We’re Built for This: The Paradigm Shift in Investor Communications

We’ve brought a digital-first transformation to investor communications since the founding of our business 20 years ago. We’re marking this anniversary with a special blog series that considers what societal changes in the use of technology mean for the future of the proxy industry.

The role of digital technology for brokers, issuers and shareholders has evolved since Mediant opened its doors, but the last two years have seen an accelerated pace of change as our world has adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the coming weeks, we’ll focus on five key trends driving change in our industry right now and through the coming years.

What are the five trends?

Mediant believes that digital technology and its accelerated adoption is driving fundamental changes in how people think about and interact with organizations. Even more significant is how trends are combining to produce a paradigm shift that is shaking up the future of investor communications between publicly listed companies, retail shareholders, and brokerage firms.

Trend 1: Audiences Are Becoming Users

Communications has become increasingly interactive due to the internet, apps and social media. Instead of passive “audiences” that only receive information, today we have “users” with the power to control, choose, define and comment. They want to hear directly from companies about who they are and what they stand for—and take the initiative to conduct their own research online, and share their opinions and findings on online platforms.

Trend 2: Monomedia to Omnimedia

Paper-based communication persists in the proxy industry, for reasons of tradition, familiarity, and beliefs about best practices. The pandemic showed that digital communication can be more effective at engaging shareholders, especially when issuers and brokers embrace multiple media channels and platforms. Omnimedia means giving shareholders the information they want, when they want it, on their preferred device.

Trend 3: From Periodic and Delayed to Continuous and Real-Time

Issuers and brokers that limit communication to traditional documents, whether paper-based or email, will be increasingly ignored by today’s shareholders. People are used to live interactions and constant availability; the same is demanded of the proxy industry. Technology is making continuous and real-time shareholder communications easier, more flexible and affordable.

Trend 4: Mediated to Non-Mediated

Mediated information still has a place in the proxy world, both for industry and shareholder audiences. However, issuers, brokers and shareholders are also active on social media and other forums, sharing news and ideas, voicing opinions, debating and learning, and trying to find an edge. These conversations are non-mediated, fast-paced, and at times can have an outsized impact on share prices and industry responses.

Trend 5: Generalized to Personalized

We live in an age of choice and public companies are not immune to this expectation. Traditional printed documents – long, complex, and typically mailed to investors – are inadequate when the needs and wishes of shareholders are so varied. The same goes for physical-only shareholder meetings, which now feel restrictive and exclusive after so many investors have experienced digital meetings. Issuers and brokers need to provide upfront and transparent communications to increase shareholder engagement.

Why is this a paradigm shift?

The unifying factor in these trends is the shift to digital, which some refer to as the Third Industrial Revolution. Although this began in the second half of the last century, it’s in this century that most of us have felt the impact of home computing, the internet, smartphones and social media.

The pandemic fast-tracked the adoption of these technologies. Years of change took place in a few months as physical interactions were rendered difficult or even impossible. The persistence of Covid-19 has embedded and amplified these trends, leading to fundamental and permanent changes in how people think and act. Not only is there no going back, but a more strongly established digital infrastructure will maintain a rapid pace of change for several years to come.

We're Built for This

Over the coming weeks, we will be delving in to better understand the impact of each trend and offering best practice guidance on how issuers and brokers can advance their digital transformation.

Mediant was born digital. Our systems and business strategy are designed for the digital age; we’ve been innovating for the paradigm shift. Being modern and agile has made Mediant the smart choice for 20 years and we’re determined to continue our mission of helping clients balance innovation with industry requirements for many more years to come.

For additional information, please contact us.