Customers of the second-largest online investing platform will be automatically opted into voting at AGMs.

Customers of Interactive Investor, until now have had an option to opt into an online capability which allows you to vote in AGMs. Now, though, they are providing a free service which automatically opts investors into voting in the AGMs of companies they have bought shares in. It’s a new feature which could empower thousands of investors to use their voting power at company meetings.

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Investors on the share dealing platform will have the ability to vote at AGMs as the default setting, although they can opt out if they wish. II’s voting mailbox service will notify customers when they can place a vote, as well as inform them of other shareholder events such as annual meetings.

In the first half of the year only a fifth of their 400,000 customers were registered to vote on the platform. Now that facility has been switched on across the board.

According to Richard Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of II, this could be a tipping point which encourages the millions of people who use online investment platforms to make their voices heard.

“We have seen how a default setting in the form of automatic enrolment for company pensions has had a huge and beneficial effect on savings for retirement,” he said. “By making the ability to vote online the default for shareholders, we hope to increase the popularity of another aspect of investing that is valuable and important. The ability to vote simply and easily should become the new normal.”

The move has been broadly welcomed by industry leaders, who hope it will encourage greater participation from private shareholders.

“Private investors often face a struggle to exercise their voting rights because of logistical challenges,” said Sir Laurie Magnus, Chairman off the City of London Investment Trust. “It is therefore good to see interactive investor’s commitment to shareholder engagement and encouragement for shareholders to exercise their rights.”

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