Director and shareholder information in filed company annual returns has long been a rich source of data for the UK’s direct marketers. But do new rules on compulsory address information take us a step closer to an “opt in marketing only” society? Stephen Groom files his report.
Topic: Direct marketing
Who: UK Government and direct marketers
When: October 2008 and October 2009
Effective 1st October 2008 and 1st October 2009, the Companies Act 2006 is making significant changes to the information about company shareholders and directors that is made publicly available.
Firstly, since 1 October 2008, for publicly quoted companies, the addresses of the holders of less than 5% of any class of share have no longer had to be included in the "Annual Return" which UK registered limited companies must file at Companies House. Only the names of these categories of individual need to be submitted.
Secondly, the same goes for shareholders in all UK registered limited companies which are private, with no publicly quote shares. In these cases also, only the names of shareholders, not their addresses, now need to be filed.
October 2009 change for company officers
And that's not all.
HM Government has taken on board security concerns arising out of the current requirement that all Annual Returns of UK registered limited companies contain the names and home addresses of all company officers, namely directors and company secretaries.
With effect from 1 October 2009, company directors and secretaries will be allowed to opt for only their "service addresses," in other words an office address, being publicly available on the company file at Companies House. Home addresses must still be filed, but these may only be used by Companies House for official business and by credit reference agencies.
Why this matters:
This development follows the seemingly inexorable contraction of the so called "edited electoral register" of those who have not opted out of their information on the electoral roll being made available for direct marketing.
With telemarketing also under increasing threat from the burgeoning Telephone Preference Service list of (now over 15 million) numbers which cannot be cold called without breaking the law, these developments deal a further blow to UK direct marketers. Another step towards an "opt in to marketing only" society?