Investors are increasingly turning to shareholder activism to make their views heard, and their campaigns are working. As public trust in large businesses and politicians is at an all-time low, many argue that, in the right hands, activism is more effective than political intervention in curbing corporate excess and poor governance.
According to research by FTI Consulting, shareholder campaigns in the UK nearly doubled from 28 to 51 last year as people increasingly used their ownership of companies to make a difference. Globally, campaigns have increased nearly five-fold since 2010 and now focus on a huge range of issues from boardroom pay to climate change.
Recent high-profile campaigns have included pressure on BP and Glencore over disclosure of fossil fuel risks; on French Connection about corporate governance rules; and on HSBC over executive pay.