Shareholders and the Right to Vote

Shareholders don't know a lot about their rights and responsibilities. Unless they've got a lot of interest in their shares, they are not going to read the various Laws where shareholder rights are enshrined.

Most shareholders consider themselves to be sophisticated investors; yet, they're not that much better off than the vast untutored public-at-large.

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Knowing about the company you have shares in and making its board accountable to you as a shareholder will maximise your investment returns.

Sounds eminently fair and reasonable -- but how do you do this?

Owning stock gives you the right to vote on important company issues and policies.

As a stockholder, you have the right to vote on major policy decisions, such as whether to issue additional stock, sell the company to outside buyers, or change the board of directors.

Voting is the best way to let a company know you disapprove or not of their management practices.

Shareholders will be asked to vote for each resolution put to a company at the annual general meeting or an extraordinary meeting (a one-off meeting called to specifically resolve an issue).

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You can either vote on the day in person, or send a proxy (someone you appoint to vote on your behalf).

In general, the more stock you own, the greater your voice in company decisions.

Although the votes of small, independent investors may not be able to directly affect corporate policy, it can force companies to divulge information about their business practices.

Similarly, institutional investors who own large blocks of stock are increasingly demanding a say in corporate affairs.

For example, they may express concern about how effectively the board of directors sets policy and oversees the performance of the company's executives.

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