Over the last few days, members will have received their invitations to the 2019 Annual General Meeting.
Even if they are not able to attend members can still have their say and vote either by post or online.
Mark Brennan, who’s the Society Secretary, explained what happens at the AGM and why it’s important to vote.
‘Each year we write to all our members over the age of 18, something of a logistical challenge, but something we believe is important, to invite them to participate in the Annual General Meeting.
As a mutual friendly society, there are no shareholders and whilst it’s good that they’re not taking any share of the profit, it transfers the responsibilities that shareholders have in companies that are run for profit to members.
It’s for members to elect the Directors, appoint the auditors and generally oversee what the Board does.
If members don’t believe we’re living up to our principles or not upholding our ethics then we want members to tell us.
Everyone who is a policyholder is a member it doesn’t matter what kind of policy you have and every member over the age 18 is entitled to vote at the AGM.
Last year over 900 members voted and this year we’re hoping that even more will. Introducing online voting makes it easier for members to have their say. It’s very easy and only takes a few minutes and as an incentive this year we’re making a donation to our charity of the year, Bury Hospice, for every vote made online.
Members who attend the AGM will hear short presentations from both the Chief Executive and Chairman. The Society’s Actuary, Steve Dixon, and Roger Frier Chair of the independent With-profits Committee are available to answer questions from members. The AGM is an opportunity for members to meet with Non-executive Directors and senior members of staff.’
Whilst it’s all well and good for the Society to encourage members to vote, but how has the Society lived up its responsibilities as a shareholder in the companies it invests in.
Keith Ashcroft, Director Finance and Risk, explained ‘There were 4 occasions in 2018 when our investment managers voted against resolutions at companies’ AGMs. Most of these were issues of governance where we believed there was a lack of independence or where a company’s audit committee was not entirely comprised of the Independent Non-executive Directors.’
We take our responsibility as a corporate shareholder very seriously and ensure that our votes always count.
If you are a member and you’ve not already voted you can vote here