Private Investor: Cold calls make me warm to share confidentiality

It's possible to receive the strangest calls when your name and address are, or were, on a shareholders' register. Last week, a man who called himself Alex Stone phoned me from a firm called Lauris Capital, of which I had never heard. He asked me first whether I'd got my shares in Stagecoach through being an employee or otherwise.

I didn't wish to say, but he pressed on. The reason he was asking was, he stated, because he believed people were asking shareholders to sell their Stagecoach shares, supposedly because the dividend had been going down, and that he was ringing them to advise them not to sell. When I asked whether Stagecoach had asked him to do this exercise, he responded that no it hadn't and that he was phoning "clients off his own back". He didn't seem to be bothered when I told him I wasn't his client and that he shouldn't be giving financial advice.

Stone also claimed a link between his firm and Stagecoach through another company called Invue which, he said, was the underwriter for Stagecoach's debt, and that his firm, Lauris Capital, either used the same underwriter or actually owned it, depending on which version of his tale he was telling at the time.

A quick search on Google (which I do own shares in, I have to declare) yields no references to Lauris Capital or Invue (as regards underwriting services). Stagecoach has never heard of them, neither has the Financial Services Authority. The phone number Stone gave me (an 0870 number) had a foreign ringtone. When I eventually got through to someone he was "not at liberty" to answer my questions - although he did give me an address in Frankfurt where the "investment bank" was based.

From the moment he opened his mouth and called me "mate", I suspected Stone wasn't all he seemed, and so it would appear. Yet such cold calls are worrying because there may be people out there who are drawn into some dodgy financial scheme in a process beginning with such strange calls.

Perhaps the authorities ought to consider making share registers confidential. Directors are one thing, but I see no reason why anyone should be able to know how many shares any of us own. I fail to see what public good comes of this. Maybe we should all place our shares in nominee accounts, which are cheaper to look after, but it seems a pity that this should be the reason why.

On a less depressing note, I've been thinking about death lately. I hadn't realised before that you can buy shares in a firm called Dignity, one of the biggest undertakers in the country, although the resolutely mutual Co-Op buries more folk than anyone else.

According to an entertaining news report in this newspaper, Dignity is looking forward to a bit of an upturn in business because of the coming bird flu pandemic. Nice to see someone's going to do well out of it. In fact, Dignity is an ambitious and acquisitive concern, and its shares have enjoyed a lively run lately.

Dignity apparently buried Winston Churchill and the Krays, so it has obviously got a wide client base. The shares are up about a third on the start of the year. Of course, that doesn't make them "cheap" or "expensive" necessarily, and I'm going to have to do some more research to see whether they're in rude health or in the bed next to the door. Dignity shares are trading on a p/e ratio of 25 and yield 1.5 per cent. Not that tempting, and they don't even do a shareholder's discount.

One last word of sorrow on the bashing Vodafone has taken. The company's attempt to massage expectations about growth downwards knocked my shares quite badly. Is there really so little life in Vodafone?

s.ogrady@independent.co.uk

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
techResearchers recover 100s of nude photos from second-hand smartphones
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
peopleJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
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

    Account Management Strategy Manager

    £38000 - £42000 per annum + competitive: Real Staffing: Required skills:Previo...

    Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

    £60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

    Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

    AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

    £600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice