Virtual / Hybrid Shareholder Meeting Checklist

30 August 2021

The past year has been a meteoric rise of virtual and hybrid shareholder meetings across the world, triggered by the COVID-19 global health crisis.

In Australia virtual and hybrid annual general meetings have been given the thumbs up after new laws were passed in parliament recently allowing AGMS to be held electronically with pandemic conditions placing restrictions on face-to-face gatherings.

The new laws - extending temporary relief measures which allow AGMs - will provide some comfort to organisations as they head towards peak AGM season. But for many boards and organisations, making changes to the usual meeting routine can seem daunting.

So firstly, what do the changes mean?

The Treasury Laws Amendments Bill 2021 was passed by parliament on 10 August and means companies will be able to sign documents electronically, hold company meetings including AGMS virtually and companies may send notices of meetings to shareholders through e-mail or provide sufficient information to allow the recipient to access the notice electronically. 

These changes will only remain in effect until 31 March 2022. For more information on the legal implications see this article written by Holding Redlich

Virtual Meeting Checklist

To help companies Computershare has developed a Virtual/Hybrid Shareholder Meeting Checklist Built for Company Secretaries. This checklist combines Computershare’s decades of shareholder meeting experience across the globe, and 2000 virtual meetings in 2020 alone, with new recommendations. It helps Company Secretaries and other governance professionals prepare for a shareholder meeting that includes a virtual component or is fully virtual.

The checklist includes points on providing clear instructions on how shareholders can attend and participate in the meeting, and how they can submit questions.

Preparation is key, especially if you are holding a virtual or hybrid meeting for the first time. Preparation tips include: 

  • Ensure adequate training on the virtual platform for any board members, company representatives and contractors who will be actively working on or participating in the meeting.

  • Arrange for technical support staff to be present during the meeting in case technical challenges arise.

  • Rehearse the entire meeting with the individuals who will be actively working on the meeting. 

  • Ensure all individuals who will be actively working on the meeting have the required technology in place and set up to communicate with each other during the meeting. 

  • If the meeting will include remote hosts and presenters, confirm which directors and executives need to be on video and/or audio and test their technology and connections. Enable successful shareholder and third party proxy login 

  • Consider providing a simple user guide to shareholders and third party proxies, which details system and browser requirements as well as instructions for participating in the meeting. 

  • Allow attendees to login between at least 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the number of attendees expected to attend, before the scheduled start time to resolve connection issues.

The checklist also contains tips on voting, posting content, providing help for attendees and meeting proceedings.

  Computershare also says additional things to consider are:
  • Posting all questions received both before and during the meeting, and corresponding answers, on the company’s website within a reasonable period of time after the meeting.

  • Posting a transcript of the full meeting (including Q&A session) on the company’s website within a reasonable period of time after the meeting.

  • Providing a live video feed of members of management and the board. 

  • Extending the time of the meeting to answer questions submitted.

  • Consider providing a dedicated contact area/company’s website to allow shareholders to enquire about the status of the meeting. 

  • Consider if you wish to provide closed captioning or signing for the hearing impaired. Issue an electronic reminder, where possible, of the deadlines for submitting a proxy appointment and voting instruction.

    Download Computershare's checklist here