In 2021 Link Group assisted with 75 member meetings, 14 annual member meetings and 20 ballots.
Annual Member Meetings
Following the Treasury Laws Amendment Bill 2019 requiring superannuation funds to run Annual Member Meetings (AMMs), Link Group assisted with facilitating 14 of these meetings during 2021 using our virtual meeting technology. Funds included Telstra Super, Maritime Super, Suncorp Super, AMP Life, Qantas Super and Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation.
Many funds had hoped to run face-to-face meetings in 2021, after running their first ever annual member meetings 2020 virtually, but similar to countless other company meetings, COVID-19 restrictions resulted once again in virtual AMMS. Customised microsites were created for the majority of these AMMs, with one of the main focal points the collection of RSVPs, which greatly assisted with anticipating expected attendees. Of members who responded to the RSVP, an average of one third attended the actual AMM.
Microsites proved to be a great way to store and communicate the relevant AMM information to the members leading up to the meeting.
AMMs generally consist of presentations from the Board and fund managers, providing key insights and updates on investment performance. To reduce the risk of technical difficulties, many of these presentations were pre-recorded and followed by a Board and Senior Management Q&A session held via a live video webcast on the day, to answer members questions through the online platform.
Member Meetings and Ballots
2021 was another busy year for Link Group with 75 meetings and 20 ballots held for a range of member organisations including Dairy Australia, Regional Australia Bank, Australian Institute of Company Directors, NRMA, RACQ, RACV and CPA Australia.
The bulk of these clients held virtual meetings, however Murrumbidgee Irrigation held a physical meeting in Leyton (NSW) when the travel window for regional NSW opened up, while CPA Australia and RACQ were able to host hybrid meetings.
Link Group also ran WoolPoll 2021 - a poll that Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) is required to conduct every three years. Woolgrowers are asked to vote to determine what percentage of wool income they would like to invest in research, development, and marketing undertaken by AWI. This was a preferential vote.
Many of our member organisation clients have members located in rural or regional Australia who experience long delays with mail packs. As a result, email communications are the preferred option, and are sent to all members who provide their email address. The lengthy periods for members receiving hard copy communications meant that in some cases there was a delay of several weeks for receiving packs and returning voting forms.
As with voting for listed entities, voting rates for these meetings and ballots also declined in 2021, despite a number of reminder emails.
Virtual Meeting Case Studies
Case Study: The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL)
The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) New South Wales branch is a member-based charity comprising of 340 subbranches providing support to veterans and their families, and connecting veterans in need to an array of services provided by its partner charity, RSL LifeCare.
With the impacts of COVID-19 still apparent, to deliver the AGM and Congress in a familiar format, Link Group was appointed to work alongside RSL NSW to assist in organising and delivering multiple virtual meetings over the course of two days in December 2021.
Due to the anticipated 8-hour duration of the AGM agenda, sessions needed to be split over a morning and afternoon period with a break for members in between.
On the day of the AGM over 40 motions were moved for vote. Delegates were able to participate in the meeting in various ways including logging into the online platform to observe and listen to the many presentations which included the President’s address and Acknowledgment of Country and the Act of Remembrance and addresses by the Governor of NSW - Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, the Chief of the Australian Defence Force - General Angus Campbell, and Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs - Major General Elizabeth Cosson, AM.
RSL NSW ensured that Delegates had the opportunity to dial into a conference call facilitated by Link Group to listen to the proceedings and actively participate in the debate of the motions. Throughout the day, Link Group reported that 20 delegates successfully connected to the conference call facility, with 13 of those delegates engaging in actual debate at the meeting and speaking to the motions being presented.
Day two of Congress commenced with an acknowledgement of 80th anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbour and a minute of silence was conducted to acknowledge fallen comrades. Delegates were able to log into the virtual meeting with the ability to submit written questions through the online platform at any stage of the meeting, this time with the absence of voting and a dial in phone facility. Delegates actively participated in submitting 52 questions for the Executive Leadership Team. RSL NSW committed a significant amount of time in answering the Delegates’ questions during the open forum.
Engagement was strong with over 250 participants on both days successfully connecting to the meeting platform.
The meeting was supported by Link Group’s Events team which included dedicated meeting experts and onsite technicians ensuring the meeting was secure and of the highest quality.
Virtual Meeting Case Studies
Case Study: Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC)
With the Your Future, Your Super Treasury Laws Amendment finalised, and all Superannuation funds required to hold an Annual Member Meeting (AMM), the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic drove Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) to find an alternative solution when planning their AMM.
CSC hosted their first ever AMM utilising Link Group’s award-winning virtual meeting technology in March 2021 to successfully conduct a fully virtual meeting for their 700,000 strong member base in multiple schemes. AMM requirements are different to those applying to an AGM of a publicly listed company in that they do not have voting or motions. They are instead viewed as a welcomed opportunity for fund members to hear from the board of directors and ask questions about important topics such as fund performance and operations within the business.
CSC’s notification of the Annual Members Meeting to their customer base was particularly well received, with over 3,652 registrants expressing their interest to attend online.
CSC in partnership with Link Group, engaged in weekly meetings in the lead up to the member notification, as well as weekly meetings in the lead up to the event itself. These valuable planning sessions and demonstrations of the virtual meeting technology provided CSC with comfort around what Link Group would contribute to such a large project. A rehearsal was additionally facilitated the day prior, which proved to be a positive experience and provided the board with the support they needed prior to the live event.
CSC opted to host their AMM using pre-recorded presentations from their Chair, CEO and Chief Investment Officer, with their Chief Customer Officer, Peter Jamieson introducing each pre-recorded piece live and offering insights in between presentations as well as a live Q&A session at the end.
The virtual AMM was held from CSC’s Head Office in Canberra, with the board of directors, executive team, auditors, actuaries, members and staff in attendance; albeit complying with social distancing measures.
Members and visitors who had pre-registered online received confirmation emails and reminders in the lead up to the event, which included their unique registration number and instructions on how to access the online meeting.
Members were offered the opportunity to submit pre-registered questions; a total of 259 questions were received in advance with a further 107 questions submitted during the live meeting.
On the night, 862 participants tuned in to watch and listen to the video proceedings and utilise the functions of the platform whether asking questions or downloading materials.
The meeting was supported by Link Group’s Events team which included dedicated meeting experts and technical specialists onsite, whilst our producers were overseeing the event from our streaming hub in Sydney. These teams ensure meetings are secure and of the highest quality.
In addition to the benefits of increased member engagement and accessibility, companies can be assured that Link Group’s experienced team will offer the support and guidance throughout the entire process.
Having completed their first successful virtual AMM and with the continuing escalation of COVID-19, CSC re-engaged Link Group to run an additional AMM in November 2021. This event was slightly different to their previous meeting as all presenters connected utilising video conference technology for the live components. Once again, the presentations were pre-recorded as there was no physical host location. Meticulous device and connectivity testing was undertaken with key stakeholders to ensure the AMM would run smoothly.
Given the volume of questions received during the Q&A session in the previous meeting, the CSC team allocated roles and responsibilities to assist with moderating the questions received into the Link Group online platform. Questions were routed to the host to verbally disseminate and delegate to the appropriate member of the panel to answer. Strong participation numbers were again present with 659 attendees tuning in on the night and 81 questions received.
“Our first AMM was very successful with good engagement across our customer base. Link Group was flexible in meeting our changing requirements due to COVID-19 prior to the meeting and the staging and production on the day was well run and professional”
Head of Customer Strategy, Customer Innovation and Services
Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation