Marked by an upsurge in awareness and demand for corporate responsibility and sustainability, the significance of shareholder engagement has never been more pronounced. Through active shareholder engagement, organizations can forge stronger bonds with their investors, align their strategies with evolving expectations, and navigate the complex realm of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors. To shed light on the importance of shareholder engagement, we recently hosted a webinar, The Next Level of Insights in Shareholder Engagement, moderated by Amit Sanghvi, Global VP of Capital Markets Platform at Q4 Inc., and featuring panelist Joshua Black, VP Editorial, Diligent.
They began with a definition of engagement: grabbing someone’s attention, arousing curiosity, and creating emotional involvement. Amit highlighted the importance of measuring engagement from the shareholder perspective rather than just the effort put into engagement. He emphasized that the measure of engagement should focus on how engaged the other person is before taking a deeper look at the importance and types of shareholder engagement. In addition, it’s crucial to identify how you can enhance engagement by leveraging Engagement Analytics and utilizing technology for better results.
Importance of Shareholder Engagement
Amit explained that shareholder engagement is essential for companies to not only grab investors’ attention but also:
- Exchange information
- Receive feedback and learn
- Build a relationship
- Negotiate and persuade
He highlighted that in this sense, motivating ensures constant demand for your shares at the current price or higher and from investors who support your executives and strategy.
Types of Shareholder Engagement
Joshua explained that there are various types of shareholder engagement and highlighted a few, such as:
- Annual shareholder/general meetings
- Earnings/results calls
- Press releases, regulatory filings, etc.
- Roadshows/investor meetings
- Capital markets or investor days
He emphasized that these engagements require companies to be attentive to shareholders’ demands and actively participate in dialogue and communication to learn about their shareholders. The types of information you ideally want to know are:
- What do they care about?
- Do they understand our story?
- Do our perspectives align, or are we vulnerable to activism?
- How do they view our performance on factors such as ESG, valuation, execution of strategy, etc.?
- How do we know if our efforts to engage with investors are working, and what about us sparked and sustains their interest and curiosity?
Amit used the analogy of going on one date and your next being your wedding. He explained that is the reality from a shareholder engagement perspective. To change this, we need to shift left. The concept of shift left comes from the software development world, where when you deploy code, instead of trying to detect problems after the software is deployed, you try and look for them ahead of time. So, how does this apply to the capital market?
Enhancing Communication in Capital Markets
In the capital markets, effective communication is crucial. In IR, you must produce various forms of content, such as regulatory releases, media releases, and event invitations. Whether digital or hosted on platforms, this content generated valuable data exhaust, allowing for engagement insights and the creation of comprehensive profiles of individuals interacting with the content.
Leveraging Engagement Analytics
Engagement analytics offer the opportunity to capture information about interactions with digital content, enabling the profiling of individuals and driving actionable insights. You can tailor your approach by understanding who engages with content, how they engage, and what specific content they consume. Also, you need to proactively reach out to potential investors or research analysts and enter meetings with a deeper understanding of your audience. It is important to know whether or not they’ve already taken an interest in your company based on what type of content they’ve been engaging with.
Amit explained that although this may sound fictional, this level of analysis is now the next level of Engagement Analytics (EA) available to you from Q4. As shown in the image below, EA can not only show you how much interest and engagement a shareholder has had, right down to how many email opens, website visits, and events attended, but which individual from that company is attending the webinars, visiting the website, and more.
Shift left: Know your shareholders
Joshua explained that in partnership with Q4, once you have this data, Diligent can delve even deeper into who these interested individuals/investors are and provide you with an investor profile showing their voting policies, key personnel, their voting history (by proposal type, sector, and fund level). This information provides a vast granularity of data to help you understand who these key players are and how they think and operate.
Joshua highlighted that they can also do this for an activist investor. He shared that using this information can help you stay ahead with 3 key steps:
- Understand stakeholder behavior: Get insights on activist campaigns, voting outcomes, and proxy voting recommendations to optimize your position with investors proactively. Get clarity on ISS and Glass Lewis influence.
- Benchmark your governance: Benchmark your corporate governance practices and structure disclosures against your peers to assess your positions and effectively communicate with investors.
- Monitor market sentiment: Understand how news and media portray you on hot topics such as ESG, M&A, AGMS, etc. Stay abreast of development trends in your industry.
Utilizing Technology for Higher Expectations
The use of technology in the capital market can meet higher expectations. Similar to industries like Amazon, technology enables better and more fruitful connections between buyers and sellers. With deeper levels of insight, advanced analytics can provide information on who is engaging with content. This allows for a better understanding and transformation of traditional processes like 13F updates and surveillance, enabling you to identify hedge funds and their activities.
Before engaging potential investors, you must equip yourself with the most advanced tools and resources in your IR toolbox, including the right technology and strategic partnerships. By leveraging Q4’s Engagement Analytics and our established partnership with Diligent, you can ensure you have the most comprehensive support required to effectively communicate and engage with investors, leading to successful outcomes.