Technology for Directors and Shareholders Meeting – The Virtual Meeting
As we have moved into the era whereas technology has remarkably advanced and have tremendously improved our lifestyles, it also becoming necessities to individuals and all the way to business operate in respective industries. The developing number of companies embracing modern technology to communicate and streamline their operations such as; video conferencing, teleconferencing and other kinds of virtual communication is rising in popularity. Therefore, it’s no longer necessary to travel long distances to make presentations, hold meetings and share project ideas. What it has to take; is the quality of VoIP system or a computer connected to the Internet. As we progress in our business, the ability to use technology to lead groups and teams as well as external resources will be valuable to the organisation. We are also witnessing the rise of new technologies that promote a flexible work culture and improve communication as towards these days; teams or an organisation in worldwide can share documents, hold online meetings and work together on the go.
The widespread of pandemic COVID-19 this year and the Movement Control Order (MCO) enforcement, Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) has made a move that could forever change the face of annual general meetings and giving green light to virtual stakeholder meetings in future. The foremost benefits of using technology with teams and groups is that it allows disparate groups of people with different schedules and locations to work effectively together by decreasing project completion times and costs; also, in providing real-time interactions among co-workers. Utilizing email, instant messaging video and phone conferencing, e-calendars, webinars and other technologies, they can eliminate travel time, scheduling conflicts and miscommunications. Technology proves to allow directors and managers to facilitate communication better among members of a team and reduces the time, as well as the expenses associated with group work. During this adversity, many Malaysia companies have been favouring virtual meetings, which can be done over the phone or via video conferencing, rather than the traditional in-person investor conference which consumes time, money and traffic constraint.
Ensuring Compliance of a Virtual Meeting
Here is some guide to ensure you meet the compliance of a virtual meeting for your virtual EGM:-
- Ensure on the reliability of the infrastructure to enable the conduct of a fully virtual general meeting including enabling members to exercise their rights to speak and vote at the meeting. The right for the shareholder to speak is not limited to verbal communication but includes other modes of expressions; such as real-time submission of typed texts.
- A proper guidance to shareholders / members on the requirements and method of participating in the general meeting by using the selected platform.
- The importance of a broadcast venue; the chairman must present on such venue. For instance, the lawyer office and not third-party office.
- An updated notice must include the agenda of the broadcast of a meeting; ensure the members are informed and accessible on the used-online platform for the meeting; all modes of communication must be expressed and stated as acceptable by the listed issuer in the notice of the meeting. This is to guarantee that in case of any technical glitch in the primary mode of communication, it can be supplemented by a secondary backup communication channel.
- Seek assigned authority consent to constitute a quorum of the meeting.
The Pros and Cons
Even so, holding a conference or meeting virtually it’s a double-edged sword in this industry. Here are the upsides and downsides of hosting a virtual meeting.
- People like Marketing and PR, design, engineering, sales and customer support jobs who serves as frontline of a company can work remotely and still deliver their jobs on time.
- Budget on expenses such as travelling and hotel reservation to conduct a meeting in person on certain scheduled venue; will be decreased drastically.
- Time-saving in road congestion to the meeting venue can be avoided.
- Saviour to the hassles on live conference such as; getting the room ready to check-in, the air ventilation and sounds system are working properly, special food & beverages are prepared and served at the right timing, etc.
- There is more control in scheduling meeting program almost down to the minute mark, which will not only save executives, shareholders and planners time but also help the company stay tuned.
- Virtual meeting or conferencing technology gives real-time interaction among co-workers, rather than back-and-forth emails which can lead to confusion and frustration.
- The absence of in-person meetings, a lot of collaboration could be lost and misinterpretation in communication. Stakeholders might not be able to ask as many questions or participate in the conversation as fully since virtual meetings tend to be a bit more structured.
- There will be less spontaneity or pro-active approach. While there are plenty of things that could go wrong at live conference, it also leads itself to spontaneity and creative thinking to solve issue arise at that moment. Spending multiple days with other investors and with the company executives permits people to interact with others they may not in any case have approached. This can create new partnerships, new ideas and help build investors’ trust and faith in the company.
- It will be less transparent. With that control the company gets, investors lose their ability to ask tough questions and keep on pressing their point. A lack of transparency could be good in short term for a company, especially if they are hiding less than ideal quarterly returns or cut corners, but investors can’t trust in a company blindly. Also, the truth always has a way of coming out sooner or later.