Wells Fargo Shareowner Services
Interviews With Two Long-Term Clients Of Wells Fargo Shareowner Services
Q. What makes your Shareowner Services relationship successful?
Doug: “Wells Fargo has been our stock transfer agent since our stock began publically trading in 1929. During this time, Wells Fargo has proven to be a leader in staying on top of developments within this area and displayed the ability to adapt to an ever changing environment.
They implement changes tailored to meet the needs of our shareholders and strive to make these changes as transparent and painless as they can. Our relationship manager is an excellent resource for us and keeps us informed on any changes that Wells Fargo is planning in this area.
Having access to senior management and Todd May, the head of the stock transfer area, is a plus. Wells Fargo is definitely service oriented, as evidenced by annual meetings with our relationship manager. Wells Fargo provides us with a high level of service and a valued platform for our shareholders.”
Victoria: “We are extremely pleased with the exceptional service and customer support Wells Fargo delivers as our transfer agent.
It’s critical that Wells Fargo responds quickly, understands and can meet the needs of our U.S. and international holders, and quickly and successfully resolve any inquiries. Our dedicated relationship manager ensures this is happening.”
Q. How important is service for both your company and your shareowners?
Doug: “Shareholder relations is very important to the company. As a result the company devotes significant time and resources to maintain excellent shareholder relationships, whether on an internal basis or through a third party provider, such as Wells Fargo Shareowner Services.
To continue to provide our shareholders with quality and timely service, we need to have frequent dialogue with the relationship manager, make certain that the transfer agent maintains accurate records, understands our expectations, and provides timely assistance to our shareholders.
Our company tends to have an older population of shareholders, who require more personal attention. We are happy with the level of service provided to our long-term shareholders by Wells Fargo.”
Victoria: “Transfer agent service is extremely important for Visa and our shareowners. We formed a relationship with Wells Fargo Shareowner Services prior to Visa’s IPO in March 2008. We maintain a three share class structure - shares which are both public and non-public, locked up and available, in which we have a large number of international holders.
We’re complex, but since day one, Wells Fargo has been with us each step of the way. They’ve been with us at our annual shareowner meetings, special meetings, processing dividend checks and more. And, most importantly, we have constant, active dialogue.
They understand our company and are extremely helpful in meeting the needs of Visa and our shareholders.”
Q. How has Wells Fargo worked with you through cost basis or other regulatory impacts?
Doug: “As noted earlier, we tend to have an older population of shareholders who have owned MDU Resources stock for an extended period of time. Many of these shareholders have not kept or maintained adequate records with regard to their holdings over the years.
In order to provide our shareholders with a tool to assist them in determining adequate cost basis, we participate in the cost basis platform that is available through shareholder services at Wells Fargo.
Determining cost basis becomes a focal point in the spring of the year when shareholders are preparing their tax returns. Therefore, I expect we will have some interaction from shareholders on this platform this spring.”
Victoria: “To enhance the overall customer experience, Wells Fargo revamped shareowneronline.com. Their site and mailing materials provide clear and concise cost basis information that’s easy for shareowners to follow.
Separate from cost basis, we also undertook on an escheatment effort with Wells Fargo and our treasury department. Because of the nature of our shareowner base we had a number of financial institution clients outside the
U.S. who either weren’t cashing their dividend checks or who didn’t have the proper paperwork for their shares. This was a broad and successful cleanup initiative.”
Q. How is your company working through investor activism or regulatory change?
Victoria: “Regulatory change and investor activism are very hot topics in the Investor Relations sphere. The Visa IR team works closely with our legal and corporate governance groups to stay informed of regulatory issues in Washington. We also regularly review and monitor our institutional shareowner base.
That said, we have remained relatively untouched by investor activism. To some degree it may be that we are a fairly young public company. However, just because a firm may be labeled as an ‘activist’ does not necessarily mean they will become an activist in your company. I believe we’re mitigating activism by keeping our management team visible, being transparent during our quarterly earnings conference calls and investor conference presentations, and encouraging an open dialogue with our shareholders.”
Doug: “We remain in close contact with our institutional shareholders. We are sensitive to proposed corporate governance issues that are in the best interest of our shareholders.”
When inquiries are made regarding our corporate practices we strive to maintain open dialogue with those parties to seek to address and find a resolution for their issues or concerns.
Our proactive role in addressing potential corporate governance issues has limited any concerted activism activity during our annual shareholder meetings.”
Q. Do you have any suggestions or best practices you would like to share?
Victoria: “Stay involved and informed. You may be dealing with a matter that is new to you or your company, but reach out to your peers as they’ve likely overcome a similar obstacle in the past.
Developing solid relationships is critical. It’s also very important to build strong connections across your own organization and with external partners or vendors as well. I see being a team player and treating people with respect and gratitude as central to succeeding in work and life.”
Doug: “It is imperative to have a good working relationship with your transfer agent and define clear objectives with regard to this area. Meet with your relationship manager in order to identify and set reasonable objectives and procedures with regard to shareholder transfer activities. Any negative shareholder feedback should be discussed with the relationship manager in an effort to clarify or correct any issues.
Become involved in industry organizations so you can stay on top of any developments in the shareholder relations area."
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo Shareowner Services, a division of Wells Fargo, is dedicated to serving its issuer clients and their nearly nine million shareowners. Clients have awarded Wells Fargo Shareowner Services with the industry’s highest overall satisfaction ratings for 7 years in a row, and 14 of the past 15.