Monday, 30 July 2012

Electronic voting for AGMs becoming a reality

In previous posts I have done on corporate governance I have lamented the fact that voting was so difficult and archaic.  In fact I believe that it is  one of the primary reasons that retail shareholders do not vote at company meetings and AGMs

I always found it strange that the option was not available to vote online.  After all, you could trade online, change the way you receive your dividends online so why not vote.  It was only going to be a matter of time before the shareholder registries caught on.

Then for the first time last week I noticed that computershare, the largest shareholder registry had the option to vote my Macquarie shares online.  I was absolutely ecstatic to see that.

However the system has a fair way to go
  • There are only a few companies that have adopted the online voting concept so far and while I applaud these early movers I suspect that it will be a fair while before it is commonplace.
  • The biggest issue so far though is that you can only appoint your proxies through the electronic voting process. 
    • Remember proxies vote on your behalf and how they see fit. From what I could see there was no way for shareholders to vote on each resolution.  This is the next step.
The next step is convincing retail shareholders to vote
  • Now that the ability to vote is there, the next step is convincing retail shareholders that it is in their best interests to care about what happens at these meetings and that voting is an essential part of maintaining their investment.
  • This is the truly hard part and involves a combination of both education and empowerment
I'm not sure if there is a golden bullet or solution but I DO know that the person that solves this problem will leave an indelible mark on the finance and corporate world as we know it

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