Annual General Meetings had to be conducted virtually as a part of the Covid-19 preventive measures. This resulted in a decrease in attendance for Singapore listcos by 70% compared to 2019.
There are a number of factors that could have contributed to this. Some of the shareholders may not be digitally savvy. In addition to unfamiliar technology, some members may be discouraged to attend due to the inability to have live question and answer and voting.
Majority of Singapore’s listcos postponed their meetings in accordance with regulations that allowed a 60 day extension. Another observation was that the virtual meetings were seemingly shorter compared to meetings held physically in 2019. This should not come as a surprise as shareholders were asked to submit their questions ahead of the meeting and there was no need for poll counting time. There is also cost savings due to the absence of a physical venue.
On the flip side, virtual meetings come with the lack of ability to clarify shareholders’ concerns and/or discuss opinions etc. together with the potential issue of technical glitches.
Even though the idea of holding hybrid meetings has been floating around for awhile now but it hadn’t been experimented with in Singapore until the pandemic hit. Most companies were forced to take steps to allow for virtual meetings. With this experience and technological expertise, it should be much smoother for companies to transition to a hybrid model.