The contentious proposals from the board of Australian Wealth Management to increase directors fees, grant 2.2 million options to its managing director, Andrew Barnes, and gain approval for its remuneration report were comfortably passed by shareholders last week.

Despite opposition from the Australian Shareholders Association, which had advised shareholders it would vote against the options and the remuneration report, but in favour of the fee increase for non-executive directors, all resolutions were passed on a show of hands. The highest proxy votes against were for the Barnes options – totalling 11.5 million – but still dwarfed by the votes in favour – 117.6 million. Shareholders with a total of 9.9 million shares voted against the directors fees increase (126 million in favour) while votes for only 1.6 million shares were cast against adoption of the remuneration report (136.1 million in favour). Barnes is scheduled to step down from the company around the middle of the year, if the proposed merger with Select managed Funds goes ahead. AWM shareholders are not required to vote on the merger but an extraordinary meeting of Select shareholders will be held in late May to decide on the matter. Barnes told shareholders, at the annual general meeting in North Sydney last Wednesday, that the financial planning arm, Bridges, passed the $6 billion mark for funds under advice during the financial year. “This milestone came as a result of a significant increase in leads from our referral partners as well as an increase in financial planners and Bridges branches,” he said. “The growth in both the number of referrals and increase in new clients and financial planners are pleasing.”

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