Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 18th 2014 Contents A7
May 18, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
FOLLOW THE LEADER
THE TEXTILE KING
Corner Queen & Henry Sts., P.O.S.
Tel: 625-2904/Fax: 623-2313 0614097
TOP QUALITY SUITING
Minority shareholder activist Peter Permell.
Peter Permell has built a reputation as advo-
cate for minority shareholders. He has been
vocal on shareholder issues with the collapse
of CL Financial, and recently challenged exec-
utives of First Citizens at the annual general
meeting, calling for more transparency in the
fees they paid themselves.
Permell described himself as a "long-standing
crusader in the fight to establish a culture of sus-
tainable minority shareholder activism in T&T."
He believes that knowledge can help bridge the
gap between the smaller, "unsophisticated" share-
holder and the executive.
"One of my hobbies is reading: not just novels,
but companies' annual reports and financial state-
ments, which have given me a knack for finding
where the corporate bones are buried. What I
look for in the reports is not so much what the
documents are saying, but what they are not say-
ing," he said.
Permell has called for minority shareholders
to become more aware of their rights under the
prevailing regulatory framework.
"In so doing, they not only protect these very
rights and powers, but also significantly contribute
to good governance and the overall development
of the capital market," he said.
"Some say I have been blessed with the gift of
the gab and the power of the pen. I am not too
sure about either, but what I do know is that I
was fortunate to receive a solid, well-rounded
education," he said.
Permell, who lives in east Trinidad, attended
the Tunapuna Boy's RC School, going on to St
Mary's College and then the University of the
West Indies, St Augustine. He worked at the uni-
"I believe my background in finance and
accounting is a definite plus, not to mention the
many, many years that I served in the credit union
movement at all levels, and the fact that I have
been a keen investor and faithful student of the
stock market for over 30 years," he said.
Permell is now his own boss---he is a financial
adviser and minority shareholder advocate.
Vocal on BWIA, Clico...and now First Citizens
"In each case, with the exception of Clico, the
shareholders found me," said Permell.
"However, in the case of Clico...I was a pol-
icyholder myself and the injustice was too egre-
gious to leave unattended," he said.
"I try to be consistent, balanced and respectful
whenever I speak or write. I usually do so from
an informed position and try to take the ethical
high ground. I am not afraid to speak my truth
clearly and I do so without fear or favour, malice
or ill-will....My message resonates with thousands
of minority shareholders.. many of whom were
former Clico policyholders," he said.
a thankless job, be passionate
Citing Warren Buffet as a role model, Permell
said they shared a rule of thumb: when buying
a stock, think of it in terms of buying the whole
"Most investors don't analyse the businesses
they invest in. They simply follow the brands of
successful corporations. If you are buying a shop,
you will analyse the type of products sold by the
shop, overall sales, expenses, competence, and
experience of the manager, competition strength
of the shop, how the shop will manage the change
in customer trends and so on," he said: "...and
ask yourself: would you buy the whole company
if you had enough money?"
Permell said that individuals looking to become
advocates must be truly passionate about it.
"It is a thankless job with no specific hours of
work," he warned.
"They must properly equip themselves. More-
over, they must be mentally and physically fit,
have a very supportive family; be well-equipped
to take a proactive stance by keeping themselves
informed of market news, trends and develop-
ments; familiarise themselves with the various
pieces of legislation governing the securities mar-
ket (eg the Securities Act, TTSE Rules, the Com-
panies Act, the Financial Intuitions Act); be not
afraid to jump off the beaten track and swim
against the tide; and be able to motivate and
inspire others," he said.
And beyond...the paradigm has shifted
Permell said minority shareholder advocacy
helped maintain public confidence in listed com-
panies and the stock market.
Such public trust, he said, "can only be achieved
by the establishment and proper policing of a
minimum set of industry standards...against which
all corporate behaviour can be tested. Failure to
so do usually results in a decline in stock market
activity and in a general lethargy in investment,"
Permell said some believe that until recently,
there was only a small group of unsophisticated
investors who did not challenge corporations; but
that is changing---"for instance, when substantial
shareholders and insiders conveniently fail to
make full...and timely...disclosure, while they
engage in abusive and discriminatory activity
such as insider trading, market manipulation and
price rigging. In the past, this would go unnoticed,
and receive little or no media scrutiny. However,
after Clico and FCB, clearly the paradigm has
shifted," he said.
the big boys
...makes a case for smaller investors to educate themselves
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