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Digitizing the Shareholder Experience

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 shareholder engagement.

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 the CEO.

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.

The future

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.

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Virtual Shareholder Meeting

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