The ‘invisible’ hand: Views from UK institutional investors

Deborah Allcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Investors are called to be good stewards/trustees of their investments, often on behalf of third parties. In light of this fiduciary responsibility, and the conundrum of public criticism potentially impacting on share price, this paper aims to use the basis of the UK governance code to explore what important dialogue investors really have with their holdings to support good governance. Design/methodology/approach: Semi-structured telephone interviews with eight institutional investors explore governance issues and investor company dialogue, giving insights into the aspects of the importance of their part in the UK corporate governance code. Findings: Rather than being sleeping lions, investors positively engage with companies, with regular communication being high on their agenda and not always via the annual general meeting. There is a preference to engage directly with the company rather than in public view or via share dumptin. Thus, we often do not see their actions around their fiduciary duties as often they avoid public criticism or any visibility that could do reputational harm and decrease company value. Research limitations/implications: This dialogue was just before the point of the exposure of the financial crisis; however, it shows the importance that investors give to taking their responsibilities seriously. Importantly, it provides a springboard for further debate following the financial crises and the updates of the financial environment. Practical implications: Even though policy seeks engagement, the nuances of the investor dialogue are under explored compared to visible quantitative metrics. This dialogue assures that investors are active, even if their engagement is not public and can be deemed as hidden. Originality/value: Complementing quantitative studies, this paper explores a qualitative approach, uniquely sharing insights into a hidden and little explored world of fiduciary dialogue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1074-1088
Number of pages15
JournalCorporate Governance (Bingley)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2018


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