Hargreaves Lansdown becomes latest DIY investing platform to launch online share voting service

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  • Investors can vote through the HL website – this is not available through the app.
  • HL customers can vote for their shares in the UK and Europe, but not for shares in the US.
  • Read our review of the best DIY investment platforms

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Millions more individual investors holding assets in DIY investment giant Hargreaves Lansdown will be able to more easily vote and participate in annual general meetings.

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Hargreaves Lansdown has partnered with Broadridge to bring online proxy voting to its 1.75 million customers as investors increasingly demand voting rights on ESG, executive pay and more.

While HL has always offered a voting service, until now, customers have had to manually determine the appropriate shareholder meetings and then call HL to submit their instructions for manual processing.

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The new online service, which follows similar steps from competing platforms eToro, AJ Bell and Interactive Investor, makes the process easier and faster, Hargreaves Lansdowne said.

The service covers 5,800 tradable shares – all UK and European shares on the HL platform.

Since November 2021, Interactive Investor has made it possible for all of its clients to vote at general shareholder meetings as a default setting.

Tom Lee, head of offerings at HL, said: “Retail investors are showing more interest in being able to influence corporations on important issues such as board diversity, climate change and sustainability.

“Providing new digital opportunities for this self-service system gives retail investors a greater voice in the management of companies in which they own shares and in the democratization of markets.”

Companies ask shareholders to vote on issues such as the board of directors, approval of dividends, and how the company is run.

The vast majority of UK shareholders would like to attend the AGM, but nearly half are excluded due to widespread nominee account shareholding, the way most investment platforms operate.

The new service covers 5,800 traded shares, meaning all UK and European shares on the HL platform.

However, HL still does not allow voting for US assets. This is because the shares are usually packaged in a mechanism called a Crest Depository Interest, which gives access to foreign securities.

US CDIs conducted through Hargreaves are non-voting.

Investors need to log in to their account using the HL website – this service is not available through the app.

On the website, HL customers can click “view shareholder meetings” and provide voting instructions via Broadridge.

Votes are placed per account, which means that if investors own Isa, Sipp and Fund and Share Account shares, three separate votes can be placed.

Through this service, HL customers can also register to attend shareholder meetings.

HL said investors are more interested in having their say on important issues such as climate change, board diversity and sustainability.

HL said investors are more interested in having their say on important issues such as climate change, board diversity and sustainability.

Self-investing platform eToro was the latest to launch a similar service, also in partnership with Broadridge, last November.

Interactive Investor and AJ Bell allow customers to vote online and book seats at company meetings for a longer period.

Interactive Investor said that the number of votes processed increased by 30% per year to 210,801 in 2022.

Annual General Meeting attendance, as measured by the number of unique accounts requesting letters of representation, has doubled. But he added that “it was from a very low base” — 720 emails were sent in 2022, compared to 359 in 2021, 263 in 2020 and 651 in 2019.

It says: “This highlights the challenge UK PLC and the wider platform industry are facing if general shareholder meetings are to gain greater participation.”

The desire to have a voice on environmental, social and governance issues also encourages more investors to vote.

Demi Derem, general manager of Broadridge, said: “The requirements for ESG for retail investors have changed.

“The right to have a say in how the companies they invest in operate has become important. Subsequently, the functionality of shareholder voting has never been more important.

“We are proud to be working with Hargreaves Lansdown to offer their investors an enhanced proxy voting experience.

“Increasing retail investor participation is part of our ongoing mission to increase shareholder participation and improve overall corporate governance standards.”

Compare the best DIY investment platforms and Isa stocks and shares

Investing online is simple, cheap and can be done from your computer, tablet or phone at your convenience and anywhere.

When it comes to choosing a standalone investment platform, Isa stocks and shares, or a shared investment account, the range of options can be overwhelming.

Each provider has slightly different offerings, charging more or less for trading or holding shares, and providing access to a different range of stocks, funds, and mutual funds.

When choosing the option that is right for you, it is important to pay attention to the services it offers, as well as administrative and trading fees, as well as any other additional costs.

To help you compare investment accounts, we’ve gathered the facts and put together a comprehensive guide to choosing the best and cheapest investment account for you.

We highlight the top players in the table below, but we encourage you to do your own research and review the points in our full guide, linked here.

This is Money’s complete guide to the best investment platforms and IPs.

The platforms below are independently selected by This is Money’s specialist journalists. If you open an account using the links with an asterisk, This is Money will earn an affiliate commission. We do not allow this to affect our editorial independence.

Administrative fee Expense Notes fund dealing Standard stock, trust, ETF trade Regular investment Dividend Reinvestment
AJ Bell 0.25% Maximum £3.50 per month…

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