The annual meeting is an important opportunity for your management team to update shareholders on company developments, answer their questions and vote on proposals. In-person meetings are often plagued by low shareholder participation and engagement. That’s why virtual shareholder meetings, both stand-alone and in conjunction with in-person meetings, have gained momentum in recent years.
We recently launched MIC Digital Shareholder Meeting (DSM), a flexible platform that allows corporate issuers to choose the digital format that’s right for them and best facilitates shareholder engagement. DSM also can serve as an extension of an issuer’s brand. Customization enables you to promote your brand on registration pages, emails and ballots. You can also customize text, which provides an opportunity to communicate your company’s values and remind shareholders why they’ve invested in you.
Improving Shareholder Engagement
Many shareholders may not understand they actually have a voice in the company they’re invested in and that their vote matters. Shareholders with voting rights can vote on issues such as appointments to a company's board of directors, executive compensation, dividend payments, and the selection of auditors.
Improving shareholder engagement and meeting quorum is all about removing friction from the process and making it easy for shareholders to attend. After all, for many people, participating in-person may be inconvenient or just not possible. So it’s important to meet shareholders where they are and communicate with them via their preferred channel.
Challenges Faced by Corporate Issuers
Several challenges can affect shareholder engagement:
- Technical issues with virtual meetings degrade the experience for shareholders.
- Beneficial owners are frequently prevented from voting or asking questions due to authentication hurdles.
- Multi-step processes to register and vote can cause shareholders to abandon the effort.
- Lack of mobile and tablet access suppresses digital meeting attendance.
Also, a one-size-fits-all proxy voting program is ineffective if you are an issuer with a wide range of proposals. In addition, generic communications strategies are ineffective if you are an issuer with a diverse mix of shareholders. Other obstacles include having a lack of process and experience coordinating meeting activities and vendors. This can increase the risk of mistakes that cost time and money. Shareholder communication and voting activities can take scarce resources from vital board and legal deliverables too.
Navigating Around Challenges
With DSM, issuers can provide remote attendees, including beneficial owners, with easy registration and equal access to annual meetings via the device of their choice. Shareholders register for digital or in-person meetings on the ballot page, without having to navigate to different pages or endure endless mouse clicks. As many as 1,000 online attendees and 10 presenters can participate.
Additional key benefits include:
- Audio or video meetings are supported, meetings can be recorded and archived with on-demand replays, and reports with meeting metrics are available.
- On-site technical meeting support is available to help you deliver a flawless meeting. This includes working with you to plan, manage and execute your digital meeting, and, if you choose, be on-site during the meeting to help immediately resolve any potential issues so your meeting is a success. You also have the option of having another representative serve as your inspector of elections.
- The platform authenticates nearly all beneficial owners, enabling them to vote and ask questions during digital meetings. Digital registration may be revoked, if needed, for both beneficial and registered holders.
- Presenter bios can be featured to provide attendees with more background on senior executives.
Whether you hold your annual meeting digitally, in person, or a hybrid, enabling shareholders to vote live during the meeting and ask questions in a secure environment, regardless of format, will encourage their voices to be heard, empowering them to be active in proxy events. Making it easy for all shareholders to register and participate in your meeting will also contribute to increasing shareholder engagement.
To learn more about MIC Digital Shareholder Meeting, please contact Rex Morgan.