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Transparency Times features Northern Rock

The latest edition of the Transparency Times carries a story on Northern Rock and Dennis Grainger, Chairman of the Shareholders' Action Group.

The article can be found on pages 15 onwards by clicking this link: https://issuu.com/andyagathangelou/docs/transparency_times_november?e=24856696/55582043

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Persimmon pay: UKSA saw it coming

UKSA identified the Persimmon LTIP as outrageous when it was first approved in 2012. This is more than a single-company story. It also shows what groups of individual shareholders could contribute to corporate governance were they not emasculated by the erosion of their rights in favour of conflicted institutional and corporate interests. Join UKSAcolor> to support the campaign against egregious LTIPs.

The story of the Persimmon LTIP illustrates fundamental flaws in the governance, measurement and reporting of executive pay that were as obvious in 2012 as they are today, and which the recent changes in the regulations conspicuously failed to address.

UKSA first campaigned against the Persimmon LTIP after its launch in October 2012color>
Members of UKSA analysed the Plan and released its findings to members in December 2012color>
..... and publicly in January 2013color>. Estimated value £300million.
We called for rejection of the remuneration report in April 2013color>, and released details of our exchanges with the Chairman, Nicholas Wrigley, and institutional shareholders.
We updated our findings a year later in March 2014color>. Estimated value £400million.
.....and again in March 2016color>. Estimated value £600million.
......and June 2016color>

And now estimates of £750million have been published

This sorry tale reveals a whole bagful of governance weaknesses crying out for action:-
- The full value and its implications have never been acknowledged by the company (which resisted UKSA’s attempt to seek transparency).
- Poor stewardship by the company’s fund management shareholders failed to curb this hugely excessive transfer of value from their investors to the company’s managers.
- Poorly-worded remuneration reporting regulations (against which UKSA has protested) have allowed this to go unnoticed.
- It’s hard to see how financial statements that ignore this transfer of value, equal to a full year’s net profit, can be said to present a ‘true and fair view’ as stated by the directors in their recent announcements of results.
- It’s hard to see how accounting standards that allow this transfer of value to be ignored can be fit for purpose in this respect

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Tata Steel pensions scandal brewing – advice system still open to corruption

As reported in today’s Financial Times (2 December 2017) an advice scandal is brewing around the Tata Steel pension fund. Some advice firms have capitalised on pensioners’ ignorance by advising transfer into high risk funds with transparently unsuitable investment profiles, undeclared fees and undeclared conflicts of interest.

UKSA welcomes the new focus by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on individual outcomes. The intention to make consumers more responsible for their financial decisions is an admirable one. But the FCA’s recent consumer survey makes clear the enormous gaps in knowledge and understanding to be closed before that responsibility can be universally undertaken.

The FCA’s own advice regulations, well-meaning though they are, are cutting off pensioners from a valuable unused resource, and that is the financially-competent staff within the pension fund and the sponsor company itself. It very rarely makes sense to transfer benefit rights from a well-managed fund to a third-party provider and a simple high-level review of ‘advice’ to do so would quickly identify the more egregious cases. This review would be all the more effective for being carried out by those with the habit of care arising from a good employer/employee relationship.

Exposure of the activities of a professional class – in this case IFAs – to robust review by those outside that class is much more effective than regulation for maintaining standards. Perhaps it’s time to apply this principle to fund managers in their role as responsible shareholders on behalf of their customers?

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UKSA signs paper expressing concerns and reservations about the funding and staffing of the FRC

UKSA is keen to build a good relationship with the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and contribute fully to the work that it does. We believe that this is best done by developing a relationship which is based on objectivity and constructive feedback - in both directions. Sometimes that feedback is critical.

UKSA was a signatory to a recent position paper drafted by Natasha Landell-Mills at Sarasin and Partners. The paper can be read by clicking href="http://www.uksa.org.uk/sites/default/files/position-paper---investors-require-a-robustly-independent-audit-regulator-oct-2017.pdf" target ="blank"> here
expresses the concerns and reservations that we have about the funding and staffing of the FRC and the scope that this creates for 'regulatory capture'. To complete the picture the following link https://frc.org.uk/news/october-2017/speech-by-stephen-haddrill-audit-since-the-finan will take members to the FRC's website where they can read the transcript of a speech made by Stephen Haddrill (CEO of the FRC) on 25th October. One would like to think that the tone and some of the contents of this speech reflect the way in which UKSA and other investors are seeking to hold the FRC to account.

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"Lifting the lid" on the FRC - UKSA members will be attending a private meeting with the FRC on Tuesday 21st November 2017

Who audits the auditors? The Financial Reporting Council is the organisation responsible for overseeing the quality of audit work carried out by auditor. As such it plays a crucial role in helping to protect your wealth. This is a unique opportunity for members only for a direct dialogue with the FRC. The FRC, for their part, are keen to hear the views of serious individual investors.

This event will be of interest to all active investors, not just retired accountants and actuaries. It will give you the chance to give your views on areas where change is needed and to interact with senior members of the FRC. It will be led by Tracy Vegro, Executive Director of Strategy at the FRC. Topics to be covered include:

• The structure and remit of the FRC;
• Improving standards of corporate reporting for investors;
• Maintaining audit standards – audit reviews, standards setting and enforcement;
• Stewardship and governance - holding directors, companies and auditors to account;
• Changes and trends in auditing.

The detailed agenda can be found by clicking here

This event "Lifting the lid" on the FRC – An Event for Retail Shareholders is for UKSA/ShareSoc members and will be held on 21st Nov 2017, 2pm - 5pm at the FRC office, 125 London Wall, London.

To register and reserve your place at the event please email the office via officeatuksa@gmail.com

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Dennis Grainger leads a Northern Rock campaign delegation to the Prime Minister in Downing Street

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Dennis Grainger and Action Group colleagues have been heavily engaged in media interviews to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the ‘run', culminating in the hand delivery of a letter to the Prime Minister in Downing Street. The letter can be read by clicking here.color> The above picture (Left to right, Bill Penman-Brown, Celia Elliott, Pradeep Chand, Maxine Grainger, Marilyn Sterry, Dennis Grainger), shows the projected net surplus of £ 9.6 Billion George Osborne predicted from the acquisition of Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley.

ITNPHOTO.jpg

Dennis said he and five other shareholders (Left to right, Maxine Grainger, Pradeep Chand, Bill Penman-Brown, Dennis Grainger, Celia Elliott, Marilyn Sterry), supported by Brian Peart and Rob MacDonald, presented a lettercolor> to the PM's office at No 10 at 2pm on 14th September, together with a basic 'summarycolor>' of the case. This was reported on ITN news and can be viewed by clicking on this linkcolor>

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UKSA calls for radical long-term rethink of wealth creation process

UKSA calls for independent thinkers to join us to change for the better the savings investment chain.

This may take a generation - too many vested interests, contributing too much in tax revenues, will make it so – but is vital to the long-term economic health and social cohesion of the UK.

The government’s tepid response to its own initiative for corporate governance reform – fundamental to removing the runaway train of executive remuneration and the stranglehold of short-term thinking on corporate strategy – indicates that there will be no effective change without new energy.

The essence of this new approach is that savers themselves must take control of the investment chain. It carries the banner Savers Take Control. Martin White, UKSA Director, laid out the issues in September 2017 at a symposium of the Transparency Task Force. His presentation is here.

Martin will be leading this initiative for UKSA. If you want to contribute to the future of saving, e-mail STC@uksa.org.uk

Update July 2018: Further links have been added enabling visitors to view the PowerPoint or download the full presentation.

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Dennis Grainger update on Northern Rock Small Shareholder Compensation Fight

I wanted to give you a brief update as to how the campaign for compensation is going (yes, it still is going!).

As some of you will know I have been on the committee and involved in the fight since the shares were taken from us in March 2008, and acted as the lead-plaintiff for us in the Court hearings, one at the Judicial Review, one at the Appeal Court (both disappointing to say the least) and, of course - the most disappointing of all - the rejection of our case as ‘inadmissible’ by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Nevertheless, with a committee although now much reduced in numbers, but not in quality, we soldier-on still to try and achieve what we all know to be just, a fair compensation for our losses.

My colleagues on the committee are:-
Pradeep Chand – retired Group Finance Director with multi sector experience in large global enterprises.
Bill Penman Brown – lifetime career at the highest level in International banking, broadcaster and author (may I very strongly recommend to you his book “The Decline and Fall of Banking”, especially the N Rock chapters).
Brian Peart – Industrialist. 5yrs. on the main Board of UKSA, and 20 years as President of the NE Region of UKSA.

May I also just pay tribute to all those volunteers who served on this committee over the last 10 years, working hard to try to get justice for us all; may I mention and thank on your behalf Chris Hulme, our previous Chairman.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________

I know from talking to so many shareholders that a lot of people have more or less given up the fight, and that is entirely understandable, given the long period involved. Heads naturally dropped when the EctHR ruling was announced, but life continues and as we now can see all too clearly the proof that the Government (via NRAM) stands to pocket a huge profit from their handling of the Rock – at our expense – as we always said was the case.

Something approaching £9Bn profit – after the Rock repaid all loans with penal interest – now accruing to HMG to us constitutes “undue enrichment”.

It is for us surely absolutely fair that some of that huge profit should be returned to the owners – who, after all, owned the assets which created it (“embedded value of the company”) but had them forcibly removed for NIL – whilst other bank shareholders were treated so differently.

We are close to finalising our submission to Government for a review of the handling, how we lost out, and how we feel it would be fully justified for us to now be treated fairly and compensated.

I will update this site with more news when I have it.

However, in the meantime, please be assured we have NOT given up the struggle, and will fight on for justice – however long it takes.
Thank you,
Dennis Grainger
Chairman of (UKSA) NRock Small Shareholders sub-committee

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Shareholder wins two-year fight to avoid £25,000 indemnity charges for lost share certificate

A shareholder has won a battle to avoid an attempted charge of £25,000 by Capita Registrars to indemnify against the consequences of a lost share certificate.

The certificate had been mailed to Capita so that a small part-sale could be made, the balance certificate had been returned by regular mail and had been lost.

Charging for unnecessary indemnities is a standard piece of gouging by registrars that would be treated as a scandal on the level of PPI if it was better known. A survey of UKSA members revealed a number of examples. Such certificates are no longer legal proof of ownership and if fraudulently presented as such would be exposed by the electronic ownership records which the registrar operates.

In this case the Small Claims Court found for the claimant, citing negligence by the registrar. We applaud.

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John Hunter, our Chairman, is enormously appreciative of the result of the informal donations appeal

John reports that the informal donations appeal has so far yielded over £1,500. Our thanks to you all. Substantial individual donations are welcome, of course, but equal leverage comes from small amounts spread among large numbers of members. Donations can still be made by credit card or PayPal by clicking on this link.

Just 100 extra members appreciative of what UKSA does, contributing £25 each, would provide another… you do the maths

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