Around 44 percent of the almost 2,000 AGMs facilitated by Lumi in the first half of the year were virtual – the most popular format.
This compares with 35 percent that were held in a hybrid format and just over a fifth (21 percent) that were in person.
Lumi says the number of virtual meetings has grown by 9 percent on the same period last year.
‘Early signs show that hybrid meetings will surpass 2022 by a significant level,’ it states in its half-year AGM report.
The meeting provider adds that 25 percent more hybrid meetings were facilitated in 2023 than in 2021.
While Lumi facilitates AGMs the world over, 41 percent of the meetings covered in the report were in Europe and the UK. This is followed by 16 percent in the US and 15 percent in Asia.
‘Skyrocketing’ attendance in Asia
Lumi’s data suggests rapidly increasing comfort levels among Asian investors when it comes to virtual and hybrid. Pre-pandemic, the region was notable for its hesitance.
‘The average number of shareholders attending virtual and hybrid meetings in Asia skyrocketed to 436 per meeting, a remarkable 111 percent increase from the 2022 average,’ Lumi says, adding that ‘this can be attributed to an increased demand for online participation’. These figures are far ahead of numbers seen in Europe for example, where average attendance per meeting reached 239.
Higher attendance at virtual and hybrid meetings in Asia also translated into greater use of Lumi’s in-meeting messaging platform: 5,475 in the first six months of 2023, followed by Europe and North America with 2,840 each for the year so far.
In Europe, Lumi says the number of guests using the online platform to participate in meetings was up 30 percent during the first half of the year compared with the entire year of 2022. ‘One explanation for this is the growing number of investor relations meetings [we are] increasingly facilitating in the region,’ the company says. ‘For this meeting type, the platform is made accessible to investors without the need for authenticated shareholder access.’
Overall, however, Lumi says the number of written messages being sent through its platform has decreased – something it puts down to new tools that allow participants to send audio and video messages.
Proxy season themes for 2023
Writing in the report intro, Peter Fowler, Lumi's chief operating officer, describes this year’s proxy season as one marked by ‘division and polarity’.
‘The pendulum has swung from turbulent economic conditions for most, to record profits for others, and, unsurprisingly, this sense of disparity is reflected in the themes of the first half of the AGM season,’ he writes. ‘The narrative of AGMs has increasingly been influenced by the cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation and an uncertain geopolitical landscape’.
ESG and executive pay
More than two fifths (42 percent) of shareholders look to join an annual meeting to make their voices heard on the issues they are passionate about, according to Lumi, with the firm saying few issues ‘attract as much attention’ as ESG. It notes ethnicity and gender equality reporting requirements at the London Stock Exchange, the 951 ESG-related shareholder proposals put forward in the US between July 2022 and May 2023 and the rise of pressure group Climate Engagement Canada as indicators of the continued spotlight on ESG.
More specifically, Lumi also notes the scrutiny around executive pay. ‘Despite the cost-of-living crisis, pay for FTSE 100 chiefs has risen by 12 percent [from 2021 to 2022],’ it says, adding that compensation has also been on the radar in Australia.