Strategy

The return of the activist... but not as we know it.

Why the ‘20s will go down as the decade of the corporate activist...
William Heathcoat Amory
Last update 20 February 2020

Disclosure – Non-substantive Research

This is not substantive investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. With this commentary, Kepler Partners LLP does not intend to influence your investment firm's behaviour. 

The advent of social media has led to an increase in activism of all types, the like of which has not been seen since the penny press changed the course of American history in the 1800s. From #MAGA to the Arab Spring, platforms such as Facebook have had a profound effect on politics and society.

Everywhere, we are invited to support campaigns on social media. Where once it would have taken a petition (which requires a pen, frayed paper, and someone to hand it around at the very least), it is now as easy as “liking” at the touch of a button any cause on Facebook to lend your support. As a result, individuals in society are ever more expected to engage on topics and issues that affect them (and even those that do not).

And having tasted the forbidden fruit, it seems unlikely that things will ever be the same again. We are all becoming activists in one way or another. Absolutely, we may not have the same passion for a subject that the leader of a campaign might have. But we are increasingly happy (or indeed desirous) to have our views sought, and vote taken.

The same trends and pressures are absolutely being felt in the corporate boardroom. With the confluence of these ideas now coming to the fore, we believe it might be fair to say that the twenties will come to be seen as the decade of the investment activist.

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