In 2022 Link Group recorded a substantial demand for hybrid meeting services from clients, this is attributed to several factors that changed the meeting landscape in 2022 moving away from virtual solutions. The key factors that shaped the season included the permanent changes to legislation allowing hybrid meetings and the cease of relief on 31 May 2022 removing the ability to host virtual meetings irrespective of constitution. Effective, 1 June clients could only host their meetings in the virtual format if permitted by their constitution. Additionally, the decision to host a meeting in a hybrid format was deemed best practice in mitigating risks associated with items such as unplanned COVID-19 diagnoses and subsequent travel restrictions.
Many of our clients who held a hybrid meeting in 2022 recorded greater shareholder engagement when compared to the traditional physical meeting attendance levels in prior years.
Physical meetings rose from 27.6%, in 2021 to 55.91%, in 2022. This was an expected outcome as we came out of restrictions, with Boards and shareholders being able to attend face-to-face meetings again.
As a result of the other key factors which we examined above Link Group recorded an increase in hybrid meetings, from 11.09% in 2021 to 31.83% in 2022 and a decrease in virtual meetings by 49.05% in this reporting period.
Meeting Format by ASX index
Meeting Format by State
As a result of the passing of Treasury Laws Amendments (2021 measures No.1) Act 2021 all issuers holding a virtual meeting (wholly virtual or hybrid) need to include provisions for questions to be given orally, in addition to written format, at a meeting by the shareholder/member – refer SECT 249S (7) Corporations Act 2001.
Within the 2022 season, based on Link Group issuers holding either a hybrid or full virtual meeting, 98% of issuers did not have any phone participants registered throughout the duration of their entire AGM. The other 2% did have registered holders participate via phone. Overall, only 11 questions across these meetings were asked orally via the provided phone line facility. The Westpac AGM in December recorded 7 of the 11 oral questions submitted this year. This extremely low take up of phone line participation, in either registration or orally given questions, is interesting given virtual and hybrid meetings continue to be indoctrinated within the meeting framework.
It is understood that participants, while embracing technology-led meetings, do not see the requirement for orally given questions, and continue to prefer to interact with their Chair and Board through the written question option. Furthermore, attendance on the shareholder conference line was low with 90% of meetings having no attendees at all with no questions asked.
Although the legalisation has implemented phone line questioning as a mandatory requirement, it is becoming clear shareholders/members do not wish to participate through this method.
Please note, there is a requirement for an independent review, of both the temporary measures under TLAA and the permanent changes relating to virtual meetings, within two years of the Act’s commencement, given the trends on the use of phone participation and orally given questions Link Group welcomes the review.