Paatsch says that funds managers and custodians are preparing to migrate to electronic proxy voting. The problem, he says, is that there is no business case for the registrar. “I hope they will show leadership on this, but my belief is that it will take a major public mistake before they come into the 21st century.” Greg Dooley, managing director at ComputerShare, says that the company is doing its best to steer the industry towards an electronic solution.

In August, ComputerShare went live with Investor Vote, an electronic voting facility that allows shareholders to register votes online. But according to Paatsch this is classic registry behaviour: “It appears to be an electronic process, but in the end the votes still need to be printed out and manually entered,” he says. “This is not a solution for a sub-custodian. It doesn’t accept split votes, and it requires an online login for each company; can you imagine trying to maintain 500 sets of passwords and login details?”

Dooley says assertions that registrars are holding back the move towards automation are “absolutely not true…We would love to see the industry move that way; it is not a cost issue, we spend millions every year in research and development to improve our service.” SWIFT visited the offices of ComputerShare last month, and Dooley said that while he had not yet seen the detail, the company would be happy to be involved with an end-to-end electronic solution.

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