AGMs are the often-lost opportunity for investor engagement

Communications, ASX, Engagement, Investor Relations

Gerard 17 Aug 2022
2 mins
Shareholders in a darkened room watching an AGM presentation

The AGM season, across October and November, is approaching fast and with it the debate over the value of these formulaic annual shareholder meetings.

It costs time and money to hold what many corporates describe as an annual box-ticking exercise. But opinions, however strongly held, are largely irrelevant. For the time being, the AGM is here to stay.

So why not make the most of it?

Institutional investors have access to many stand out events on the yearly conference circuit, including The Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum.

For the ‘mum and dad’ investors, the AGM may be their only opportunity to speak to, and ask questions of, the people in control of the companies they are invested in. 

Unlike the big end of town, retail shareholders do not get the same attention lavished on them by company leaders, even though they – en masse – can have a significant impact.

Given the sharp downturn in equity markets at the tail end of the just completed financial year and the serious headwinds of cost inflation, labour shortages, geopolitical instability and economic uncertainty, a refined corporate narrative – delivered with a reassuring, empathetic and engaging voice – is more important than ever.

For chairpersons, MDs and CEOs, the key to a well-received presentation is – simply put – preparation. So practice, practice, practice.

Think of the AGM as an event with two parts – the mundane formalities followed by an engaging update to shareholders on the company’s year and the future outlook. Try to promote curiosity from the floor.

A strong presentation will showcase the company’s strengths, wins and milestones but also address concerns, shortcomings and market sensitivities.

Also, consider that your AGM may be just one of many that the individual retail shareholder attends.

Do not underestimate the endearing power of a Nespresso pod machine and a tray of fresh pastries to replace the Blend 43, urn and tray of Monte Carlos – particularly if increasing executive pay packets during tough times.

In preparation for the AGM, here are five more things to consider:
  1. How accessible is the AGM meeting venue? Is it easy to find, is nearby parking available and does it cater for shareholders with accessibility challenges?
  2. Are there enough seats, is the lighting appropriate and the sound quality good?
  3. Does the webcasting service work? Do microphones and cameras work? Has the system been double and triple-checked? Is tech support on hand to help if things go pear-shaped?
  4. Most importantly, are you ready to sell your story? In fact, do you have a story to sell? Re-fresh the corporate narrative, modify it to suit the retail shareholder audience – tell the story, spell out the vision and sell it with passion.
  5. Finally, stick around and get to know shareholders. Don’t finish the formal part and hide near the lectern with fellow directors. Make introductions, or reacquaintances, with the people whose investments you are held responsible for.

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