Skip to content
News update

AGM 2023 Survey Results: Adapting to Change

Our recent member survey on 2023 Annual General Meetings offers valuable insights into the evolving landscape of corporate governance, particularly in response to the 2022 Corporations Act amendments.

Initially introduced as temporary measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, these changes to the 2022 Corporations Act now allow companies and registered schemes to use technology for AGMs and to communicate electronically with members.

Responses to the member survey came primarily from large, listed companies within the ASX 50 and ASX 51-200 categories with a number of unlisted entities, predominantly charities, not-for-profits, or companies limited by guarantee.

Here are some of the key findings:

AGM formats: The shift in meeting formats from 2019 to 2023 is clearly a result of the impact of COVID-19. While physical-only meetings dominated in 2019, hybrid formats have steadily gained traction, particularly since 2022, becoming the majority choice by 2023.

Attendance: Total venue attendance saw a significant decline during the peak of the pandemic, with a gradual recovery to about half of 2019 levels by 2023. Similarly, the number of proxies and shareholders at venues also experienced a notable decrease during the pandemic which has only partially recovered. Following the lifting of prohibitions on physical gatherings imposed during COVID-19 some companies returned to holding in person AGMs in 2023.

Online Participation: The pandemic accelerated the adoption of online participation, with a peak in 2020. While online attendance has since reduced, it remains substantially higher than pre-pandemic levels, indicating a lasting impact on AGM dynamics.

Shareholder Questions: Despite the availability of online platforms, sending questions in advance of AGMs remains the preferred method. However, there has been a gradual increase in the number of questions asked online, reflecting the growing integration of technology into meetings.

Material Distribution: While hard copy proxy/voting forms are commonly distributed, the use of hard copy Q&A forms is minimal, suggesting a preference for electronic communication channels.

This shift has had an impact on a number on corporate governance practices: some positive and others requiring greater consideration. For example, the flexibility afforded by the amended Corporations Act enables companies to tailor meeting formats to suit their needs and accommodate their shareholder preferences. With a review of the 2022 Corporations Act amendments scheduled for later in 2023, it will be critical to maintain this flexibility. The increased availability of online participation options presents opportunities for greater engagement of shareholders, removing geographical barriers and accessibility issues to enable broader investor involvement.

However, as technology continues to play a pivotal role in AGM proceedings, companies are encouraged to invest in robust digital infrastructure and protections to support seamless virtual participation and interactive shareholder communication, while minimising risk.

Governance Institute will use the results of the 2023 AGM survey to inform its advocacy during the review of the legislation later this year, as well as to provide material for our governance guides and other information for members.

You can download our joint guidance on electronic governance reforms here.

Leaning into Transformation: Governance & Risk Management Forum Empowers Leaders

Next article