Engaging With Shareholders in a Virtual Environment

Virtual shareholders meeting

Cédric Ghighi-Bonnin, Company Webcast’s Head of Sales and Marketing and former Head of Sales for France & International, hosted a webinar discussing the nature of shareholder engagement in an increasingly virtual world. He was joined by Eugenée Mulhern, Senior Adviser at corporate law firm A&L Goodbody, as well as Company Webcast’s Account Executive for UK & Ireland, Afolabi Adio. 

Virtual engagement is on the radar of a large number of issuers as technology develops to enable high-quality, interactive virtual and hybrid meetings with investors. 

But how do virtual shareholder meetings work? How have attitudes towards them changed? And how can you make the most of them? 

The panel discussed these topics and more. 

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Webinar

Engaging with Shareholders in a Virtual Environment

To learn more about the topics covered in the webinar, you can check out the replay and watch it on-demand now 2021-08-30_12-08-53
 

Virtual meetings in the COVID-19 environment

The format of the traditional shareholder meeting in Ireland had not changed for many years, Eugenée Mulhern explained. However, she said that “COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for change.”

Physical meetings held at a specific time and location were the norm before 2020, closely regulated by national law and company constitutions. Hybrid meetings did begin to appear in Ireland following the first lockdown, with a quorum assembled in a physical location and other attendees joining remotely. However, the process for electronic voting remained unchanged, taking place 24 to 48 hours in advance. 

As COVID struck, businesses had to decide whether to postpone AGMs, wait and see what the situation would be like a few months later, or proceed with virtual meetings and restrict access. A&L Goodbody’s data showed that up to 80% of companies across the UK and Ireland adopted the latter approach. This was met with anger by some shareholder groups. 

Legislative changes

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 in the UK allows for virtual meetings to take place, providing there is nothing preventing such meetings in an individual company’s constitution. In Ireland, the Institute of Directors found that around 90% of business leaders were in support of virtual meetings. 

In the UK, Eugenée Mulhern reported, there is now updated guidance on virtual meetings issued by bodies such as the ICSA and the FRC. She also shared information about the July 2020 bill in Ireland that looked to update provisions in the Companies Act 2014. Temporary changes in the law now allow all meetings to take place virtually, regardless of what a company’s constitution states. The law was enacted to ensure all willing participants can join the meeting and have their say, where the technology is available. In addition, virtual attendees can be counted in the quorum and real-time voting for remote attendees is now possible.

According to Eugenée, it is clear that companies should take advice on how their meetings can comply with the new regulations. She also stated that she expected at least the hybrid meeting to remain popular in Ireland in the future, as it allows the greatest number of shareholders to be engaged. 

Tips to better engage with a virtual audience

To conclude, Afolabi Adio shared some audience engagement tips. They are a direct result of Company Webcast’s experience of hosting more than 10,000 webcasts annually. Afolabi recommended: 

Simplifying the registration process to increase attendance. He shared an example of the process that Company Webcast uses. They simply ask for an email address where the calendar invitation is sent. The company only captures relevant data, such as the attendee’s company name and phone number, 30 minutes before the webcast.

  • Embedding the webcast in your website. This allows more shareholders to watch it and companies who do this have seen up to a 50% increase in completed views. 
  • Using subtitles. This makes the webcast more accessible to people with hearing impairment. Besides, subtitles are proven to extend viewing time. 

Afolabi also explained that Company Webcast looks after all of the technical aspects from filming to distribution, allowing issuers to concentrate on the content of the meeting itself. 

You can request a demo of Company Webcast for your business to discover how it can help you embrace virtual shareholder engagement. 

Webinar

Engaging with Shareholders in a Virtual Environment

To learn more about the topics covered in the webinar, you can check out the replay and watch it on-demand now 2021-08-30_12-08-53