Link Market Services Australia AGM Season

Heading into 2021, we were optimistic that the restrictions impacting meetings would be behind us and we could move towards facilitating more hybrid and physical meetings. With the mini AGM season in April and May, we managed to execute some meetings in these formats, but before we could get too excited - New South Wales and Victoria were subject to more snap lockdowns, social distancing and travel restrictions.

Having undergone many of these experiences in 2020, we were equipped to pivot quickly and adapt to these changes.

Link Group’s proprietary virtual meeting platform won Digital Platform of the Year at the 2021 MAX Awards

AGM Legislation changes ahead of AGM season

On Tuesday 10 August the Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No.1) Bill 2021 was passed by the House of Representatives.

Before this announcement, several clients had held off on confirming their meeting format. The legislative changes delivered immediate certainty for the upcoming meeting season and provided much welcomed flexibility for many organisations still operating in regions affected by government-mandated restrictions. The new laws allow the use of wholly virtual and hybrid meetings together with and not limited to the ability to distribute meeting related materials electronically to shareholders and/or members under the extension of the temporary relief measures until 31 March 2022.

As an active industry stakeholder that is engaged with Treasury, we are committed to delivering better outcomes and thank clients for trusting us to advocate for change on your behalf.

With relief measures extended, planning became clearer, and we were able to offer guidance and support to our many clients and deliver successful meetings throughout 2021.

Virtual Meeting System Enhancements

Having successfully managed 393 virtual meetings in 2020, we received some valuable feedback from clients on the system and changes they would like to see in the future. Our ongoing commitment to delivering technology-led meeting solutions and ensuring premium user experience remains paramount. We are continuously enhancing the features of our award-winning Virtual Meeting Platform to elevate the experience for clients and securityholders. Our end-to-end solution can be customised to meet specific needs and budgets.

Platform enhancements to our proprietary systemin 2021 included:

  • Modernised securityholder experience with icons added to increase slide size or switch to full screen view
  • Enhanced Q&A moderator functions including reporting outputs
  • Increased branding opportunities
  • Improved download library facilities able to host up to six documents
  • Boosted mobile compatibilities for a more user-friendly experience
  • Enhanced question portal, such as a visual character count and the ability for the Issuer to tailor portal to allow up to 1,000 characters per question
  • Proxy Revocation and Corporate Representation functionality available and supported within an advanced registration environment.

Future Enhancements

We continue to enhance our platform as we gather feedback from clients - in 2021 we also conducted a study to understand how our clients are using the platform, especially in the moderator role. And to identify areas of opportunity to improve the platform and our services supporting it.

Overall, clients were satisfied with the moderator platform. They found it intuitive and easy to use and supported them in managing shareholder questions during their AGM.

Many clients noted that being a moderator is a highly stressful and time-sensitive role in the AGM. In 2022 we will work on making enhancements to alleviate this stress and improve the experience for the moderators and Chair.

Some key enhancements we are currently working on for the client include:

  • Visibility of attendees logging in including their name and capacity (holder/employee/proxy/guest)
  • List of attendees who get a voting card (proxy and holders)

This will give our clients more visibility as to whether they have a quorum and also to any persons of interest who have registered to attend.

Shareholder Phone Participation

Following the passing of Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No.1) Act 2021, all clients holding a virtual meeting (in either a wholly virtual or hybrid capacity) have included a phone line for verbal shareholder and/or member questions. Some key observations:

  • PIN Management included a prescribed cut off period for obtaining PINs prior to the AGM, while some issuers opted to allow access of PINs up to and during the meeting
  • Requests for PINs was low
  • Phone questions also remained low (with Commonwealth Bank and Westpac the exception).
  • All clients who used this function, offered verbal questions only – no transcribing services
  • The majority of meetings had no participants on the phone
  • We have had a few meetings where a holder has called into the phone line but has not raised their hand to ask a question
  • In some instances where a PIN was not requested and the cut off to request one had passed, clients were not included on the phone line the day of the meeting
  • Commonwealth Bank recorded 17 participants on the phone for their AGM
  • Telstra recorded 2 participants including the Australian Shareholder Association (ASA) representative on the phone for their AGM.

Discussion with the Australian Shareholder Association

After the AGM season, we met with a representative from the Australian Shareholder Association (ASA) to gather insights on shareholder sentiment regarding virtual and hybrid meetings, participation at meetings and the pandemic environment amongst other things.

Link Group has a strong relationship with the ASA and values their representation and passion for shareholder advocacy and good corporate governance.

We talked to them about the continued decline in voting before the meeting. They believe one of the key factors contributing to this decline in 2021 was due to holders who had relied on paper forms previously, not receiving these to jog their memory to vote. The pandemic meant that there were difficulties and significant delays posting and receiving items.

ASA monitors participated in a number of virtual meetings, and in most instances the ASA provided their questions to the company before the AGM. This was appreciated by many of our clients. Overall, a well-run meeting with regular technology was considered a great option. Monitors also appreciated the lack of travel time and not putting themselves at risk. Along with the positives of the virtual meetings, monitors still prefer a physical component as fully virtual meetings lack that engagement with the Board and key executives - for both the ASA monitors and holders.

A reliance on technology was also an issue as it requires a certain level of expertise and organisation. When it comes to logging in, holders may have difficulties because they don't have their Shareholder Registration Number (SRN) and/or Holder Identification Number (HIN) available. Therefore, there seems to be an increase in the proportion of guests attending, when that number may be attributable to shareholders. The ASA boils this down to a lack of familiarity with the multiple technologies over various platforms, and limited paper forms in circulation where the holder could find their SRN/HIN.

Virtual participation was recognised as a benefit to members who could not otherwise have attended a physical meeting due to location, health etc.

We asked what feedback they had received from their monitors and holders on the phone participation facility. ASA monitors preferred participating at the meeting online rather than via phone. From a reliability perspective, they felt more confident when they were participating online, with an expectation that a typed question is more likely to come up; with a voice question they didn't know when or if they will be called to speak.

Overall good feedback was received by the ASA from their members regarding the technology for phone participation, in that it's similar to a physical meeting where questions can be asked verbally, although once again, the uncertainty of how and when they will have an opportunity to speak is the reason why some do not utilise this option.

The ASA strongly supports hybrid meetings as its first preference, with the option to switch to a virtual meeting at the last minute as a backup. Holding a hybrid meeting is of benefit to the retail shareholder to engage virtually, if they have circumstances preventing attendance at the physical meeting.

At Company Matters, we are fortunate to work with over 400 clients each year, from S&P/ASX 20 entities to micro caps and not-for-profits. Accordingly, we have visibility over a diverse range of entities, across several sectors and industries and we manage and attend a large number of members’ meetings in our role as company secretary.

Previously, ahead of the 2020 AGM season (and pre COVID-19), we encouraged our ASX listed entities to consider how technology could be used to facilitate the participation of investors at AGMs.

At the time, this was largely driven by:

  • the release of the Fourth Edition of the ASX Corporate Governance Council’s Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations, in which the Council encourages listed entities with large or geographically diverse registers to consider this issue, including, for example live webcasting of meetings and hybrid meetings that allow investors to attend and vote in person, by proxy or online1; and
  • the increasing use of technology by boards, as well as the increasing comfort of boards with the use of technology.

As a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic and government restrictions, in place on public gatherings and social distancing (as well as travel restrictions), many companies had little option but to hold fully virtual members’ meetings in 2021.

We continue to reflect on the 2021 AGM season and consider what might lie ahead for members’ meetings in 2022.

Continued use of technology to facilitate meetings

Our team has been using technology to hold hybrid members’ meetings2 in Australia since 2016; however, our involvement in fully virtual members’ meetings3 in Australia was completely new in 2020 and we saw a continuation of this trend for the 2021 AGM season.

In 2020, fully virtual meetings were enabled by the Treasurer issuing the Corporations (Coronavirus Economic Response) Determination (No. 1) 2020 (the Determination), which expired in March 2021.

Although ASIC confirmed its “no action” position for virtual meetings, the Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No 1) Act 2021 (Cth) did not come into effect until 14 August 2021, which made early planning for the 2021 AGM season difficult due to uncertainty of the legal position, as well as the constantly changing government restrictions relating to lockdowns and physical attendance at meetings.

The temporary Corporations Act amendments allow meetings to be held in a fully virtual or hybrid format, if members as-a-whole have a reasonable opportunity to participate. The temporary amendments expire on 31 March 2022.

Looking ahead – permanent change

In October 2021, the Corporations Amendment (Meetings and Documents) Bill 2021 (the Bill) was introduced into Parliament.

In December 2021, the Bill which makes permanent changes allowing companies to hold hybrid meetings and use technology to execute company documents, sign meeting-related documents and provide those documents to their members, was introduced into the Senate with some minor amendments.

The Bill proposes permanent changes allowing fully virtual and hybrid meetings, however an important matter to note is that fully virtual meetings would only be allowed if permitted by the entity’s constitution (see below), or where a company is registered under the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012.

As noted above, the temporary Corporations Act amendments expire on 31 March 2021. This means that companies currently planning for the 2022 mini AGM season (specifically, companies planning to hold AGMs in April and May 2022) are once again facing regulatory uncertainty regarding the legal position of holding a fully virtual meeting, which is also exacerbated by the current high number of COVID-19 cases in Australia.

Even if the Bill passes in February 2022, there is uncertainty regarding how entities which do not have a constitution permitting fully virtual meetings, hold a meeting – especially if the number of COVID-19 cases in Australia remains high and people are hesitant about attending meetings in person.

Accordingly, it is not clear how most companies will proceed with holding members’ meetings for 2022, given the current uncertainty regarding the legal position in Australia.

Supportive of technology to allow flexibility relating to meetings

We are generally supportive of the use of technology to make it seamless for shareholders to interact with the companies in which they invest, as well as reducing costs to issuers and the positive environmental impacts that result.

In 2012, the New Zealand legislation was amended to permit a shareholder (or their proxy or representative) to participate in a shareholder meeting by means of “audio, audio and visual, or electronic communication” with approval of the Board of the company.4

We have been advocating for several years for similar changes to the law in Australia in relation to member meetings and technology to provide companies with the flexibility to adapt their meeting practices as appropriate at the time.

The amendments also expressed that voting may take place at shareholder meetings by “any method permitted by the chairperson of the meeting” and approved by the board.5 This amendment provides flexibility for companies to adapt shareholder meetings and voting to embrace technology as it develops.

While a hybrid or fully virtual meeting will not suit every company and shareholder engagement and/or participation may change from year to year, the benefits can be considerable, including:

  • the ability for companies to reach a wider shareholder base and engage with investors in real time regardless of geographic location
  • shareholders having the choice to select how they engage with the companies in which they invest, which is likely to see an increase in shareholder participation and engagement
  • a potential reduction in costs to companies and environmental impacts — which in turn are beneficial to all investors and the community.

Continued focus on director re-elections and accountability

Historically, many entities viewed director re-elections as “non-events” which were often passed with nearly unanimous support and few questions from investors.

Like trends we have observed in recent years, we have continued to see an increased focus on individual director re-elections and accountability, particularly in underperforming organisations with poor financial results or governance issues. In addition, director accountability has extended to the organisation’s response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, along with receipt of JobKeeper.

There were several protest votes against director re-elections, specifically where the director was a long-standing director who was part of the board in place at the time of the poor performance and potentially had the ability to influence and approve certain outcomes or at least should have been aware of certain issues during that time.

The recent AGM season has also shown that some investors are willing to extend their “against” votes to organisations which are not necessarily the target of the “against” vote. If directors, who are up for re-election, are also directors of other entities, which are in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, investors may vote against the director’s re-election even if the entity itself is not experiencing significant issues. Again, while not a new issue, overcommitment and workload of directors remains a focus of investors and proxy advisors, being popularly referred to as “over-boarding”.

Continuing from trends in recent years, we observed a higher level of engagement between directors and investors at several meetings. We also saw investors asking directors (subject to re-election) to address the meeting and outline the benefits and attributes they would bring to the board composition and an increase of questions being asked by investors regarding director re-elections.

Remuneration remains front and centre

It will not come as a surprise that remuneration matters continued to dominate several AGMs.

Some of our clients who have historically received almost unanimous support for their remuneration reports, had “no” votes creeping close to a strike or indeed received a strike.

2021 also saw the continued trend of using the remuneration report to express discontent not only relating to remuneration related matters but extending more broadly in relation to a company’s general or financial performance.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) matters

Like in recent years, there was an ongoing focus on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues. Consistent with trends from recent years, there is an increasing focus on sustainability and climate change risk, with expectations of greater or more comprehensive disclosure of ESG approaches and initiatives, including metrics being incorporated into remuneration.

In 2021, investors, proxy advisors and special interest groups continued to use shareholder resolutions as a way of drawing attention to certain issues and to use the AGM as a platform to agitate for change.

Constitution amendments

In 2020 and 2021, several companies proposed resolutions to amend their constitution to allow the use of technology to facilitate the calling and holding of hybrid and virtual meetings.

This was an important issue, given the difficulty faced by companies planning for their 2021 AGMs, when the legal position was unclear until August 2021. This is likely to continue to be an ongoing issue.

As noted above, under the proposed permanent changes to the Corporations Act, companies may only hold fully virtual meetings if a fully virtual meeting is expressly permitted by the entity’s constitution.

This means that, unlike the temporary provisions that were in place in 2020 and 2021, entities will not be able to rely on the Corporations Act to hold a fully virtual meeting once the provisions of the Bill commence (unless further temporary measures are introduced).

Accordingly, several companies put a special resolution (requiring at least a 75% vote in favour of the resolution) to members at their 2021 AGM to allow the company with flexibility moving forward to hold fully virtual meetings.

A number of these resolutions were met with strong push back from several proxy advisors who recommended voting against the constitutional amendments. This resulted in some companies withdrawing or amending the resolution or the resolution not passing.

A key consideration for companies in 2022 will be whether constitutional changes are required, specifically in relation to meeting format and in readiness for CHESS replacement.

In many cases, issuer constitutions limit the number of registered joint holders of a security to three joint holders and this limitation may need to be removed or amended in line with the CHESS replacement project, which will allow up to four joint holders of a security.

At this stage, ASX is targeting a go-live date of April 2023, which means many constitutions will need to be amended prior to this date.

If amendments are required, companies will need to consider whether to put forward suggested constitutional amendments as one resolution or split the resolution, given the potential push back regarding virtual meeting constitutional changes.

1 ASX Corporate Governance Council’s Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations, Fourth Edition, commentary on Recommendation 6.3, page 24.

2 A hybrid meeting generally refers to a general meeting where shareholders (and proxy holders) are able to participate (including to vote and ask questions) at meetings either at a physical meeting (similar to a traditional meeting) or online (for example, by using a computer, iPad, tablet or smartphone to participate in the meeting).

3 A virtual meeting or online meeting generally refers to an online only meeting where shareholders (and proxy holders) can view and hear proceedings, vote and ask questions online and there is no physical component of the meeting.

4 New Zealand Companies Act 1993, Schedule 1, clause 3(b); clause 14(1)(a).

5 New Zealand Companies Act 1993, Schedule 1, clause 5(2).

We hear from Alex Zhou, Senior Associate at Orient Capital, Link Group's specialist in-house campaigns team.

The remarkable victory by Engine No.1 over Exxon showed that shareholder support for ESG concerns remained resolute in 2021. Investors both domestic and abroad have continued to be active in their advocacy for rigorous outcomes and increased ESG focus at public companies.

Globally 2021, was another banner year in shareholder activism with 173 new campaigns launched, down slightly from 184 in 20201. Much of this activity was concentrated on the fourth quarter, with 50 new campaigns being initiated in that period. The United States continues to expand its lead in shareholder activism, accounting for 55% of all global activism in 2021, up from 45% in 2020.

Among the ASX 200, there were 29 shareholder filed ESG resolutions in 2021, down from 36 in 2020. Whilst the volume of resolutions was lower than the previous season, the aggregate level of support from the retail and institutional shareholder base has risen considerably. Average support for shareholder backed ESG resolutions in 2021 reached 30%, up from 15.5% in 2020.

Commitment to addressing climate change remains the dominant issue amongst ESG concerns, with 51.7% of ESG resolutions filed by shareholders in the ASX 200 related to climate action. This will continue to be on the agenda in line with the focus of sophisticated institutional investors such as Vanguard, State Street Global Advisors and Blackrock around climate action. Australian companies were encouraged to demonstrate tangible commitment to climate action and disclosure in the season.

This focus on action was notably epitomised by the Say-On-Climate campaign in 2021, which saw a number of major Australian companies, including Rio Tinto, BHP and Woodside voluntarily adopt non-binding resolutions on climate action following engagement with their stakeholders.

A return to normality or another year of virtual meetings?

Due to the persistent impact of Covid 19, public companies have increasingly turned to ‘virtual-only’ shareholder meetings. However as vaccination rates have risen in the developed world, there is a growing sentiment in countries, such as Australia, to return to some semblance of the pre-Covid way of doing business.

In 2020, the main proxy advisors in Australia (ISS, Glass Lewis, and Ownership Matters) were supportive and made allowances for virtual-only meetings, as necessities during the Pandemic. However by the end of 2021, these same proxy advisors have all caveated or clarified proxy voting polices to provide more nuanced guidelines to assess how companies convene their meetings.

ISS for instance, adopted a policy where they will recommend against the company should they preclude in-person participation at shareholder meetings. Similarly, Ownership Matters and Glass Lewis have both indicated that companies need to provide pathways for shareholders to participate at meetings.

Evidence for this shift in policy can be found in the difference in recommendation made by the Proxy Advisors on amendments to company constitutions, which included provisions which could enable virtual-only meetings. For the first half 2021, only 62.5% of amendment to constitutions in the ASX 300 received an against recommendation on this basis, compared to 75.7% in the second half of the year. Furthermore, in H1 2021, only ISS made against recommendations, but by H2 2021 all three advisors were adopting recommendations against amendments to constitutions on the basis of virtual only meetings. Concordantly, this change in guidance was also reflected in voting results, resolutions of this type received on average 89.11% support in H1 2021, compared to 83.14% in H2 2021.

With the rapid rise of the Omicron variant in Australia and abroad, public companies may once again have to contend with another year of virtual only meetings to ensure the safety of their shareholders. What remains to be seen is whether the proxy advisors will account for this in their recommendations or will there be a further reversion to the mean.

Re-evaluating remuneration for a changing world

For the campaigns our Orient Capital team supported on, we noted a 9.4% increase in the number of superannuation funds voting against remuneration resolutions when compared to 2020, and a slight 3.8% increase from investment managers against votes on remuneration resolutions.

Across ASX 300, 26 companies received a strike, similar to what was seen in 2020. Of these companies, we observed 9 issuers receiving more than 50% against the Remuneration resolution, compared with 21 in 2020 and 3 in 2019.

The level of against votes was also significant, the highest of over 65% against the remuneration compared with a high of over 62% in 2020.

Progressing towards better board oversight, composition, and diversity

Director scrutiny continued to be a focal point in 2021. Our Orient Capital campaign data indicated an overall increase in votes against the election of management-nominated directors compared to previous years. For 2021, superannuation fund support for management-nominated directors decreased by 3.5% compared to 2020.

Conversely, there was a minor increase in support for management-nominated directors of 1.3% by investment managers during the same period. Areas of concern related to director elections were consistent with previous years, with director independence, board composition and diversity, and over-boarding enduring as the main themes.

Meeting the new expectations of growing ESG consciousness

The role and influence of proxy advisors continues to be substantial, with Glass Lewis, ISS and Ownership Matters having the largest influence on Australian-listed entities. Investors continue to subscribe to proxy advisors and reference their data when voting. However, with variable sources of other information, a negative recommendation does not guarantee a strike.

Our data suggests that there has been a change in the trend regarding the influence proxy advisors hold when recommending that shareholders vote against the remuneration report. Between 2020 and 2021, data indicated that on average, when proxy advisors make recommendations to vote against board’s recommendations, Super Funds will not follow those recommendations on 69.1% of occasions (3.7% decrease from 2020), and investment managers will do so in 88.7% of cases (1.6% decrease from 2020).

Proxy advice regime overturned

On 17 December 2021, in response to concerns over the independence of proxy advice within Australia, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg enacted reforms designed to improve accountability and increase transparency in the industry.

Under the new regulation, proxy advisors had their Australian financial services licences stripped, and had until 7 February 2022 to apply for new ones under amended conditions.

However, three days after introduction, on 10 February 2022, the Senate overturned the regulations on proxy advisors dropping the new laws.

The reforms would have forced proxy advisors to supply a copy of their proxy advice or research report to companies on the same day as their clients or be subject to heavy fines that could number in the millions.

The regulation also required that proxy advisors must be independent of their institutional clients, which would have forced the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), whose members include many of Australia's largest superannuation funds to radically change the way they function.

While the government maintains that the reforms would have brought greater accountability in the Australian proxy advice industry, critics argued that there was little need for further regulation, given that Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC), have only received 13 complaints for 3 separate proxy reports since 2018.

Likewise, the federal opposition questioned the way in which the regulation was expedited, citing a lack of parliamentary discourse and insufficient stakeholder consultation. Labor, the Greens, minor party's and the rest of the Senate crossbench supported a motion to veto the regulation.

1 Lazard (2022), 2021 Review of Shareholder Activism, Lazard Capital Markets Advisory Group, 19 January 2022, view PDF

Link Group posed some questions to Dean Paatsch, the Director of Ownership Matters, regarding the recent Treasury reforms on proxy advice in Australia in December 2021 and the subsequent overturning of the laws in February 2022.

1. The rationale for the government's reform to proxy advice in Australia was to address accountability, transparency and independence. However, critics to the reforms argued there was little practical basis for these concerns. What are your thoughts on the Treasurer's rationale for those since overturned reforms?

The rationale beared no relationship to the reforms enacted. Proxy advisors were already accountable to their clients, companies could access free copies of their reports and the conflict-of-interest provisions in the AFSL regime guarantee independence. The reforms were a bizarre attack on the business model of proxy advice - imposing $11.3 million fines for failing to send an email record of a verbal conversation with a client, appropriating our intellectual property and even going as far as to limit who could own shares in our business, who we could hire or associate within professional networks.

2. Due to the muddled consultation process and haste by which the regulation was originally passed, some critics (yourself among them) pointed out that these reforms were poorly planned and likely unworkable. Are you able to elaborate on why this was the case?

The regulations were a drafting catastrophe. For example, the Treasurer claimed that one element of the reform was to ensure independence between advisors and their clients. However, the rules did not require that the entities we were banned from associating must or must not be in a client relationship with us. Whoops! The junior burgers who wrote them got a bit carried away - they wanted to ban us from interacting with "any entity that makes decisions affecting the exercise of voting rights".

If anyone has any idea what this means, please let us know as we will be awarding a prize for nearest the pin. The authors had such a poor understanding of the proxy advisory industry their suggested rules inadvertently banned the production of custom research, which is tailored to the needs and policies of individual clients. Government intervention in the contractual relations between consenting adults who are sophisticated investors is not the sort of thing you would expect in Canberra.

3. There was parliamentary opposition to these reforms, and they were ultimately overturned in the Senate. But if they had stayed in effect, what challenges would the regulation pose for the Australian proxy advisory industry in 2022? And what impacts would it have had on the quality of proxy advice heading into the 2022 season?

Ownership Matters applied for its licence on 23 December 2021, six days after the new decree came into effect. ASIC were on holidays until 10 January 2022 and recently advised us we might get feedback in the week of 31 January 2022, days before the new regime came into play. We abided by the law and continued our business model to the same high standard that we have always set for ourselves.

The uncertainty to our operating model was unfortunate but a deliberate exercise of political power designed to inflict damage on the Government's perceived enemies - none of it made sense. The main risks were the ridiculous fines for inadvertent contravention of the new rules. It was absurd that an administrative slip up such as not sending an email with a copy of our advice to a listed company we have no contact details for could have bankrupt our company with $11.3 million fines and attract personal penalties for me of $1.3 million for each offence.

Meeting ecosystem

The meeting ecosystem can be divided into 6 phases.

  1. Meeting preparation
  2. Meeting announcement or notice of meeting
  3. Proxy voting phase
  4. Meeting
  5. Results and outcomes
  6. Post-meeting assessment/internalisation

While the ecosystem can be visualised as a circle, with post-meeting assessment looping back into meeting preparation – it’s more accurate to visualise it as a spiral with the post-meeting assessment/internalisation step as the setup for the next meeting preparation stage of the following cycle.

There are 3 broad classes of stakeholders in this ecosystem with further subcategories within.

  1. Corporates (i.e., management, employees, board, etc.)
  2. Investors (i.e., super funds, index funds, retail investors, etc.)
  3. Third parties (i.e., regulators, proxy advisors, public, etc.).

These stakeholders act on, and are acted upon, by each other at varying stages within the ecosystem. For example, corporates engaging with investors during the meeting preparation stage, or third parties such as proxy advisors providing research to super funds during the proxy voting phase and so on.

Some stakeholders are only active in select stages of the ecosystem (i.e., proxy advisors) vs. others (i.e., board of directors) that are persistently active throughout the entire cycle.