Annual general meetings (AGMs) lack popularity with private investors with nine out of ten reporting they “rarely or never” attend, according to the Association of Investment Companies.
The purpose of the meetings typically lie in informing investors of their activities and upcoming plans and voting on any necessary items. Despite the availability within most platforms allowing online voting for customers, 60% of survey respondents reported voting their shares “rarely or never”.
The AIC report surveyed 203 private investors over the summer on their participation within AGMs. It found that among those who rarely or never attended meetings, the primary reason listed was the inconvenience of traveling to the event.
While almost 60% chalked not attending up to transport, another 27% claimed not having enough time, 26% believed attending would make no difference, and 17% were simply uninterested.
Annabel Brodie-Smith, AIC communications director, said: “Our research shows that the main reasons for not attending AGMs are practical ones – a reluctance to travel or spare the time – rather than just a lack of interest.
“Around a third of investment companies now offer an option to attend their AGM online to boost participation. The AIC website lists upcoming meetings for every member investment company, including AGMs and shareholder presentations.”
This could signal a positive transition for the future of AGMs, as 65% of respondents recorded that they would be more likely to attend if the event was available through an online option. One investor interview by the AIC team claimed the online option could be a deciding factor for him.
“I do wish that more AGMs would be held by video, Teams meet, or something bigger than that because it would be interesting to actually hear what the leaders have to say and watch them answer questions,” the respondent said.
“I would enjoy that experience and I think I’d benefit from it, but to be in a big room in a hotel somewhere, I wouldn’t even consider it.”
Currently, only 4% of investors replied that they do attend a company’s AGM often.
The AIC is attempting to increase accessibility by holding links for those companies offering virtual options on their platform, and by holding a Shareholder Engagement Award, given to the fund which demonstrates positive shareholder voting practices, AGM participation, corporate interaction with shareholders about announcements, and the display of documents and data.
This year, the award was won by Interactive Investor.