THE ARRIVAL OF VIRTUAL AGMS
As businesses adjust to the shaky times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, corporate Malaysia has been encouraged to turn their annual general meetings (AGMs) into virtual events.
Some of us will welcome this change, some of us won’t. What is certain is that with the advancement of technology and globalisation in corporations, virtual meetings is a step towards a certain future that was perhaps, merely fast forwarded by the pandemic.
Regardless of circumstance, corporate Malaysia should be sitting up and paying attention to the ins and outs of a virtual AGM. Coordinating a virtual or even a hybrid AGM is similar to directing a movie whereby you select the main actors, scenes, script, as well as ensuring quality audio and visual. The mission is ensuring the ‘show’ is run as smoothly and efficiently as possible, while delivering the right messages to your audience.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Ensure a stable platform and practical setup i.e. feasible & user-friendly software, strong internet connection especially at broadcast venues. Technical support personnel should be present at the broadcast venue for any required assistance. For example, TNB recently announced a virtual AGM which will be conducted via a platform specialised for AGMs – Lumi AGM.
The right moderator makes a huge difference – A sharp, alert, unbiased moderator with a strong grasp on the organisation’s goals and objectives would be able to direct the conversation in the right direction.
Familiarity / Technology-savviness
All presenting parties should be familiar with the system / software to ensure smooth presentation and reduce lagging time.
Roles & SOPs
Clearly assign roles i.e. assigning Chairman / CEO as main and supporting presenter. Provide clear and direct instructions to ensure shareholders are well informed of the SOPs for their remote participation, questioning and voting.
Ensure time is allocated between main screen and alternative screens, well rehearsed and everybody is aware of the allocated screen time.
Portray a clean and polished visual – ensure that there is sufficient space and social distancing amongst the presenting parties.
Ensure there is good communications between the team on the screen and behind the scenes.
With the AGM season underway many, the Securities Commission (SC) has issued a guidance note for public listed companies (PLC) on the conduct of fully virtual general meetings. The guidelines include:
Virtual meetings should be conducted with as few individuals physically present as possible
There should not be more than 8 essential individuals physically present at the broadcast venue
This should include the Chairperson of the general meeting, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, company secretary, auditor as well as audio-visual support
Those present must observe all social distancing SOPs and guidelines as provided by the government
Companies can submit an application to the SC for a time-limited travel exemption for the essential individuals to travel to the broadcast venue for the fully virtual meetings
As we continue on in this era of social distancing, maximise the tools and channels that are still accessible to you. A good strategy and successful execution of AGM may go a long way in delivering your company’s messages to your shareholders.
Written by: Atiq Safirah (June 2020)