Derek Pain: Progress of a sort as we are blessed with more info than ever

No Pain, No Gain

It could be argued that small shareholders have never had it so good. Although the bulk of the City still regards them as the (very) poor relations of the investment scene, they can obtain, thanks to the internet, more information about their shares than ever before.

In the bad old days, information was often in short supply. When I arrived in the City more than 50 years ago, newspapers were the main source of share prices and company news. By necessity they had to be selective and a great many companies – particularly small ones – were lucky to get a mention.

Another avenue was stockbrokers telephoning clients with news of developments, but they rarely bothered with the small player. And most communications direct from companies were by post. When strikes interfered with the leisurely delivery system, it was not unusual to find a company representative on the doorstep, particularly if a contested take over bid was under way.

I vaguely remember the company secretary of a now-forgotten concern called, if I recall correctly, Liverpool City Caterers, arriving at my home on a Sunday afternoon in the early 1970s when a strike had paralysed postal communications. He wanted my signature on a takeover document. I was happy to oblige, and after a glass or two he resumed his quest for LCC shareholders.

Since those dark, rather slow-moving news days, the information flow, both in quality and quantity, has improved immensely. The arrival of the internet has certainly transformed the lot of small shareholders. They can now log on to, say, the ADVFN web service, and at no cost obtain real time share prices and company news.

Should they insist – I do – postal links are still available. But many small shareholders are not computerised and unable to enjoy this information feast. In the main, they are those who are knocking on in years. They still rely on newspapers that continue to provide a vital service, various telephone links and what amounts to the modern day equivalent of the pigeon post. There is also an important service provided by the BBC, through its Ceefax text pages.

On Ceefax, there is a considerable range of company news and (via BBC1) around 2,500 share prices which are updated every 15 minutes. I suspect many find the BBC service invaluable. Besides covering top shares, it even offers the prices of obscure stocks such as Legendary Investments, priced at a mere 0.16p.

But this month's much-heralded switch to digital signals a BBC text cutback. The end of analogue TV means the BBC share service will be reduced to the top 350 shares, in effect the 100 shares of the benchmark Footsie index and those in the supporting FTSE 250 index. Out will go the vast majority of prices that are now displayed. The likes of Legendary Investments will no longer get a look-in.

Said the BBC in an email exchange: "We hope to offer the full service currently available on Ceefax if bandwidth allows."

I would not hold my breath for the old-fashioned share displays to be resumed in this multi-channelled digital age.

Another blow then to those who, by design or affordability, are not on the internet. Many companies no longer post interim statements and only send out, as they are still legally required, the yearly report. Those which post occasional information – such as take over developments – are dwindling by the month.

And, of course, telephone dealing with certificates is much more expensive than online trading. It is getting increasingly difficult for many computerless shareholders, particularly the elderly, to even remotely keep up with City developments in these days of what is almost a continuously updated information overload.

At least moves to dispense with yearly hardback reports and even the much-cherished paper share certificates have been abandoned but I suspect they will rear their ugly heads again in the not too distant future.

Spirit Pub Co, a no pain, no gain portfolio constituent, may, I think, survive the BBC carnage. Its shares have recently performed well.

Stockbroker Shore Capital remains a buyer and says that the group's strong recovery holds out hope that a dividend will be introduced. As I write, the shares are at a peak 62.5p, capitalising Spirit at £412m.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

    Trust Accountant - Kent

    NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

    Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    Law Costs

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?