In 2020, it’s not as easy as it once was for organisations to hold an Annual General Meeting that gives all stakeholders an equal chance to attend.
In Australia, the Corporations Act determines how you must hold your AGM, with a requirement for listed companies to hold an AGM within 18 months of registration, and at least once a year.
Specific documents must be presented, including: the annual financial report, the directors’ report, and the auditor’s report, and the AGM also provides an opportunity for investors and stakeholders to question the board.
If your organisation operates nationally, or throughout Australia and New Zealand, crossing state and national borders is a huge problem in the era of the Coronavirus pandemic. Even if your state currently has open borders, there’s no guarantee that won’t change suddenly, depending on COVID-19 transmission levels.
Limits on the number of people that can attend physical gatherings persist in order to reduce risks associated with spreading the virus at face-to-face events.
There is also the additional planning needed to create a safe and secure environment, with adequate social distancing, safe and secure registration and voting procedures, and low-risk catering arrangements.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has enabled businesses to continue to operate within the law during the COVID-19 pandemic by authorising the holding of virtual AGMs using the relevant technology. This opens the door for a large number of organisations to run their AGM online, if permitted by their constitution.
The new guidelines allow corporations to hold virtual-only AGMs within seven months of year-end for entities with a balance date of up to 7 July 2020 — and this may be extended further. The most important considerations are to provide members with the opportunity to be fully informed about the organisation’s operations, to participate as much as possible (including the option to ask questions live, to provide comment or participate in debate during the AGM), and to vote via poll technology.
Stakeholders with unstable broadband connections, those who are mobile or on the road, and members who may be based in rural and regional areas must have an equal right to participate, not only by following proceedings, but also by having the ability to comment, ask questions and, of course, to vote.
Redback can help your organisation make your most important annual meeting more accessible than ever — by helping you hold a virtual AGM.
Here are some of our top recommendations for ensuring all your stakeholders have an equal chance to participate in your professionally delivered virtual AGM:
1. Go live online:
Live-stream the event using virtual conferencing or webinar technology to provide all stakeholders and board members with the opportunity to attend the event, no matter where they’re located — keeping travel costs down and avoiding COVID-related travel and safety issues
2. Offer a teleconference:
Include an integrated audio teleconference service so mobile or regional and rural stakeholders that may not be able to connect via broadband can dial in by phone
3. Opt for local support:
Provide a 1800-number and local assistance online so that any attendees that may be having trouble connecting on the day can access technical support
4. Prioritise security:
The Redback platform is secure to ensure only registered attendees can access the event and vote
5. Offer proxy voting:
If required, we can accommodate proxy voting to enable participants to cast votes in advance
6. Assign your roles:
Have a moderator, speakers and someone to monitor voting and questions over internal chat to ensure the agenda stays on track, all questions are given equal attention, important issues are addressed, and voting runs smoothly
7. Broadcast from a studio:
Film your AGM from a broadcast webinar studio with built-in redundancy and technical support for a professional, business-like look and feel, and an additional level of technical production support on the day
8. Pre-record some video:
To maximise the professional look and feel of your event among your audience of stakeholders, members and investors — and to provide some variety for viewers — you may wish to pre-record the chairman’s address. It’s also a good idea to record a snippet about an important upcoming initiative to play so your audience has something to watch while voting is counted
9. Train your presenters:
Train presenters and speakers on the platform you’re using, test the broadband connection of any remote presenters ahead of time to ensure stability
10. Test your format:
Do a dry run with all the technology running to ensure familiarity with questions, comments and voting mechanisms during the event, and also to check that the agenda flows well
11. Make it available on demand:
For anyone that is unable to attend at the live time, make a video of the event available online on your website so they can watch it whenever it suits them.
Contact us on 1800 733 416 today for a free quote and we will help you manage your virtual AGM.