Migration to digital strategies and technology is a persistent theme in today’s society – one that
offers many advantages for both businesses and their customers. Even so, the
lion’s share of governance professionals are stuck in legacy communications rooted in bulky mailing
packages, in-person shareholder meetings and standardized communications. It’s time to change.
Firms now have an opportunity to refresh their governance approach, and stand out from the crowd
by modernizing their communication strategies and evolving the role of corporate secretary and
investor relations professionals.
Continued reliance on non-digital tactics ignores the most important constituent – the shareholder.
These stakeholders have already embraced digital channels in their daily lives, and being presented
with legacy communication approaches can create an uninspiring experience.
The more progressive governance professionals are investing in digital communications to transform
the way they operate to create consistent, in-depth experiences for shareholders on the digital and
mobile platforms they are using.
Bringing a shareholder staple to the virtual world
One of the most visible components of shareholder relations is the annual shareholder meeting. While
the status quo is an in-person annual meeting, adopting new digitally focused strategies can improve
Virtual shareholder meetings are becoming increasingly popular for firms aiming to capture the value
of engaging more shareholders. Many of these firms start with a hybrid solution that involves a virtual
meeting combined with the traditional, in-person annual meeting. The virtual meeting is accessed via
a branded company page and is accessible on any device. Interactive elements like proxy voting and
asking questions at the meeting are seamlessly built into the online experience.
Pre-meeting communications such as Notice & Access
(N&A), or “e-proxy”, have encouraged shareholders
to vote their proxy online, and drive shareholders to
obtain additional company details and reports. N&A
communications can also leverage QR codes to facilitate
online access. Some companies have taken strides
towards engaging shareholders prior to the annual
meeting via an interactive online forum to gather
pre-meeting sentiment and communicate additional
information such as a video message to shareholders from
Fostering a year-round experience
Governance professionals should also consider more
frequent communications beyond the annual shareholder
meeting. Historically, companies had more frequent
communications to shareholders via “quarterly reports”
that were mailed out to all investors. These one-way
communications became cost prohibitive and are no
longer in practice today.
Modernizing the shareholder experience requires more
frequent touch points throughout the year that point back
to an easy-to-use online portal. These portals can provide
streamlined access to in-depth – yet still digestible –
information, communication preferences, and executable
calls to action.
These communications and portals intuitively format
content to adapt to the increasing number of devices
shareholders choose to use when accessing this
information. The more in-depth experience benefits
shareholders, while companies’ relish the compliance and
cost efficiencies of these service tools.
Digitizing the shareholder experience is an investment
that some governance professionals have started to
make, and all will eventually be compelled to make.
Forward-thinking governance professionals are delivering
a more complete, immersive shareholder experience for
shareholders on the channels and with the devices they prefer.
By shifting the paradigm from servicing obligatory
communications to creating these value-adding
programs, companies can finally grasp the vast potential
of the digital world.