Broadridge Virtual Shareholder Meetings (“VSMs”): Preliminary Statistics

Maryellen Andersen is Vice President of Corporate & Institutional Relations and a Corporate Governance Officer at Broadridge.

After steady annual increases over the past decade, the number of VSMs jumped significantly in the first five months of 2020. [1] This is due to several factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including: social distancing guidelines from federal, state, and local authorities that dissuade groups of people from gathering; company travel restrictions on management, directors, and staff; and temporary permission to hold “virtual-only” shareholder meetings by several states that otherwise restrict them. Apart from factors related to the pandemic, the number of VSMs was expected to increase modestly year-over-year as familiarity with them grows among companies and shareholders, and as the greater shift toward digital communications unfolds.

Broadridge’s VSM service supports applicable rules and regulations for conducting shareholder meetings and provides functional choices for issuers and shareholders to utilize, consistent with best practices. [2] The platform provides a means for shareholders to vote at the meeting and, when meetings have shareholder proposals, proponents may present them by living voice. Participants can submit questions to management during the meeting, through a ‘question box.’ Many issuers utilize a function to enable validated shareholders to also submit questions in advance of their shareholder meetings.

Shareholder participation in these virtual meetings, overall, exceeded levels seen in recent years in typical meetings held only in a physical location. As more issuers and shareholders experience firsthand the efficiencies and conveniences of VSMs, we expect ‘virtual-only’ meeting practices to continue to evolve.

Key Metrics for VSMs Held between January 1 and May 22, 2020

Total Number of Meetings: 860 [3]

Average Duration of Meetings: 22 minutes

Average Attendance: 59 shareholders and guests [4]

Average Number of Shareholders Voting ‘Live’ at the Meeting: 4 (highest 178)

Average Number of Questions from Shareholders: 6 (highest 316)

Shareholder Proposals: 132 meetings had one or more shareholder proposals.

  • Over 80% of the proposals were presented by the proponent ’live’ over a telephone line. At other times, a proponent’s pre-recorded message was played, or the proposal was read aloud by a company official on behalf of the proponent.

Endnotes

1Over 500 VSMs were hosted during the 4-day period from May 26, 2020 to May 29, 2020. The data on these meetings will be reflected in a future report. Therefore, the statistics provided here are subject to revision.(go back)

2Refer to “Principles and Best Practices for Virtual Annual Shareowner Meetings,” Best Practices Committee for Shareowner Participation in Virtual Annual Meetings, 2018(go back)

3By comparison, Broadridge hosted 125 VSMs in the prior year period (1/1/19—5/22/19).(go back)

4Attendance figures reflect instances of multiple logins due to such factors as refreshing a browser or leaving a meeting temporarily and then rejoining. (go back)

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3 Comments

  1. Ed Durkin
    Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Always good to hear from Maryellen. Representatives of Carpenter pension funds have attended over 300 virtual shareholder meetings so far this season. The one-way audio only nature of these meetings and the lack of spontaneous interaction with the chair. board members or audit firm representatives is a serious shortcoming. Clearly more work needs to be done in evolving the format of these meetings to allow appropriate levels of interaction.

  2. John Chevedden
    Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    An all too frequent virtual annual meeting practice

    Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. (BLMN)
    5:00 am meeting in my time zone
    Management created bureaucratic barriers if shareholders want to ask questions at this meeting.
    No management presentation.
    No questions.

  3. John Chevedden
    Posted Thursday, June 4, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Remote annual meeting example
    Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation (CTSH)
    289,000 employees
    $28 billion market capitalization
    14 shareholders logged into the annual meeting.
    No clue as how many of the 14 shareholders logged in late or logged out early.

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