Beneficial investors in Australian/New Zealand companies can have just five days to respond to shareholder meeting notifications, research shows

LONDON, March 13, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Investors who hold shares in Australian and New Zealand companies through nominees such as a custodian have only five to seven days on average to lodge voting instructions in time for the deadline ahead of shareholder meetings, according to new research.

The report, ‘Proxy Transformation in Australia and New Zealand‘, provides key statistics relating to proxy voting as well as compiling answers and information from 89 issuers, intermediaries and investors.

It shows that proxy voters have on average 21-23 fewer days to vote or confirm attendance at a meeting than those who hold their shares directly.

60% of institutional investors said they lack the time to properly fulfil their stewardship responsibilities, while 75% of issuers said that they have seen cases of ‘lost’ votes – where shareholders say they have put forward their votes but they do not emerge from the chain – with 61% also saying they have seen meeting notices fail to reach institutional shareholders.

The research was commissioned by Australian global Issuer Services provider, Computershare, and the digital investor communications platform, Proxymity.

It was supported by the Australasian Investor Relations Association (AIRA) as well as the Australian Custodial Services Association (ACSA).

Paul Conn, President, Global Capital Markets at Computershare, said: “There is increasing recognition within the corporate landscape and wider public of the importance of proxy voting, and this research again highlights where the system needs to improve.

“Cost effective solutions to these problems already exist and would be easy to implement, and it’s important that the industry works together to fix these issues, empower beneficial shareholders and help improve corporate governance standards.”

Dean Little, CEO of Proxymity, which is being used in many markets to connect issuers, intermediaries and investors in real time via a digital pathway to provide greater transparency, efficiency and accuracy, said: “Technological innovation can help make proxy voting more efficient, transparent and robust.

“It is clearly time for Australian and New Zealand proxy voting to move to a new operating model – where data integrity, transparency and speed can be maintained to the benefit of issuers and investors.”

Ian Matheson, CEO of AIRA, said: “The case for industry-wide transformation is clear from this research.

“Our members will recognise the data issues and timing pressures that the survey helps highlight, and so we look forward to helping the investor and issuer communities to leverage new technologies to achieve more effective and closer engagement across the voting chain.”

‘Key findings’ from the research – voting-in-australia-and-new-zeland/.