Shareholders can now attend corporate meetings from the serenity of their own homes now.
How can that be?
Enter Virtual Shareholder Meeting (VSM) technology. VSM adoption is up sharply through the first six months of 2018 according to Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. a global fintech firm. Broadridge recently facilitated its 1,000th VSM at Balchem Corporations annual shareholder meeting.
Companies are increasingly leveraging technology to provide new ways to engage with shareholders. Broadridge continues to innovate the process through a combination of data-driven insights, multi-media tactics and an omni-channel approach, that leverages print, electronic and social media.
The virtual shareholder meeting is a key part of this evolving toolkit, providing greater access and opportunity for shareholders, across the country and the world, to participate in a companys shareholder meeting. No longer does a shareholder have to travel distances or incur costs to hear from management or ask a question, thanks to virtual meetings.
This was Balchems first VSM and we are quite pleased with the process and the result, said Mark Stach, Balchems General Counsel. The support and guidance provided by Broadridge were excellent in every respect.
During the first six months of 2018, public companies hosted 212 virtual meetings, up from 180 compared to the same period in 2017. Broadridge estimates that use of this technology in 2018 will increase to 300 for the full year, or approximately a 27% increase compared to 2017. Public company use of this technology to host virtual annual shareholder meetings has grown consistently since 2009 when Broadridge introduced this new technology solution.
In addition VSMs remain available for replay for one year after the meeting date on the companys website.
Shareholders can participate by viewing meetings, listening to discussions, asking questions, and voting their shares, all with secure technology and without the cost and time to attend in person, said Cathy Conlon, Broadridge vice president, Issuer Strategy. Companies holding a VSM have shown increased shareholder participation at their annual meetings and this is particularly helpful for individuals who have time or economic constraints, and those who live geographically far from the meeting but would like to participate.
VSMs on the rise
In 2017, 236 companies hosted VSMs – 212 were virtual only and 24 were hybrid meetings, meaning both in-person and a VSM.
More than half of the companies holding virtual annual meetings in 2017 allowed non-shareholders to participate, expanding participation in the meeting to a wider audience.
Earlier this year, an industry working group called The Virtual Annual Shareowner Meetings Study Group identified five principles and 12 best practices companies should consider when managing annual shareowner meetings.
The full report can be viewed here:Principles and Best Practices for Virtual Annual Shareowner Meetings.