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What is a Virtual Meeting?


Virtual Annual Meetings (or Virtual Shareholder Meetings) are increasing in popularity and growing numbers of companies are adopting this online AGM method of communicating with their shareholders.

However, making the switch to move your Virtual Annual Meeting after years of traditional annual meetings involves a change of mindset and a number of changes.

Annual meetings have traditionally been hosted in a physical location, to allow stakeholders to directly engage with the Board, and ultimately hold them to account. However, with companies’ shareholder and membership bases becoming increasingly global and diverse, legislation has been changing around the world, to enable remote attendance at meetings


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Introduction to Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings are already well-adopted in many countries across the globe. All the attendees of a virtual meeting attend securely, using authenticated login credentials, via an online platform, allowing them to ask questions, vote, and participate electronically in real time, as they would do at a physical meeting. This removes the need for everyone to be in one location, making it easier and more cost-effective for shareholders to attend and engage with the meeting and the board.

A number of factors are affecting the rise of both virtual and hybrid meetings, although they differ from country to country. Here’s a couple of the major overarching factors for the rise in popularity:

Technology - Most industries have seen dramatic changes to how they operate as a result of technological advances. The first hybrid meeting was held in 2001 in the United States, but hosting, or partly hosting annual meetings online has only come into the mainstream in the last 5 years or so.

Inclusivity - Making your meeting available to everyone who wants to attend, without the constraints of travel or cost, helps to make
your organization more customer-focused.

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2020 was defined by the frenetic scramble to move online, as organizations looked to safeguard business continuity amidst an unprecedented pandemic that shook the business world to its core. As a result, everything that could move online did go online, including annual meetings, where organisations switched their traditional in-person annual meetings to a hybrid (a mix of in-person) or virtual (online-only) AGMs.

Those that have made the switch already know the value to their organisation of a hybrid or virtual AGM, but one of the most common questions we are asked is how much does a hybrid or virtual AGM actually cost?

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How to hold successful Virtual Shareholder Meetings

Virtual Shareholder Meetings (VSMs) have been becoming more and more popular over the last few years as new digital tools and platforms for virtual meetings have become available. These days, virtual options for business-critical events like Shareholder Meetings or AGMs are a necessity. It is imperative to most organizations that they find effective ways of meeting with and gathering feedback from shareholders, whatever the global situation.

So how do you make sure that your VSM will be just as engaging and productive as an in-person meeting, if not more so?
The first thing to do is make sure the technology is up to scratch. Not only do you need reliable platforms for meeting and providing feedback, but you need those platforms to be secure and fully auditable. It also needs to support engagement functionality like voting, Q&A and speaker queueing. Lastly, the onboarding and setup should be simple and effective so that you can focus on the event’s content instead of technical logistics.

What are the benefits of Virtual Shareholder Meetings?
In addition to being a viable option in times of crisis and geographical limitation, VSMs present a number of benefits to aid organizations who adopt them. For one, virtual events present enhanced accessibility options, allowing attendees to access the meeting on a device and in a manner that best suits their needs. This inclusivity will make your meeting more effective by engaging all of your shareholders, not just those who can comfortably attend in-person events

Additionally, the cost of Virtual Shareholder Meetings is often far less than in-person meetings. The technology is often comparable to what is already required for in-person meetings, and travel and venue costs are eliminated entirely.

Lastly, virtual meetings can actually be more engaging than in-person VSMs. Procedures for voting, raising topics and asking questions are often clearer and less intimidating, and high-quality VSM platforms like Lumi are easy and enjoyable to use. Users actually cite an increase in engagement for VSMs that follow these best practices.


4 reasons why your AGM should go Virtual

In The Room vs Hybrid vs Virtual

Organizations are increasingly looking to combine different formats of meetings, to enable people to attend online alongside in-the-room attendees. Our free infographic will help you understand all of the differences between an in-the-room only meeting, a hybrid or virtual meeting.

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It’s Really Not That Different

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We won’t disagree with you, the technology for a virtual meeting is complex. But it’s the SAME technology that runs most of your in-room meetings. All of the core software will continue to power your online meeting – and any polling - and will manage the Q&A and reporting in the same way. In fact, if you always have the same Lumi Operator at your event, he or she can still run your virtual AGM for you as well.

The Lumi technology has been developed over 20 years, it’s used by many of the major transfer agents and registrars across the world, and it runs thousands of AGMs every year. This makes virtual a simple add-on, it really isn’t any more complicated than a physical, in-room only meeting.

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Joining a virtual meeting is as simple as accessing a web page, or using an app on a mobile device. The use of mobile is ubiquitous – mobile ownership is now greater than that of desktop – and its functionality is simple to use. So whilst your Board and the Chair might need to take a bit of time to make sure they are comfortable with how it all works, your shareholders and members will find it simple and straightforward.

In addition, our virtual microphone and moderated Q&A software means your virtual meeting will arguably run even more smoothly than an in-room meeting, which could always be subject to shareholder or member activism, or heated debate between participants.

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This is another myth. There are multiple measures in place to keep a virtual AGM secure, from tight security protocols to secure, cloud-based networks. The security of any AGM is paramount, and our systems are regularly PEN tested by independent third parties to ensure there are no vulnerabilities within the platform.

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Virtual meetings offer the same transparency as an in-room only meeting, ensuring that there is still a forum to hold the Board to account, and to build the necessary trust between the Board and the Shareowner. The technology already exists, and is being used every day, for attendees to submit questions and comment. This can be done by simply typing those in, they can be moderated, or not, as required, they can even be displayed to the rest of the audience which can promote further discussion – rather like a shareholder standing and speaking in the room. And, of course, its still possible to allow for verbal questions – using speaker queuing technology. This all speaks to the concepts of trust and transparency.



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Engaging with your shareholders is more than just a regulatory obligation; it’s central to good corporate governance. Lumi has more than 25 years experience of supporting AGMs around the world, and we run thousands of in-room, hybrid, and virtual meetings every year. Let us bring our extensive experience to your next AGM for a seamless attendee experience.

The technology for virtual meetings is just too complicated

Untitled design (19)

We won’t disagree with you, the technology for a virtual meeting is complex. But it’s the SAME technology that runs most of your in-room meetings. All of the core software will continue to power your online meeting – and any polling - and will manage the Q&A and reporting in the same way. In fact, if you always have the same Lumi Operator at your event, he or she can still run your virtual AGM for you as well.

The Lumi technology has been developed over 20 years, it’s used by many of the major transfer agents and registrars across the world, and it runs thousands of AGMs every year. This makes virtual a simple add-on, it really isn’t any more complicated than a physical, in-room only meeting.

My shareholders or members will find it too difficult to participate in a virtual AGM

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Joining a virtual meeting is as simple as accessing a web page, or using an app on a mobile device. The use of mobile is ubiquitous – mobile ownership is now greater than that of desktop – and its functionality is simple to use. So whilst your Board and the Chair might need to take a bit of time to make sure they are comfortable with how it all works, your shareholders and members will find it simple and straightforward.

In addition, our virtual microphone and moderated Q&A software means your virtual meeting will arguably run even more smoothly than an in-room meeting, which could always be subject to shareholder or member activism, or heated debate between participants.

A virtual meeting isn’t secure

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This is another myth. There are multiple measures in place to keep a virtual AGM secure, from tight security protocols to secure, cloud-based networks. The security of any AGM is paramount, and our systems are regularly PEN tested by independent third parties to ensure there are no vulnerabilities within the platform.

The Board can't be held to account

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Virtual meetings offer the same transparency as an in-room only meeting, ensuring that there is still a forum to hold the Board to account, and to build the necessary trust between the Board and the Shareowner. The technology already exists, and is being used every day, for attendees to submit questions and comment. This can be done by simply typing those in, they can be moderated, or not, as required, they can even be displayed to the rest of the audience which can promote further discussion – rather like a shareholder standing and speaking in the room. And, of course, its still possible to allow for verbal questions – using speaker queuing technology. This all speaks to the concepts of trust and transparency.



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Engaging with your shareholders is more than just a regulatory obligation; it’s central to good corporate governance. Lumi has more than 25 years experience of supporting AGMs around the world, and we run thousands of in-room, hybrid, and virtual meetings every year. Let us bring our extensive experience to your next AGM for a seamless attendee experience.

Evolving Virtual Shareholder Meetings

While there has been a steady evolution of greater digitalisation/dematerialization in AGMs and shareholder meetings over the last couple of decades, the move to so-called virtual meetings has generated a lot of attention. The US has led the way, but other regions have seen growing interest, including adoption in the UK and Canada, as well as garnering the support of the Australian Shareholders Association. In the US, the format is commonplace (see figure 1), and the debate has moved on from whether or not to run a virtual meeting but rather how to run a virtual meeting. 

There are questions from both investors and issuers about how this format can facilitate good corporate governance while at the same time, allowing issuers to maintain control and ensure the meeting runs smoothly.

There has been a perception that the virtual meeting format is a trade-off between either giving issuers the ability to kill the meeting or giving investors, both retail and institutional shareholders, the opportunity to hold company boards to account.  Lumi’s view is that you can have your cake and eat it too.  Both of these objectives can be accommodated through virtual meetings as well as positively impacted and improved.

In a virtual or even a hybrid meeting, it is possible to facilitate more sophisticated approaches to voting and discussion in an easy-to-manage way.  The question for the industry is to reach agreement on what should be the best practice.  This may be different from country to country but some of the principles will be universal.  Computershare’s white paper looks at how virtual and hybrid shareholder meetings and AGMs are being adopted in different markets around the world.  Lumi is the main provider in many of those markets to the world’s leading transfer agents, registrars and end users.

Additionally, in expansive geographies like the US, Canada and Australia, or even where there is cross-border ownership, there are also of course cost and logistical benefits. For the issuer, they are obvious – venue rental, catering, security, staging, as well as Board travel time.  The same is true for other stakeholders, whether that be shareholders, proxies, guests or press. No longer is a whole day required to navigate one meeting; institutional investors for example can now ‘attend’ multiple meetings on any given date, especially given the seasonal nature of AGMs, and bypass travel time and the related expense. With mobile ownership now surpassing that of toothbrushes, the ubiquity of smart devices furthers that convenience – an AGM in your pocket, if you will. With an estimated 97% mobile ownership among millennials and Gen-Xers, is there also an opportunity to harness this technology to involve a typically hard-to-engage demographic in corporate decision making?

Lumi has decades of experience in providing digital tools to improve a whole range of meeting types and events.  As well as providing for authentication, webcast access and proxy voting and balloting protocols, technology can enable the mainstay of shareholder meetings, the Question and Answer session, to be more interactive, improving the quality of the questions from a wider base, while at the same time giving meeting organizers the tools for moderation and control to ensure the orderly conduct of the meeting. Indeed, a physical-only meeting is limited in its demographic of attendance because of logistical and cost factors. Far from restricting discussion between shareowner and board, a virtual element can make the debate far more relevant and open. Warren Buffett for example has reporters moderate Q&A at his huge Berkshire Hathaway stockholder meeting, often dubbed Woodstock for Capitalists; couple that kind of innovative approach with broad-reach virtual technology, and the contention could soon be whether access and transparency, and thus good corporate governance, is actually hampered by a physical only meeting.

What is the difference between electronic voting and Virtual AGM and voting?


When we talk about our technology solutions at Lumi, we sometimes refer to “electronic voting,” and other times we use “online voting.” So what is the difference?

To learn more about either of our digital voting solutions, or to learn how to combine the two to ensure accessible and effective hybrid meetings, contact a member of the team for expert advice!

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Electronic voting

Electronic voting is at the heart of what we do. It involves moving from a manual paper-based to an electronic solution. This allows for better maintenance of the AGM voting procedures, including more accurate results, better tracking and analytics, and more secure and accessible processes. Electronic voting refers to the applications and technology used to facilitate the vote rather than the location of the participants, and it usually involves in-meeting technology like our dedicated handsets or kiosk voting solutions

Online voting

Online voting, however, is all about location. In virtual and hybrid meetings, participants need to be able to vote remotely, and online voting is the way that is facilitated. The background applications and processes may be the same, but the voting takes place online via web- or desktop-based applications instead of physical handsets or kiosks. It still offers the reliability and audit trail of electronic voting, but it happens in a different context.

Take Your Meeting Online

 new generation of investors is more aware of issues such as the importance of good governance, tackling climate change and addressing social issues. And they think that the businesses they invest in should play their part. Meanwhile, new rules give investors more influence over how companies are run.

Companies are under growing pressure to listen more to their investors and other stakeholders and take their views into account. Companies need to respond to these changes and find ways to engage more with their investors. That means annual meetings are more important than ever as a way for shareholders and companies to talk to each other, but AGM voting procedures and other processes must be adapted to account for changes in expectations, both internal and external.

New digital technology allows you to do this more effectively, with virtual and hybrid meetings presenting one of the biggest opportunities in this area.

Virtual shareholder meetings (VSMs), which are becoming increasingly popular, are meetings where participants attend via an online platform that allows them to ask questions, vote and participate electronically in real time, as opposed to travelling to the physical meeting. A hybrid meeting offers the option for remote participation alongside the physical meeting. This online option opens up your meeting to shareholders around the world who can’t attend in person preserving the ability of the shareholder to pose questions to the companies they own, while also making the meeting far more accessible to the vast majority of shareholders who are unable to attend physically.

Holding AGMs in one physical location can limit the engagement of that meeting. With Lumi’s Virtual AGM technology, shareholders can log in to the AGM remotely from anywhere. They can watch proceedings, have their say and use electronic voting from the comfort of their own homes, in the office or while they’re travelling for business.

Virtual and hybrid meetings offer exactly the same transparency as an in-room meeting, ensuring that there is still a forum to hold the board to account. Virtual attendees can use tried and tested technology to ask questions and comment on proceedings. Written questions can be displayed to all attendees to promote further discussion, just as if a question was asked in person by a shareholder in the room, while it is also possible to allow attendees to ask questions live using speaker queuing technology. The tech also makes it easier and quicker to access records of the meeting.

In an era where meeting attendance has been in decline, the virtual or hybrid meeting can reignite enthusiasm among your shareholders, as well as increase transparency and accountability. Now is the time to take your meeting online.

Are Virtual Shareholder Meetings Secure?

One of the most common questions we get about Virtual Shareholder Meetings, or VSMs, is whether or not they are secure. When you bring your meeting online, whether strategically or as demanded by circumstance, cybersecurity moves to the top of the agenda.

However, cybersecurity concerns aren’t unique to virtual meetings. Anytime technology is utilized, security measures must be introduced to maintain the integrity of the attendees, the meeting and the activity that takes place. That’s why Lumi uses advanced cybersecurity measures to ensure the success of all its meetings, not just virtual ones.

Some of the measures we use to ensure the security of VSMs include:

  • Anti-hack platforms
  • Advanced permissions and access protocols
  • Secure cloud-based networks
  • Authentication and credential processes

As a shareholder, you would receive unique usernames and passwords, along with a secure authenticated login. This provides peace of mind that when you cast your vote or share your thoughts, they are upheld by the system so they can be counted and actioned accurately. You can also rest assured that no unauthorized attendees can disrupt the proceedings or access the results and feedback.

Our priority is creating secure, reliable applications and platforms. These work to uphold the important processes that comprise successful shareholder meetings and make it easier to follow up on shareholder input.

Do members actually want virtual AGMs?

When considering whether a virtual AGM is right for an individual association or member based organisation, many meeting planners end up asking these questions:

  • Is this what the attendees actually want?
  • Will people actually show up for a virtual AGM?
  • Is it worth changing how we do things if it will actually not improve anything?

It’s not enough to make such a big decision on anecdotal information. Major changes to how your meetings operate should be based on data, not speculation. That’s why we commissioned a survey of  7,000 members across the globe to determine how they feel about the associations that they are members of, and about how online meeting options might affect those relationships.

In this research, we found that an average of 53% of respondents indicated that online meetings would make them more likely to participate. Notably, this was the case regardless of attendance barriers – from time and distance in countries like Australia, to a lack of trust in the organizations in countries like Singapore. Even (especially) those who trust their organizations to do the right thing said that they would be more likely to participate if online options were available.

The study also concluded that young people and women were more likely to express distrust in their organizations and a subsequent desire to be involved.

Virtual AGMs not only allow for the kind of access that would appeal to these members, but it also ensures that they feel valued and like their opinions matter to their organizations.

 

Want to transform your next meeting?


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