A Pre-Proxy Season Q&A With Broadridge
With annual meetings being top of mind for many companies at this time of the year, the Optimizer sat down with John Dunn, Vice President, US Corporate Issuer Sales at Broadridge to get his perspective and learn what is new at the company.
HOW DOES BROADRIDGE SEE “RAISING THE BARS” IN THIS CURRENT ENVIRONMENT?
While we have always set the bar very high, we are committed to continue to find new ways to exceed our client’s - and their shareholders’ - expectations. We have a 99% client retention rate and 98% client satisfaction, based on a survey we conduct annually and that we use to prioritize where we focus our efforts to continue to meet and exceed client’ expectations.
For shareholders, one of our priorities is increasing shareholder engagement. One recent innovation is a newly upgraded ProxyVote.com site, which improves the shareholder communication and proxy voting experience for millions of individual shareholders of virtually all U.S. publicly-traded companies and mutual funds. In terms of operational excellence, our vote tabulation process is audited by an independent third party; Deloitte and Touche, who has validated a 99.9% vote accuracy rate. Broadridge’s core applications and facilities are ISO 27001 certified, and our data security is ISO 9001 certified, state-of the-art Tier IV disaster and SSAE 16 compliant.
WHAT DOES “SINGLE SOURCE” SOLUTION MEAN TO BROADRIDGE AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, TO YOUR CLIENTS?
We consistently hear from our clients that one of the main reasons they choose to do business with Broadridge is that they can get all of their needs met from a single partner, ultimately making their job easier. Broadridge helps companies manage and communicate with all of their shareholders year round, simplifying the entire process and providing our clients peace of mind. As a full service Transfer Agent we continue to expand our shareholder services portfolio to ensure we are the “go to” partner for corporate issuers. We added in several new and enhanced offerings prior to this proxy season including, print services, data solutions and enhanced packaging.
WHAT IS THE OPPORTUNITY AROUND DATA? WHAT VALUE CAN THIS PROVIDE YOUR CLIENTS?
Governance professionals are increasingly interested in getting the right insights and information about all of their shareholders, to better understand who their shareholders are and build engagement strategies to achieve a successful voting outcome. More than 30% of the shareholdings of US public companies are held in retail hands, but less than 30% of that segment voted in 2015. This audience presents a major opportunity for companies to engage— especially important in close proxy votes. One of our clients needed to achieve 70% of the outstanding shares to vote in favor of a merger proposal. When they were two weeks out from the meeting and only at 45% in favor, they used our Shareholder Data Services offering to gain additional insight about their shareholders and identify which groups to target with a reminder mailing. A portion of the target group received an “enhanced package” to break through the mailbox clutter and drive greater shareholder participation. The result was 73% of total outstanding shares voted to approve the merger.
VIRTUAL SHAREHOLDER MEETINGS SEEM TO BE GENERATING MORE INTEREST. WHAT INSIGHTS CAN YOU PROVIDE?
In 2011, 39 companies hosted a virtual shareholder meeting (VSM) on the Broadridge platform. That number rose to 131 in 2015, and included companies like HP, who was one of approximately 70% of companies holding a VSM to hold it as a virtual-only meeting. There are a number of key reasons why companies have found that a virtual meeting is a good fit – from offering more convenience for all participants – shareholders, company management, and board members, to reducing meeting costs, to keeping up with the times and going digital.
And we apply the same level of security, data protection and controls to VSMs as we do for all the services we provide to companies. In this age of cybersecurity concerns, Broadridge Technology and Security teams monitor each meeting for Denial of Service and other attacks, as well as for technology interruptions. Contingency plans are put in place by Broadridge for every meeting, so a company that decides to host a virtual meeting can feel confident that their meeting will be a seamless experience for them and their shareholders.
WHAT TRENDS HAVE YOU SEEN IN PRINTING?
Even in this digital age, many shareholders still prefer to receive a hard copy mailing of their proxy materials. Broadridge is increasingly working with our clients to meet their print needs for proxy statements, annual reports and other regulatory documents, which helps streamline the process and ensure a smoothe and seamless transition from printing to distribution. Clients
benefit from the added convenience of not needing to coordinate efforts across several partners, plus they reduce time in transit and eliminate freight-cost uncertainties. We are also partnering with our clients to improve voting participation via “enhanced packaging” options that allow for customized messaging on the outer envelope. Some of our clients have experienced a 25-30% average increase in accounts voted. But beyond ‘print and mail’ we help clients convert and digitize their documents, and the proxyvote website, so that shareholders who go online after receiving an email or hard copy, get a customized experience.
HOW DOES BROADRIDGE THINK ABOUT CLIENT SERVICES / RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT?
We make the shareholder management and communication process easier for our clients. In addition to surveying customers annually and acting on their feedback, we are also organized to best serve our customers. Each client has a dedicated relationship manager, paired with a local, dedicated salesperson. Additionally, our transfer agent and data specialists work closely with clients and offer their unique expertise and insights.