What the New Digital Legal Proxy for Virtual Shareholder Meetings Means for Brokers

Imagine you’ve bought tickets for a concert and you’ve paid extra to go backstage and meet the performers. The big night arrives, but when you turn up at the venue, your backstage pass isn’t recognized so you end up missing out and going home.

That was the frustrating experience for some beneficial shareholders attempting to access virtual shareholder meetings (VSMs) during the 2020 proxy season. That also meant brokers were frustrated.

Digital Legal Proxy Is the Answer

An application programming interface (API) developed by Mediant simplifies access to, and voting in, virtual annual meetings. The API establishes a digital legal proxy that replicates a traditional legal proxy, making it easier for beneficial shareholders to securely participate and vote in virtual annual meetings.

And what’s easier for beneficial holders is easier for brokers.

Last year, many issuers set a window of a week or more to process beneficial owners. Brokers had to write to confirm the identities of their clients and advise the number of shares they held. Control numbers and passwords needed to be delivered. The task was bureaucratic, slow and created opportunities for errors. If delays occurred or mistakes were made, beneficial owners were unable to fully participate in a VSM.

The DLP removes most of these complexities. Brokers no longer need to manually verify a client or report on their shareholding. The only step will be to provide a control number.

Here’s how the new process looks:

  • Beneficial holders input the control number received from their broker
  • The control number is automatically sent by the issuer’s agent to the appropriate broker’s proxy agent
  • Validation or denial is automatically returned to the VSM platform provider

Watch Out for Exceptions

While everyone is better prepared for VSMs this year, inconsistencies between providers that accept a DLP and those that don’t could result in some confusion for investors.

Quick access to support is one of the ways to bridge this gap. Mediant will operate a call center to answer questions and assist investors who are struggling with meeting access or voting.

For more information about VSMs and DLP, contact info@mediantonline.com.