Right now, over a fifth (24%) of investors would prefer to attend a virtual AGM.
During the pandemic, virtual AGMs became the norm but for 2022 and beyond, the format is here to stay. Myths around virtual AGMs persist - including that remote meetings cut off opportunities for discussion and allow board members to avoid questions.
Here are the top three reasons why you should host a virtual AGM.
Increased shareholder attendance and engagement
Hosting a virtual AGM, or providing the option to join online, enables more shareholders to attend meetings as they are no longer restricted by geographical or time constraints.
We recently interviewed retail investors across the UK to find out how they feel about AGMs, and discovered a demand for virtual. One retail investor said “I prefer attending virtual AGMs. I work Monday to Friday and the times are often not suitable for me to attend an in-person AGM. I can fit virtual events around my work”.
Despite common misconceptions, virtual AGMs can be just as engaging as in-person events. A company that has seen the benefits of running virtual AGMs through an online meeting platform is Marks & Spencer.
In 2020, they hosted their first fully virtual AGM. They saw shareholder attendance increase from 561 at the last physical meeting in 2019 to 1,511 at the first fully digital meeting in 2020 and 1,664 in 2021. Engagement also increased by 48% with 86 questions asked in a virtual format in 2020 compared to 58 in 2019.
Virtual AGMs can also help organisations save costs without compromising engagement. Unlike physical meetings which involve variable costs, a virtual or hybrid AGM involves a single payment to a vendor who provides an end-to-end solution for the entire meeting. Physical AGMs incur costs that hybrid meetings can reduce, like hiring a venue, travel and accommodation and catering. Whilst a virtual or hybrid AGM doesn’t remove these costs entirely, it makes them far more manageable.
With a virtual or hybrid set-up, you can eliminate paper usage as agendas and ballot papers are all handled digitally. As well as being more convenient, using an app or handset ensures companies appear professional and progressive to shareholders, while freeing up organisers and planners to focus on making sure the rest of the event runs smoothly.
AGM | Hybrid Meeting
Sporting Federation | AGM