April and May are historically some of the busiest months for private equity annual general meetings (AGMs). Fund managers, investors, and other interested parties gather to reflect on the prior year, celebrate wins, discuss losses, and review plans for the year ahead.
Typically, these are in-person meetings. However, as we’re all learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 is turning out to be anything but a typical year.
As Private Equity International found in research it conducted about how institutional investors are responding to the coronavirus outbreak, 68% responded that they definitely or maybe would expect to attend general partner AGMs by videoconference rather than fly in, even after business life returns to “normal.” They also said they would attend fewer industry conferences in person and would be more inclined to perform due diligence via videoconference as well.
While video conferencing makes sense for many reasons in our new normal, it begs the question: How can organizers conduct these now-virtual meetings in a way that ensures the gatherings are informative and productive for everyone involved?
One of the keys will be the right technology.
Virtual AGMs: Beyond Videoconferencing
The systems that enable virtual AGM attendees to see and hear one another are important, of course. But beyond those “infrastructure” concerns, the technology that will really make or break a meeting are the solutions behind the scenes. Specifically, tools for communicating with attendees and securely sharing files are critical.
While virtual AGMs are just as important as in-person meetings, the fact that no travel will be required and that the event will largely be unseen by anyone other than attendees means that being able to connect with participants, the media, and others frequently and efficiently is crucial. This includes activities like generating initial awareness of the event, email invitations, and alerting media contacts to press releases about the meeting.
A product like Altvia Correspond Market Edition makes it easy for communications teams to stay in touch with stakeholders. Combining the functionality of a mass email system with integration to the AIM private equity CRM, Correspond Market Edition simplifies and streamlines everything from list management, to analytics and reporting, to compliance. As a result, AGM-related communications can be timely, useful, and highly targeted.
Another essential aid for both in-person and virtual AGMs is a private portal that organizers can use to share files. Being able to provide stakeholders with documents, video, photos, and other multimedia files related to a company’s annual activity quickly, conveniently, and securely is extremely important before, during, and after meetings of any kind—and especially remote meetings.
The ShareSecure LP portal provides that functionality. A virtual data room and GP-LP engagement platform, it serves as a secure hub through which stakeholders can interact and accelerate the exchange of information. ShareSecure enables users to create, track, and audit the materials they provide to meeting participants, ensuring that attendees always have what they need to understand what’s being discussed. The portal is also integrated with AIM on Salesforce, which makes it even easier to use.
And while the platform is mobile-friendly, it also features enterprise-grade security with 2-factor authentication, virus scanning, dynamic watermarking, and other features that protect everyone who relies on it. Plus, granular access control allows you to customize user permissions so only people who need a file can access it. You can also set user access expiration dates, meaning you could lock certain people out of the portal after the AGM if appropriate.
Flexibility iN A Virtual Meeting
A benefit of this approach is virtual events can be coordinated much more quickly than in-person gatherings. That includes both scheduling them and rescheduling them if conditions warrant.
As long as the right technology has been secured, a meeting can be fired up essentially at a moment’s notice if need be. This flexibility makes it easier for stakeholders to stay in touch, both through AGMs and other meetings all year long, which can lead to everything from enhanced transparency to better performance.
Continue reading about successful online events with this post, 4 Ways to Make your Annual Meeting Work Remotely.