These are investors holding shares in a company under their own name, which usually appears on the company’s register of shareholders. This group can include individuals with shares in only one or two companies or with a portfolio managed by a professional company. It can include institutions (such as churches and other religious groups). Direct shareholders can decide whether to buy or sell a company’s shares. They can choose how to vote at an AGM, on issues ranging from executive pay to environmental policy. Those who own large numbers of shares have considerable influence.
Advocacy and campaigning groups may buy a few shares in a company in order to gain access to the company AGM or to count as one of the hundred individuals needed to support a shareholder resolution (in the UK). This helps them to engage with the board and shareholders or to protest against the company’s activities.