How to Leverage an Investor Relations CRM During Proxy Season
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Welcome to proxy season. The time of year when publicly-traded companies host annual general shareholder meetings (AGM) and vote on the most important issues facing issuers, investors and other stakeholders.

With a growing amount of shareholder proposals each year, proactive investor relations is more important than ever, as unprepared companies could face pressure from all sides.

So how can IROs effectively manage their organization's shareholder base and maximize their impact during proxy season? It all comes down to understanding who your shareholders are and having the right tools to do so. 

As you navigate your AGM this year, Irwin can support you and your IR strategy by:

  • Keeping track of the shareholders that have been voting at your AGM
  • Obtaining current and historical NOBO lists to monitor your shareholders increasing positions and who can vote at the upcoming AGM.
  • Tracking and monitoring the impact proxy governance firms' recommendations (i.e. ISS/GL) will have on institutional shareholder votes.

We’ve also included insights from Christine Carson—President & CEO of Carson Proxy—as she shares her expert advice on how proxy advisors can assist companies and what they bring to the table in terms of managing a proxy campaign with an IRO or General Counsel. 

How an IRO Can be Effective During Proxy Season

Proxy season is a critical time for publicly traded companies, as it marks the annual shareholder meetings where shareholders vote on important corporate matters. Falling in the spring, typically between April and June, proxy season is an opportunity for investor relations professionals to communicate with shareholders and provide them with the information needed to make informed voting decisions. 

See Also: Expert’s’ Top Tips for IR Storytelling and Corporate Communications

AGMs are important because they allow shareholders to have a say in a company's decision-making process. The outcome of the shareholder votes can significantly impact the company's future direction, governance, and financial performance. 

How a company conducts its proxy season and interacts with shareholders can also affect its reputation and investor confidence. To be effective during proxy season, IR professionals can take the following steps:

1. Preparation

Ensure that you clearly understand your shareholder base’s wants and needs, the proposals being put to vote, the company's position on each, and the reasons behind it. This will help you effectively communicate with your shareholders and address any questions or concerns. For best results, consider a proactive investor outreach strategy that gives you year-round insights into your shareholder base.

2. Communication

Develop clear and concise messaging that communicates the company's position on each proposal and the reasons behind it. Use various channels, including emails, webcasts, and telephone calls to reach out to shareholders and ensure they have all the information they need to make informed voting decisions.

3. Engagement

Encourage two-way communication between the company and its shareholders. Respond to shareholder questions and concerns promptly and professionally, and consider scheduling 1 x 1 calls or conference calls with your shareholders to provide additional information.

4. Transparency

Be transparent and provide clear and accurate information to shareholders. This can build trust and confidence in the company and enhance its reputation.

5. Follow-up

After the shareholder meeting, follow up with shareholders to address any questions or concerns they may have and provide a summary of the results of the voting

By following these steps, professionals can be effective during proxy season and help ensure that the company's interests are protected and that the shareholder voting process is conducted smoothly.

Understanding and Tracking Institutional Shareholder Voting

When reviewing your shareholder base ahead of an annual general shareholder meeting, it's important to consider the following factors:

Institutional Ownership

Identify any institutional shareholders and their voting policies. This information can help you engage with them and understand their perspectives on key issues.

Shareholder Engagement

Assess the level of engagement you have with your shareholders. Identify any gaps and find ways to increase engagement and build stronger relationships with your shareholders. Use Irwin’s Shareholder Monitoring tools to detect reporting and non-reporting shareholders.

Shareholder Demographics 

Identify your shareholders' geographic locations, industries, and sizes. This information can help you tailor your communication and engagement strategies to meet their specific needs and interests.

Shareholder Voting Patterns 

Review the voting patterns of your shareholders from previous shareholder meetings. This will help you understand their tendencies and predict how they may vote in the upcoming meeting.

Shareholder Activism 

Monitor potential activist shareholders who may be seeking to influence the outcome of the shareholder meeting. This information can help you prepare responses to their demands and address any potential challenges.

See Also: The Ultimate Guide to Shareholder Activism

Changes in Shareholder Composition 

Keep track of any changes in your shareholder base, such as new investors, reductions in ownership, or changes in institutional ownership. These changes can impact the outcome of the shareholder meeting and should be taken into consideration.

By considering these factors, you can better understand your shareholder base ahead of the annual general shareholder meeting, be better prepared to engage with them and ensure that the shareholder voting process is conducted smoothly.

A shareholder vote flow chart, created by Christine Carson and Carson Proxy.

The Importance of Shareholder Filings

Shareholder filings can provide valuable information that IR teams can leverage during proxy season in several ways, including:

  1. Identifying major shareholders: Shareholder filings, such as 13Fs, 13Ds, and 13Gs can help you identify your company's major shareholders and their ownership stakes. This information can help you tailor your communications and engage with these shareholders effectively.
  1. Understanding shareholder voting patterns: Shareholder filings, such as Form 4, can provide insights into shareholder trading activities, including purchases and sales of shares. By analyzing these filings, you can better understand shareholder voting patterns and identify potential areas of concern or opportunities for engagement.
  1. Monitoring activist investors: Shareholder filings can help you monitor activist investors who may be seeking to influence your company's decisions or strategy. By tracking these filings, you can identify potential threats and work to address any concerns that may arise.
  1. Tracking industry trends: Shareholder filings can also provide insights into broader industry trends, including changs in shareholder ownership and investment patterns. By monitoring these trends, you can better understand the competitive landscape and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Overall, leveraging reported shareholder filings during proxy season can help IROs better understand their shareholder base, identify potential risks and opportunities, and engage with shareholders more effectively.

How to Best Use an IR CRM’s Tools and Resources

With the assistance of an IR CRM, IROs can get transparency and insight into their shareholder base. For example, Irwin provides users with deep ownership insights including reported positions, NOBO data, stock surveillance, and custom holdings—all of which help users maintain relationships and regular communication with key shareholders.

Preparing for the Annual Shareholder Meeting

  1. Use Irwin’s custodian and proxy voting guideline tags (ISS & Glass Lewis) to anticipate and track institutional holder vote patterns.
  1. Access transfer agent reports once the proxies have been mailed to track daily voting by the custodian.
  1. Use the custodian tags in Irwin that have been pre-populated to match the large custodian votes with the institutional holders.
  1. Leverage Irwin’s insights such as holdings overview, investor style, geography, activist ranking, and more to better understand institutional holders and their voting style.
  1. Produce detailed institutional vote reports for C-suite executives and the board of directors.

Leverage NOBO Data

When an investor opens an account with a bank or a broker, they must disclose whether or not they object to being a beneficial owner. Those who choose to be non-objecting beneficial owners (NOBO) agree to have information such as their name, address, and share count provided upon request of the issuer. Objecting beneficial owners object to having this information shared.

Historically, companies have ordered NOBO lists during their AGM for proxy solicitation. However, NOBO lists are increasingly being used for shareholder monitoring and targeting. They are often retail investors but can also include family offices and funds. 

Did you know that a current shareholder is 9x more likely to increase their position than a new investor is to acquire a position? Having a line of sight to your non-reporting shareholders is crucial for running a successful IR program. 

NOBO lists can be an exceptionally valuable resource for IROs and their organization during proxy season. Here are some ways in which you can leverage NOBO data:

  • Targeted outreach: NOBO data can help you identify individual shareholders and their contact information. This information can be used to engage with shareholders directly, such as through one-on-one meetings, to address their concerns and answer any questions they may have.
  • Proxy solicitation: NOBO data can also help you identify shareholders who may have yet to receive their proxy materials or who have yet to vote. This can help you target your proxy solicitation efforts more effectively and ensure that all shareholders have the opportunity to vote on critical matters.
  • Analysis of voting trends: By analyzing NOBO data, you can gain insights into shareholder voting patterns and identify potential areas of concern or support. This can help you tailor your messaging and engagement efforts to address these trends and increase shareholder support for critical proposals.
  • Regulatory compliance: NOBO data is often required by regulators, such as the SEC, during proxy season. By maintaining accurate and up-to-date NOBO data, you can ensure that your company complies with these regulations and avoid potential penalties.

See Also: Why You Should Track Your NOBO Shareholders

Overall, leveraging NOBO data during proxy season can help IR teams improve their outreach and engagement efforts, increase shareholder participation in critical votes, and ensure regulatory compliance.

Did you know Irwin can automatically pull your NOBO lists and integrate the data into your CRM?

The Most User-Friendly Investor Relations CRM

All-in-all, IROs should be taking advantage of the benefits of an IR CRM—especially when preparing for proxy season. With the support of Irwin, IR teams can build strong relationships with investors and effectively navigate the complex tasks of managing annual general shareholder meetings, ultimately leading to improved shareholder value and company success.

Prepare For Proxy Season

Learn how Irwin's shareholder monitoring helps issuers stay ahead of proxy season challenges.

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