The Future Is Now: How to Prepare for Virtual Shareholder Meetings
Are you working from home these days? Of course, you are. Nearly all of us are. Coronavirus has forced us all inside to help limit the spread of COVID-19, and we’re all doing our best to follow local guidelines.
Now, look around you. Are you reading this in your home office? Or maybe your bedroom? Perhaps you’re in your kid’s room where the wi-fi is better. (Sorry, son, dad needs to write a blog!)
Well, surprise! You're actually in a boardroom right now.
That’s because the SEC, Glass Lewis, and ISS recently issued updated guidance on virtual shareholder meetings for 2020, opening the way for more companies to go digital. While you might have thought it was just accounting and finance teams that get to work remotely, it's boards of directors and shareholders, too.
This means a lot of change to many long-standing business processes. But, the good news is the world is set up for remote efficiency—and you can be, too. Find out how below.
What are virtual shareholder meetings?
A virtual shareholder meeting (VSM) is a way to remotely conduct the requirement of the annual meeting of shareholders. Annual shareholder meetings normally include votes for board of director seats, executive compensation, and shareholder proposals.
However, it’s not quite as easy as just getting everyone on a Zoom call. Because shareholders can vote and ask the management team questions during the meeting, the issuer needs to be certain they are who they say they are before they gain access to the meeting. Shareholders need to be properly authenticated in order to attend.
How do I prepare for a virtual shareholder meeting?
Workiva partner Broadridge can manage shareholder communications and other administrative details to make your first virtual shareholder meeting as painless as possible. Broadridge, a global fintech company, helps businesses print and distribute materials like proxy statements, annual reports, and other financial documents.
Broadridge has long focused on using technology to support connected productivity, making them uniquely qualified to help during times like these. They have an extensive, frequently updated FAQ document that outlines how to build a comprehensive pandemic plan. Broadridge has also created a hub for COVID-related content to keep teams moving.
We’re all in an unprecedented moment together, but that doesn’t mean you should be left in the dark. We’re here to help.
Workiva also has put together a number of resources to assist you in adjusting to the new normal, including video guides and written help for accounting and finance teams, risk and compliance teams, and more.
We’re willing to bet that VSMs are going to be a part of the business landscape for a while but that doesn’t mean it won’t have its benefits.
For example, you never thought you’d be rocking sweat pants during a board meeting, did you? One last bit of advice: be sure to keep it all business on the top half.