Annual meetings are a wonderful chance to greet shareholders and drum up excitement, but their most practical use is as a place to hold important votes, allowing shareholders to determine a company’s direction and elect its board. Every leadership team hopes their shareholders will come in droves to fill the meeting space and cast their votes in person and en masse. Certainly we’ve provided some advice as to how companies can attract big crowds to their get-togethers, but sometimes even the most enthusiastic investors just can’t make the trip.
One Proxy, Hold the Hudsucker
Knowing not every shareholder will be able to attend an annual meeting, it is still possible for those who cannot attend to have their say. By appointing a proxy who will be present to vote in their stead (“have their proxy”), a shareholder can add their voice and their vote to that of a like-minded investor. Proxy voting is an excellent way to get a more widespread and fair sampling of the will of the shareholders, so the company’s direction better represents its constituents’ desires. Shareholders who appoint proxies are more likely to feel confident their investment is being used as they prefer.
Proxies can do more than just make people feel included and widen the voter base. A proxy ballot is a great way to counter the influence of activist investors and other individuals who must wield influence beyond the scope of their investment to manipulate a firm’s direction. By reminding everyone of their own value as shareholders, a proxy vote can dilute the sway of an activist and bring focus back to the leadership team’s agenda.
Make it Memorable
A proxy statement must have substance – it must set forth all the necessary information cleanly and clearly, must make the stakes understandable to all shareholders. But like it or not, voting is politics and politics requires both substance and style. And in a business world of black-and-white text on 8.5” x 11” paper, a stylized proxy stands out clearly in the investor’s mind. By printing an attractive and memorable proxy statement, a company can make the need to designate a proxy clear to its shareholders and maximize the available feedback when it comes time to hold a vote. Humans are visual animals, and people are just more likely to vote if they like the look of the ballot.
Because its features draw the eye, a stylized proxy statement is simply better at delivering information than a dense, monochrome document. Photographs and biographies of potential proxies and board-members are more memorable than text-only CVs. Clearly presented agendas and arguments for and against an issue up for the vote are more likely to illicit a response than the arguments alone. Resourceful leaders can use a stylized proxy to subtly sway their shareholders to support their own initiatives, using visual design to do what text simply cannot. Even the medium can make a difference, as a sturdy, glossy sheet will last longer and make a better impression than a simple piece of white printer paper shareholders can fold up to wrinkle in their pocket among takeout receipts and loose change.
Financial printing companies are available in New York and other financial centers to handle all of a company’s specialized printing needs. Typesetting services can create attractive stylized documents quickly, providing both physical and E-delivery to all stakeholders. Document security is also available to make sure shareholders unable to attend an event in person can access their company’s financial statements online.