As companies embrace telecommuting and flexible work arrangements, the traditional annual general meeting (AGM) is also undergoing a shake-up.
COVID-19 has forced organisations to rethink how they interact with the public, meaning AGMs are moving online, with excellent results—for businesses and shareholders alike.
From cost savings, to increased attendance and higher voter engagement, here’s how your business will benefit when you make the switch and hold your next AGM online.
A virtual AGM is the same as a physical AGM, except that it’s conducted via teleconferencing, electronic voting and webinar. Since the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) updated it’s guidelines to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, organisations are expected to continue their yearly shareholder meetings by taking them online to accommodate physical distancing requirements. The format of an AGM remains the same whether it’s held physically or virtually.
For many organisations, the cost of holding a traditional AGM has always been a drawback—especially when meeting attendance is poor. Once the venue’s been booked, important shareholders flown-in, security hired and catering paid for, the benefits of many traditional AGMs are outweighed by the expense and low turnout on the day.
By taking your AGM online, you can bypass these overheads and save on the numerous costs associated with holding an in-person event. All you need to hold a virtual AGM is a reliable managed virtual event platform and a small space such as your home or existing office.
In the US, virtual AGMs have been steadily growing in popularity for years, and it’s been a good way for Australian companies to gauge shareholder sentiment and attendance. Overall, early adopters both here and abroad have been overwhelmingly pleased with virtual AGM turnout. Numbers have increased, and this is primarily because remote shareholders are no longer restricted by travel time or expenses.
Virtual AGMs also make it easier for shareholders with health issues or disabilities to have their say, meaning your organisation is more accessible and attractive to a diverse range of investors.
Organisations that have moved their AGMs online are finding that the increase in attendance is also improving engagement rates. Rather than being passive observers, shareholders are more likely to submit questions, vote and have their say when they can do so on a virtual platform.
This is where choosing the right managed virtual event provider is important. Look for a service that includes a moderator, and can facilitate Q&A and voting sessions.
Before COVID-19, some traditional organisations were hesitant to take up virtual AGMs due to a distrust of the technology and a fear of potential security breaches. In reality, with the right virtual event solution, your virtual AGM will be just as secure as a traditional meeting, if not more.
Look for a managed virtual event provider that's based in Australia and has its own network infrastructure. Reputable companies that value your security will only allow access to your meeting via several layers of security including encoded URLs, a secure domain and the provision of access codes and PINs. The meeting will also be closely monitored throughout, ensuring no uninvited guests join the meeting.
Although the first time you hold a virtual AGM may feel a little unusual; the format, structure and flow of your meeting doesn’t have to change from what you’re used to. The key is to hold a few practice meetings— just as you would prepare for your traditional meeting— and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make the transition.
You still need to hold an AGM every year, and you still must adhere to the ASIC guidelines on how they are run; including providing all participants a reasonable opportunity to join in discussions, ask questions and vote on resolutions.
In many ways, the virtual AGM experience can even feel more personalised for your shareholders than traditional meetings. Attendees can dial in, be professionally greeted and then join the conference. Some virtual event managers will even call attendees personally and connect them to the AGM.
You don’t have to move your entire AGM online. Many companies are enjoying the best of both worlds and are choosing to host a hybrid AGM.
A hybrid AGM refers to a traditional shareholder meeting that’s held at a physical location in addition to an online platform, allowing participants to attend either in-person or online.
This means that the shareholders who prefer physical meetings can still attend (so long as you’re satisfying physical distancing restrictions), while you gain the benefits that come with moving your AGM online.
It's likely that Virtual AGMs will continue to grow in popularity both out of necessity and because of the benefits that so many organisations and shareholders are seeing.
So if you or your organisation has been resistant to change, there’s no better time to speak to a virtual event professional to discuss how you can start planning your first virtual AGM.
The team at Express Virtual Meetings have close to 20 years experience in conferencing and running secure, high-quality events across Australia. Based in Melbourne, our team offers 24/7 support, and we’re so confident that we can make your virtual AGM a success that we offer a 100% money back satisfaction guarantee.
To secure 10% off your first virtual AGM booking, book a demo of our virtual AGM service today.
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