The annual general meeting (AGM) is a legal requirement for many, whether you’re a listed company, member-based association, sporting federation or not-for-profit. It marks the one time in the year where shareholders formally meet with the board of directors and provide the perfect opportunity for shareholders to ask pressing questions and vote on key issues such as the approval of annual reports and accounts, the election of directors and reelection of auditors for the new accounting year.
The ban on large mass gatherings and restriction on the movement of people globally due to coronavirus has had a serious impact on the ability to host AGMs. The vast majority have been postponed or massively scaled down to just a few board members held behind closed doors without any shareholder representation.
An AGM without shareholders? It’s not ideal. Frankly, there is not a more important time to have shareholders present so they are able to truly understand the impact of the pandemic on company liquidity and solvency into the future. It’s important organisations find effective ways of meeting and gathering feedback from shareholders, whatever the global situation. If you are concerned about how to host your AGM, perhaps taking it online could be a viable option.
Virtual and Hybrid AGMs
After years of traditional annual meetings, virtual AGMs are increasing in popularity with many companies. With a virtual AGM, all of the elements that make up a physical meeting are replicated online – authenticated registration, speaker presentations, real-time Q&A and even voting. Some companies are also utilising the “hybrid” AGM, where an online component that enables remote participation is run alongside a physical meeting.
Benefits of Going Online
Virtual AGMs don’t have to be a short-term solution, they have benefits that can be enjoyed even when the restrictions ease.
- Easily Maximise Attendance
With a virtual or hybrid AGM, your event becomes more accessible for shareholders wherever they are in the world. Simply, every shareholder now has the chance to attend and have their say. Maximising attendance is important to maintain a valuable dialogue with all shareholders concerned with your company and not just those who are conveniently located to the meeting location.
2. Significantly Reduce Costs
A virtual AGM can be more cost-effective than you think. While investment in the right technology and provider is required, you’ll be able to cut back significantly by eliminating the need for hiring a venue, providing catering and/or making travel arrangements for anyone attending.
3. Confidently Meet Regulatory Requirements
Australia operates a highly regulated environment where companies must meet upcoming AGM and reporting requirements. In the UK, the government’s stance is the same with public companies expected to find flexible ways to still convene meetings safely within 6 months of the end of their financial year. Whichever compliance measure you’re bound by, providing evidence that your AGM took place is imperative. With a virtual annual meeting, you have a much faster and efficient way to generate audio recordings and detailed transcripts of the AGM than you would in-person. Both can be stored for later review and distribution to respective government bodies and financial market regulators.
All in all, the trend towards virtual and hybrid AGMs and large scale gatherings, in general, will be here to stay. The long term benefits it provides to both the organisers and the participants are far too great to be ignored.
Looking for the perfect partner?
If you’re thinking about running a virtual AGM or a hybrid version that enables remote participation in the physical meeting, babl can help. babl provides a secure platform that supports scalable audience sizes, high-quality audio and video streams plus smart question queuing and digital polling technology. If you want a cost-effective solution to hosting your AGM, contact babl today on 0800 980 5155 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.