We’ve been talking to Peter Eyre from Lumi Technologies regarding their Jimmy Choo Mobile AGM and what it means to them and the wider industry.
Q: So, What is it and How was the idea born?
A: Mobile AGM has been in the Lumi pipeline for a number of years now. We see the technology as a supplement to our existing AGM software which has been used (globally) since 2003.
Both the meetings and the events worlds have transitioned to a predominantly mobile approach over the past five years or so. We are now seeing a similar enthusiasm for mobile from the AGM market. Companies are increasingly asking for the technology and registrars are eager to be able to meet those needs.
Mobile was seen as the natural successor to the Connector (electronic polling handset) but until recently the world of AGMs has appeared to be resistant to change.
That’s less the case today as the benefits of mobile AGMs become ever clearer. Not only does the approach make meetings more accessible for shareholders, it also does so for company directors. It’s a ‘win win’ – and now that mobile devices and internet connections are so widespread, and trust in them is almost universal, there are few barriers. Added to this, mobile AGM technology removes the need to hold a physical meeting, thereby reducing cost and carbon footprint. That’s important because organisations cannot afford to be seen to be wasteful.
Lumi can offer either fully virtual or hybrid meetings, with results made available instantly. ‘Hybrid’ might either simply mean there are people using both polling/voting handsets, and people using their own mobile devices (BYOD), or the same, plus people also voting remotely through their mobile devices or PCs.
It was always part of the plan to transition clients and attendees as they become ready, rather than making a complete wholesale switch and run the risk of excluding some people. However, what this has done is open more meetings up to being electronic that were previously still run using paper polls.
The move to mobile AGMs additionally gives Lumi the chance to expand into meetings that we wouldn’t have previously been involved in (typically smaller meetings, those with likely low shareholder turnout and new IPOs).
In presentation terms, the mobile AGM approach is effectively a smarter, more efficient alternative to using a paper poll card. It also effectively offers better corporate governance by opening the reach of the meeting to all shareholders, large or small, institutional or retail investors.
Increasingly too, the traditional single location physical meeting can be seen as outdated. In a world of global shareholders and globally-based directors, technology is now capable of engaging every investor, no matter where they are based.
Q: What were the challenges involved with staging it?
A: This was the UK’s first electronic AGM held by a listed company, so there were issues of legal approval and other legislative barriers to overcome – and the fact that it was such a landmark moment effectively added further pressure.
There were also issues with shareholder perception, primarily due to existing demographic that attend meetings.
There are other logistical obstacles to overcome. Physical meetings provides a safety net for immediate, face-to-face support. That’s less true of electronic meetings. Moreover, an electronic meeting must provide the same accessibility and opportunity that attendance at a physical meeting does. That means putting authenticated registration in place and effectively safeguarding the ability to vote and ask a question.
The AGM market remains slow-moving today. It is still difficult to change meeting processes even though many of our global markets allow digital meetings and have done for a number of years.
Finally, in the world of mobile AGMs, there is no room for start-ups ‘having a go’. These are highly important meetings that must be robust and reliable, fast, secure, auditable, have failovers in place, and be regularly updated for new legislation. That’s where 15 years’ experience comes in handy!