Are we done with the days of shareholder participation? There has been a significant decrease in member attendance at annual general meetings. Despite the decrease in participation, companies are still sending out paper notices, hiring large venues, organising catering and mostly just wasting money. So, why not go digital?
Notice of meetings: optin
If you do decide to go digital there are a couple things you should know. Australian companies are still required to give notice personally or by post unless an individual shareholder elects to receive notices via electronic means (s249J (3) Corporations Act 2001). In other words, postal or personal distribution is the default position and members must optin.
Recently the government released a proposal paper Technology neutrality in distributing company meeting notices and materials that addresses the ye old paperbased era. Until changes are made, make sure your "optin notice" requires members to actively elect to receive electronic notices. A member merely giving the company their email address is not a sufficient election.
Only recently (as in last month) have Australian companies begun hosting virtual only AGM's. For some reason companies seem to cling to tradition and are sceptical about how it all works. If you do choose to get virtual, we suggest creating a clear set of rules in advance. Shareholders need to be aware of the policies, procedures, and quirks related to the virtual meeting.
Our thoughts: stop being sceptical, let's revive shareholder participation (and why not save a few trees in the meantime).