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The JSE’s ShareHub portal enables shareholders to become active participants in the companies in which they have invested

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Communication is key to the investor experience. Investors want to know what’s happening at the companies they’ve invested in, and those same companies want to keep their shareholders up to date with developments and opportunities for engagement. But while all parties want it, effective communication does not always happen. ShareHub, the JSE’s shareholder communication portal, is changing that by providing a single point of access for issuers, shareholders and brokers.

‘ShareHub is a centralised online mailbox and a filing platform that we created to empower shareholders and enable issuers,’ says Ayanda Ngcobo, Sales and Business Development: Issuer Services, Capital Markets at the JSE. ‘It leverages the benefits of digital communication technologies, allowing shareholders to maintain contact details and digitally access key information. This includes AGM announcements, integrated reports, annual reports, dividend and biannual statements, and even training.’

That training comes in the form of educational content, she explains. ‘We cover topics like how to invest, what the investing landscape entails, how to locate a broker in order to buy shares, and so on.’ Shareholders can also update their contact details via the portal, helping issuers keep a clean and current register of shareholder information.

Ngcobo says that ShareHub enables active shareholder participation, helping investors attend AGMs and vote on important motions without having physically to attend the meeting. ‘While the voting mechanism itself sits outside of ShareHub, shareholders would receive a link to the electronic voting platform either via email or SMS. The shareholder is then able to vote using one of either links to vote. The votes are submitted to the meeting in real-time, and – to prevent double voting – if the shareholder votes via the email link, the SMS link is automatically disabled, and vice versa.’

Shareholders may also use ShareHub to submit their proxies, submit AGM mandatory participation forms and register for a company AGM. ‘This is all done via the ShareHub portal without you having to print the information and sign, scan and send it back to your respective proxy solicitor,’ says Ngcobo.

The portal’s digital capabilities enable significant cost savings across the JSE’s ecosystem, she adds. ‘Consider the benefits from a printing perspective alone. Typically, if an issuer needed to communicate with its shareholders they would print the communication and send it via registered post. ShareHub takes that away by putting the communication in the portal. It also provides a lifetime filing and storage system for the documents, so a shareholder can – at any given time and in any given place – go back and view these documents.’

Issuers, in turn, are provided with a clear audit trail. ‘Everything is filed on the platform, so companies know that whatever communication they send out doesn’t just go into a black hole. They’ll know whether the shareholder has received and read the communication they’re sending. Issuers are also able to pull reports, so if they want to do a targeted communication campaign to a specific group of shareholders, they can do so.’ There is no size limit for documents, so issuers may also upload integrated annual reports of any size and store them on ShareHub for a lifetime with no restrictions.

ShareHub is backed by a strong support team, available to shareholders and issuers at the click of a button. ‘We have opened boxes for 750 000 shareholders on ShareHub, and it’s growing,’ she says. ‘We have a strong pipeline of issuers coming onboard, and we’re already looking to the next phase of growth. We began with the communication side of things; we then embedded the BEE Verification platform; and our next phase will include integrating our broker interface, where brokers will be able to open boxes for their stakeholders. Ultimately, we want ShareHub to become a space where all JSE stakeholders can communicate with each other efficiently, effectively and timeously.’

By Mark van Dijk
Image: Gallo/Getty Images