March 16, 2020

Make the most of your virtual shareholder meeting with Say

Say Team

Introduction

With the current uncertainty around COVID-19 (coronavirus), many public companies are choosing to hold this year’s annual shareholder meeting online instead of in-person. Recently, the SEC staff has put out guidance for conducting shareholder meetings in light of COVID-19. This presents a unique set of challenges (and opportunities!) and we’re happy to help you navigate these uncharted waters.


SayConnect is the ideal service to help field questions from your shareholders ahead of your virtual shareholder meeting. Provide your management, board of directors, and investor relations team with clear insights on the key issues your shareholders are focused on. 


Want to get started right away? Click here.


Current Trends

There’s been a lot of talk between companies and investors about whether “going virtual” is the right move. Regardless of what side you’re on, the numbers show that virtual-only and “hybrid” (virtual and in-person) meetings are on the rise. In 2019, 248 public companies held virtual meetings, up 17% from the year before. (1) 

Many companies have already demonstrated their desire to switch to virtual meetings. Due to coronavirus containment and mitigation efforts, the list of firms considering going virtual is growing. We've included some of the companies that have already made the switch.

Microsoft is one of the bigger names to recently move away from an in-person meeting. The company has noted that half as many shareholders attended their most recent live shareholder meeting compared to 5 years ago. (2)


Whether your company is moving to virtual meetings permanently, moving to a “hybrid” model, or looking for a virtual alternative due to coronavirus concerns, Say is here to help.

Why use Say?

Say enables a productive channel of communication between companies and shareholders ahead of Annual Shareholder Meeting, earnings calls and investor days.


SayConnect gives IR, management and the board of directors valuable shareholder intelligence on the key priorities leading up to an important event.


One of the main concerns with virtual meetings is that there will be fewer opportunities for individual investors to participate, given the lack of an in-person Q&A session. The concern isn’t that the meeting is online, it’s about transparency. Shareholders want to be able to hear from other shareholders and ensure that management answers questions on the most important topics. 


By using Say, you are able to efficiently address the top questions from your shareholder base while keeping your meeting organized and efficient. SayConnect verifies share ownership, lets investors ask their own questions, and allows investors to support questions submitted by others. The best questions are ranked highest, making it easy for management to address the most relevant topics.


Example experience flow with Say

Step 1: Company adds a link from Say to their proxy statement

Tip: Adding a link to Say on your IR Website and promoting it on social media will increase engagement and promote transparency.


Step 2: Verified shareholders submit questions and upvote other questions they support

Step 3: Present Say during your shareholder meeting webcast


Answer the top questions live at the meeting and/or in writing afterwards. Questions that were answered will be updated with the response, and shareholders who upvoted the question will be notified. Even shareholders who can’t view the meeting live are able to participate in the meeting process. 



How to get started

1. Fill out our contact form

2. We’ll send you the link to your virtual meeting Q&A from Say

3. Include that link in your messaging to shareholders (proxy statement, press release, IR website, etc.)


If you need web hosting capabilities for your annual meeting, we can help you find the right solution.

Helpful resources

DLA Piper outlined some helpful for virtual annual shareholder meetings. We particularly recommend the breakdown of what to do if you’ve already called your meeting or if you’re on the verge of doing so.

DLA Piper: Considerations for virtual annual shareholder meetings in light of the coronavirus


In 2018, Anne Sheehan and Darla Stuckey, Co-Chairs of the Best Practices Committee for Shareowner Participation in Virtual Annual Meetings, put together some principles and best practices for virtual shareholder meetings, summarized on the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance. There are a bunch of helpful tips whether you’re brand new to virtual meetings or been hosting them for years.

Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance: Principles and Best Practices for Virtual Annual Shareowner Meetings


PricewaterhouseCoopers put together a quick guide on what boards should know about virtual meetings. In addition to being a quick read, it has a helpful list of questions the board should ask themselves.

PwC: Virtual shareholder meetings – What boards need to know


About the Author(s)

Austin Ash has been working at Say since July 2018. He is involved in nearly all facets of Say’s business, including business development, marketing and communications, and operations.

Contact him at: austin@saytechnologies.com 


Michael Kaufman has been working at Say since August 2018. Before working at Say, Michael spent four years working at FINRA in their Member Regulation Technology department. He now runs the product team at Say, and is an expert on both regulated and unregulated investor communications

Contact him at: michael@saytechnologies.com 

Citations

1. PwC: Virtual shareholder meetings - What boards need to know

2. Microsoft spokesperson: Make Companies Go Virtual With Shareholder Meetings