Omni Market Tide (OMT) has developed the OmniLoop app. The app allows companies to hold virtual meetings, including AGM’s where shareholders can vote remotely in real time. This week OMT used OmniLoop to hold what the company claims to be the world’s first virtual AGM. Most of the company’s 1,000 shareholders attended the meeting not in person, but virtually.
The tech start-up launched on the Australian share market nearly a year ago.
With the cost of holding an AGM running to hundreds of thousands for major companies worldwide, the app is expected to dramatically reduce costs of holding an AGM. Apart from taking up significant organisational resources, some investors incur high traveling and accommodation costs to physically attend an AGM. The opportunity to attend an AGM virtually encourages greater participation in AGMs which in recent times, partly due to the high cost involved, have shown a decrease in shareholder attendance.
OMT managing director Megan Boston told newscom.au that shareholders from Asia and New Zealand took part in the AGM, typing and submitting questions through the app.
If one takes into account that the vast majority of trades are already conducted virtually via smartphones, virtual shareholders meetings should follow naturally. Investors have been using their smartphones to check stock quotes in real time for years now and the biggest brokerages report high trading volumes via mobile devices.
In 2014 MarketWatch reported that between 2010 and 2013, trading on mobile phones and tablets increased 713% at Scottrade Inc., and at Fidelity Investments, mobile trading in 2013 grew 63% over the previous year.
OMT has five clients so far. Two clients, Westpac and Telstra use the app to keep shareholders informed, but have not yet decided to use it for their AGMs at the end of the year. Virtual meetings in the form of online and Skype meetings have become common, however, it remains to be seen whether established publicly listed companies are ready to resort to virtual meetings of CEOs, company directors and shareholders to deliberate important organisational matters.