Virtual shareholder meetings, including Annual General Meetings, are becoming increasingly popular and often necessary for Australian companies. Available options are generally limited to costly outsourced fully integrated voting/meeting platforms, or simple do-it-yourself alternatives. FTI Consulting’s Strategic Communications practice provides a cost-effective solution for a professionally managed virtual shareholder meeting.
The Need For Virtual Shareholder Meetings
As a result of COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings, temporary modifications to the Corporations Act took effect in Australia on 6 May 2020 to enable companies to hold general meetings using virtual technologies. These modifications have been extended by the Government to 31 March 2021.
ASIC has issued guidelines on how hybrid and virtual meetings should be conducted. They apply to AGMs and other meetings of company or scheme members. It is important that hybrid or virtual meetings are conducted in a way that provides a reasonable opportunity for members to effectively participate – allowing questions to be asked and answered, and votes cast during the meeting.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Companies wishing to take advantage of these modifications to hold virtual or hybrid shareholder meetings, consistent with the ASIC guidelines, have had limited choices to date. An outsourced fully integrated virtual meeting /voting technology platform provides a complete solution; however, is generally prohibitively costly for small and mid-sized companies.
The alternative is a low-budget, DIY virtual meeting, which may pose its own logistical, technology, and resourcing challenges, which can reflect poorly on a company’s professionalism.