Virtual Annual Meetings: Refreshed SEC rules primed to amplify virtual annual meeting trend

March 20, 2020 12:56 pm Published by
The number of virtual annual general meetings has tripled since 2014, according to the Russell 3000, a leading equity index for institutional investors.

“Supporters of virtual meetings hail the benefits of giving more shareholders the opportunity to attend and actively participate in annual meetings, while at the same time reducing cost,” said Brian Balbirnie, President and CEO of Issuer Direct. “About 7% of companies held virtual AGMs last year and we expect this to grow to 70%, or about 2,500 companies, in 2020.”

In response to public health concerns related to Covid-19, the SEC recently issued new guidance allowing for a digital alternative to holding annual shareholder meetings on-site.

“[Companies may] use new technologies, such as ‘virtual’ shareholder meetings that avoid the need for in-person shareholder attendance, while at the same time ensuring that shareholders and other market participants are informed of any changes.”

Besides boosting inclusivity and reducing expenses, virtual meetings can also spark higher engagement through real-time surveys and audience insights to inform forward strategy. They also act as a safeguard against unforeseen circumstances, offering peace of mind to organizers and participants alike.