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How to organize online shareholders meetings – 7 keys that will make your life easier

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In 2020, lockdown forced many companies to digitize their shareholders’ and board meetings very quickly. For Investor Relations departments in large companies, this change meant, in many cases, headaches and sleepless nights. However, technology should save time, money and effort for corporations and their shareholders alike. So, what are the keys to organizing smooth telematic shareholders’ meetings? In this post we give you 6 tricks that will make your life easier.

1. Plan hand in hand with professionals

Shareholders’ meetings are complex events that involve many stakeholders. Event organizers, video producers, streaming companies, communication agencies, law firms, etc. Until now, all this machinery was very well geared for the organization of face-to-face meetings, in which telematic voting and attendance were an almost anecdotal element.

Being forced to introduce technology for massive use in a very short notice, those responsible for these events had to juggle to adapt procedures such as the shareholders registry, the delegations of vote or the counting of the quorum. Thus evidencing that technology alone is not enough to make our lives easier. A new specialized profile is needed, a secure electronic voting provider.

If the date of your next shareholders’ or board meeting is approaching and you have not done so yet, contact an experienced electronic voting provider, who can be involved in organizing the event from the beginning. Your event organizer may know more than one company. Find out about the different options and choose the one that suits your needs best.

2. Write a call according to the online context

One of the most frequent mistakes is to think that an online event should replicate the characteristics of a face-to-face meeting only adding a computer to the equation. When we try to translate behaviors from the physical world in this way into the digital world, we only generate disappointment. Surely during the pandemic you have had this feeling many times.

Designing a “native” digital event in a context as regulated as shareholders’ meetings is difficult, but not impossible. We will have to sell this idea internally within the company, but the results will speak for themselves. By slightly adapting some aspects of the summoning, without the need to alter the bylaws and complying with current legislation, we can make life easier for our shareholders while reducing our stress levels at key moments such as the calculation of the quorum or the presentation of results.

3. Use a centralized digital shareholder census

Receiving attendance cards and vote delegations is one of the most tedious parts of organizing a shareholders’ meeting. And things get even more complicated when there are different channels for receiving these documents or if there is the option of delegation with voting instructions. This is where technology should become our ally and not just another enemy under the rule of Professor Chaos. Having an intuitive digital census manager that allows us to centralize the information that reaches us through various channels and informs us when there are inconsistencies is essential.

If your electronic voting platform allows the online registration of your shareholders, you are already well advanced. You could even collect remote votes in advance if your bylaws allow for it.

4. Apply technological standards, don’t reinvent the wheel

Technology is not an end but a means to achieve our goals. Your shareholders have very different ages and levels of training. But everyone uses an email and mobile phone on a daily basis. And a vast majority are used to using video call systems like Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, Zoom or Jitsi. Why complicate their lives by forcing them to learn a new technology? Make sure that your technology provider – or that of your event organizer – knows the reality of your shareholders and applies widely used technology standards without sacrificing security in identification and information management.

In this sense, the IEEE (the world association of engineers dedicated to standardization) defines interoperability as the ability of two or more systems to work together without inconsistencies. Check that your technology provider uses an interoperable electronic voting system, which allows you to identify your voters according to the European Regulation of Electronic Identification regardless of the videoconferencing system you use.

5. Offer phone support to your shareholders

No matter how intuitive your processes are, there will always be someone who needs additional support to complete them. The investor relations, marketing and communication departments dedicate enormous efforts to turn stakeholders into fans of the company. But all that work can be wiped out in seconds if shareholders becomes frustrated when they try to sign up for or participate in our meeting. To avoid this, it is important to have a helpdesk service that can solve any incident before and during the meeting. A high-end technology provider will allow you to outsource this support, adapting to your brand voice and ensuring the highest quality of service to your shareholders.

6. Pay attention to time management

As we have already seen, a face-to-face event and an online one are completely different things. In the face-to-face version, your shareholders talk to each other in the down time. They may even have a space to network while enjoying a catering service. However, in the online version they can be anywhere; at home, in the street or even by the pool. That is why it is very important to optimize time management. Presentations, Q&A and voting slots will need to be adapted, 

Again, many make the mistake of trying to keep doing things as they used to be in the past. Voting periods are set too short – leaving less skilled shareholders behind – or extremely long – while waiting for final results. An effective solution is to show the voting results online in real time, so that the secretary can make a provisional statement in a few seconds and continue with the meeting. In this way, the dynamics of the event are not interrupted without depriving anyone of the opportunity to participate at their own pace.

7. Evaluate, evaluate and evaluate

Lord Kelvin, to whom we owe so much, said: “If you can’t defin it, you can’t measure it. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. If you can’t improve it, it will always degrade.” Defining, measuring and improving is a job that is often forgotten after the hangover of the event. However, it is very important to have quality indicators that allow us to measure shareholder satisfaction with the organization of the meeting. If your shareholders’ meeting is telematic, you will need to introduce indicators related to the usability of the technology applied. A technology provider focused on continuous improvement will be able to help you with this task as well.

If you need help to organize an online shareholders’ meeting, contact us and we will study your particular case.

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