Global accessibility through a hybrid AGM

February 2, 2022

It was a very nice feeling the other day as I realized that my previous blog post on Annual General Meetings got a lot of positive attention. The importance of a sense of ownership was extended by the readers to include other events and other stakeholders. Could not agree more!

Inspired by the feedback, I decided to write a bit more on the hot topic of AGMs. This blog maintains the idea that it is important to promote active ownership and to provide opportunities for the shareholders to directly engage with the Board. Not just for the purposes of control, but a sense of ownership and community.

The new angle I take in this blog is that the landscape of shareholding is changing. The digital transformation is penetrating all institutions and the governance processes of listed companies are no exception. Enlightened legislators understand this and make it possible to attend AGMs remotely.

The virtualization of AGMs is likely to contribute to the increase of global diversity of shareholder base. Therefore, there is an incentive for legislators and other relevant actors to work towards allowing and developing remote attendance. There is an obvious incentive for the firms as well. Holding a share of a company may be more attractive when you are not required to be physically present in the AGM in order to hold the Board accountable.

For the foreseeable future, in-room participation is likely to remain popular. At least if the event is run in the way described in my previous blog. However, as virtuality increases, most AGMs will turn into hybrid meetings.

This development means that the importance of top-class event professionals is highlighted. For the AGM to be successful, the show must be designed and run by someone who knows about the use of space, digital tools, and the organization of interaction in hybrid settings. And someone, who knows how to make best use of both physical surroundings and the virtual world.  

It is noteworthy that things may not be the same in the hybrid era as it comes to the need for space. It is possible that less room is needed many shareholders decide to attend remotely even if they did not live on the other side of the globe. For many of them it may be more convenient to stay at home rather than dress-up and travel for the meeting.

Who knows what will happen to attendance and engagement? Professional event organizers are likely to have some clue. With them and with sufficient resources a listed company can remain competitive even if there is a race to ‘who has the most entertaining AGM’.

If you are responsible for the AGM of your firm, play close attention. This race may soon be reality particularly if ‘virtual doors’ are opened to non-shareholders as well. Calls for transparency and opportunities for marketing may well mean that AGMs of the future are not just shareholder meetings, but events followed by all with an interest in the company.

Do you want to know more? Get in touch and we will find a solution that fits you timely needs.

Iiro Jussila
Partner
JIM Seven

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