Transparency and commitment to shareholders are a priority for a responsible business.
One of the main challenges faced by any company is to generate value and earn the trust of its shareholders. To overcome these challenges, we need continuous dialogue to enhance transparency, and a robust business model that affords benefits.
Our efforts mean we currently have more than four million shareholders in 170 countries – to whom we are firmly committed to providing an attractive, sustainable return.
Our solid business model allows us to generate value, based on profitability, efficiency and innovation, in order to obtain recurring profits. In 2018, Santander was once again one of the most profitable banks in the world. In a complex environment, characterised by high volatility, we have continued to meet our financial targets, increasing shareholder remuneration to as high as 23 cents per share in 2018. This means an annual increase of 4.5% for total dividends and 9% for cash dividends.
Fostering transparency of information through dialogue
We pay special attention to building trust with our shareholders. We encourage active participation at shareholder meetings and listen to their feedback. We have also applied new technologies to improve voting processes, using blockchain to ensure the transparency, efficiency and security of voting at shareholder meetings.
Last year, we launched a new virtual service channel, allowing shareholders to hold individual meetings with Shareholder and Investor Relations and have their queries and requests answered. They can also contact the area by telephone or WhatsApp, where they will receive personalised service in real time. In 2018 alone, we handled 166,149 queries via our virtual channels. We also consulted shareholders and investors more than 391,926 times via qualitative surveys and studies.
These figures show our commitment to a management model that offers our shareholders the greatest confidence and security, and is why we have been acknowledged as one of the three best banks in Europe for shareholder relations by the prestigious publication Extel, which collects feedback from more than 14,000 investment professionals.