Proxy View is a venture between parties providing the technology and those providing the opinions. The goal is to provide the opinions of experts in the field of activities at shareholder meetings such as annual general meetings (AGMs), special general meetings (SGMs) and extraordinary general meetings (EGMs) such as scheme meetings and meetings for special groupings, all within the corporate laws that affect companies. We focus on listed companies, and plan to cover all companies listed on the South African JSE over time.

We sell our opinions to individual shareholders for a really nominal fee during 2014, which might change over time. Our current maximum charge is R100 per opinion.

Our opinions are not intended to be, and should in no way be mistaken for investment advice. These opinions are invitations to ‘look over our shoulders’ as we consider how we would vote on every resolution. They are very much our opinions. Other people are entitled to disagree.

We have views on what we believe constitutes appropriate behaviour of a company and on its board of directors. We also have views on what remuneration disclosure is essential for shareholders in order to make it possible for them to decide whether boards or management are doing the best for the stakeholders. And although we do not try to be prescriptive on remuneration levels, we do flag cases where we believe a line has been crossed.

We do appreciate that many boards and many managers are of the opinion that shareholders are often unnecessarily critical. This may be so from time to time, but criticism is vital.

We also know that many individual shareholders think that their votes don’t count, because they will seldom be in the majority and thus their views would not change the company. There is a strong other side to this coin; in recent months even fairly small opposition, especially to remuneration issues, has made boards and management sit up and take notice; and we have seen positive changes as a result.

We invite you to consider our opinions, make up your own, and then to engage with the company where you hold shares. And remember, you have the right to ask questions: it’s not just about the vote itself!