGM website, or through your bank/broker’s intermediary).

— Need assistance? Feel free to contact our officer, Martin Molko at molko@betterfinance.eu

 


 

Why this survey? Background

The Shareholder Rights Directive II (SRD II) came into force in September 2020, and was supposed to grant more rights to shareholders across Europe, including making their cross-border engagement to vote at AGMs of EU companies easier.
Did you know?
— Shareholders must be automatically notified of the date of the AGM of the company in which they hold shares, regardless of where in the EU the company is located.
— The exercise of shareholder rights, such as attending annual shareholder meetings in another EU Member State, should then be facilitated

Those are examples of improvements to the exercise of shareholders’ rights that “SRD II” should have brought.

Unfortunately, it seems that shareholders are often not properly informed of AGMs abroad, or encounter obstacles when trying to exercise their rights at general meetings across the EU (such as a lack of information, high costs required by intermediaries, unavailability of the voting service, deadlines, etc.).

Previous DSW and BETTER FINANCE Research on SRD II (2021) provided hard evidence to the European Commission of current impediments to EU cross-border voting in the EU, and thus, on the partial implementation of the Shareholder Rights Directive and its shortcomings. Lack of information, procedures, and fees to exercise the vote at foreign AGMs in Europe were identified as barriers.

Your participation will help BETTER FINANCE to influence EU policy and improve the SRD II accordingly, and therefore enhance the voting rights of European shareholders!