Reasons to be cheerful

Tue 19 Feb 2013

Stuart Ellen, Managing Director, Equiniti Registration Services, is optimistic about the future

I’m sure those clients with 31st December year-ends are, as usual, fully immersed in year-end activities and AGM planning. Coupled with the new remuneration and reporting rules, you can probably expect to be heavily involved in several re-drafts of your annual reports too.

Most economic indicators are providing a positive outlook for 2014. The UK economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2013 according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This means that in 2013 the economy showed its strongest growth since 2007. Meanwhile, UK manufacturing also continued to grow strongly in January, which is a welcome relief to many export based companies. Coupled with unemployment in the UK moving in the right direction, I think it is fair to say that things are looking more positive than they have for some time.

For Equiniti we are starting to see the IPO market gather increasing momentum. We were thrilled to receive the mandate from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to deliver the IPO services, and from Royal Mail itself to provide employee share plan and share registration services. This was the largest and highest profile IPO for many years and the first in the digital age, where technology and the internet played pivotal roles.

The task generated a great deal of interest from the public, employees and the media and Equiniti was firmly in the spotlight. Over 400,000 people applied directly for shares (a further 300,000 applied for shares through intermediaries) and in addition, 10% of all shares were given to 150,000 employees who received these as Free Shares in a Share Incentive Plan.

During the task, we managed to create a few records within Equiniti:

  • Over 15,000 sales received in one day, with more than 100,000 trades completed in the first three weeks of dealing
  • 6,500 application website hits per second at the height of the task
  • 20,000 calls to the Contact Centres in one day
  • First UK flotation to utilise online application and payment.

Jon Millidge, Company Secretary (now HR Director) at Royal Mail commented: “We knew that this would be a difficult challenge and we appreciate the advice and help that we received from Equiniti before and during the task and also now as we move into a business as usual mode. We got great support on the Employee Share Scheme in particular – which was massive – and are looking forward to developing the relationship.”

In 2013 we also undertook IPO services for Crest Nicholson, Tungston Corporation, Just Retirement, Infinis Energy, esure, Partnership Assurance, Eclectic Bar Group, Arria NLG plc, Benchmark Holdings and HellermanTyton. It’s great to welcome all of these new clients.

At the same time as the Royal Mail task, we also successfully managed and delivered the Barclays Rights issue, which had a very complex daily sale and cashless take-up facility, which was run in partnership with Barclays Stockbrokers. Feedback again was excellent. Clare Barrett, Director, Company Secretary Services, Barclays said: “I was delighted with the support David Farbon and his team provided for the Barclays Rights Issue. They provided clear guidance and worked collaboratively with the Barclays project team, including our lawyers, our ADR (American Depositary Receipt) provider and our print and mail house to determine a realistic timetable. We worked together to update shareholder documentation to facilitate the communication of the rights offering for eligible shareholders. Equiniti provided support for trading in the Rights and their helpline took over 20,000 calls in a 15-day period. They kept us informed on feedback from shareholders, the take up of the offer and worked closely with our brokers on managing the receipt of funds. Shareholders received their documentation promptly. Overall, a fantastic job. Thank you.”

We recognise that corporate actions are a vital element of services to our clients and a key part of our planning is to ensure that our high levels of service are maintained to all of our clients, their shareholders and employees whilst delivering these major projects.

Evidence of this came via a number of sources last year. We were crowned the UK’s No.1 Share Registrar in the Capital Analytics UK Registrars Benchmarking 2013 survey*. We also took home the accolade of ‘Best Shareholder Services Provider’ at the Shares Awards 2013 for the second year in a row, and for the fourth year running, our Contact Centre won the CCA Global Standard award – Equiniti is the only business in this sector to achieve this.

In Q4 2013, Equiniti Financial Services Limited was proud to have been awarded Membership of the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The application process involves a robust vetting of a company’s practices and procedures. Attaining Member Firm status is affirmation of Equiniti’s maturity and capability as an organisation to operate under the LSE’s well established principles and rules.

For our corporate clients and their shareholders and employees it is a further reassurance that our investment administration and share dealing services are achieving the highest security and regulatory standards. It will also provide a number of commercial benefits including access to a wider panel of brokers. This will enable us to provide a more competitive offering to both our corporate clients and end investors.

The 2014 events calendar is starting to build and we are looking forward to seeing many of you at the forthcoming discussion forums regarding Narrative Reporting and changes to SIP and SAYE savings limits. We are also making preparations for our annual Share Registration Conference to be held in June in London – invitations will follow soon.

All of the satisfaction survey achievements, industry awards and new business reinforce Equiniti's expertise in the market and our commitment to continuous improvement. Combined with an outstanding contract renewal rate from many, many major clients, 2014 is looking very positive indeed.

If you would like more information on this topic, please contact your relationship manager.

*Overall satisfaction results