Global shareholder AGM engagement hits record high in 2022, reveals Lumi

Kerry Leighton-Bailey, Director of Shareholder Engagement at Lumi

New research data released from Lumi, the global specialist in delivering compliant shareholder and member Annual General Meetings, reveals shareholder engagement and attendance at AGMs worldwide reached a record high in H1 2022. Analysing over 4,700 meetings, the Lumi data shows the average number of shareholders per meeting more than doubled in the first half of this year, a 134% increase compared to the same period last year.

Engagement at AGMs has reached record levels with the average number of messages being sent in meetings growing 25% compared to H1 2021. Virtual and hybrid meetings continue to be the most popular and engaging format in 2022. 65% of AGMs in the first half of this year were run virtually, 22% were hybrid and only 15% took place completely in-person. 

What is the motivation behind this engagement?

“The shareholder voice is louder than ever and we are seeing the highest levels of participation and engagement we have ever seen. In particular, we’re pleased to see more retail shareholders and a wider demographic of younger, engaged investors interested in attending AGMs.” said Kerry Leighton-Bailey, Director of Shareholder Engagement at Lumi.  

“One of the key drivers for this new group is that they increasingly want their voices heard on issues such as ESG, pay or diversity at AGMs. The last few years has seen a rise in socially conscious and environmentally minded shareholders – now over a quarter of retail shareholders say they bought shares in companies because they believed in or cared about them, rather than looking for a quick return on investment,” Leighton-Bailey further said.

“Engaging with this group of engaged shareholders will be crucial to the success of the AGMs of the future and we’re beginning to see many organisations take this group seriously.” 

Leighton-Bailey continues, “To meet the new demands of an engaged shareholder group and the questions they have all year round, many organisations are also thinking beyond the AGM to IR events. This provides an engaged group multiple opportunities to have their voices heard throughout the year and can also enhance voting outcomes, thanks to a better perception of transparency and a sense of personal connection with board members.”

How are virtual meetings evoking engagement?

“Another key driver for increased levels of attendance and engagement is the flexibility of hybrid and online AGMs. Many shareholders might have been excluded from AGMs in the past by the meeting location, the time of day they’re held or even accessibility issues,” she said.

“Once you take away the barriers of how people get there, we’re seeing AGMs open up to an even wider demographic that is keen to participate. Virtual or hybrid meetings also see higher levels of engagement and attendance compared to solely in-person events,” she added.

“The Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) latest report on best practice for company meetings encourages businesses to embrace hybrid meetings so it’s really encouraging to see the industry moving in the right direction when it comes to widening participation,” she said.

“Whilst engagement up, there still remains a huge problem in the industry. The challenge is making sure everyone who owns shares is able to access the AGM. Some investment platforms make it easier for shareholders to vote by proxy, but it can still be difficult to navigate this – with the majority of shareholders not realising that they can’t easily attend.”

“There is still significant work needed to simplify the chains of complexity that stand between the underlying owner and the holding company, and until then vast numbers of shareholders will continue to be cut out of attending meetings, no matter what the format,” she concluded.