Executing a Data-Informed, Proactive and Year-Round Shareholder Engagement Strategy
The key to a successful 2024 proxy season lies in the planning and actions you take over the next several months. While each company’s challenges and opportunities are unique, more times than not the blueprint for gaining investor support includes a data-informed, proactive, and year-round shareholder engagement strategy.
Here are six actions to put into play today to get ahead of Proxy Season challenges and set yourself up for success in 2024:
- Leverage voting data to stay informed. Before inking new proposals or engaging in discussions with shareholders, it is critical to be as informed as possible about potential blind spots, risks and opportunities. This means leveraging data to understand your top shareholders’ engagement priorities, policy changes, and N-PX voting records.
- Get updated on ISS and Glass Lewis policy changes and engagement cycles. It also is important that you stay up to speed on ISS and Glass Lewis proxy voting and engagement guidelines, as well as recent trends of support and dissidence on relevant proposals.
- Identify key shareholder contacts. In addition to your traditional IR contacts (like PMs and analysts), you should identify, profile and build relationships with stewardship contacts across your top holders. Data platforms and AI can be leveraged here to expediently validate the most relevant contacts for your company.
- Engage now. Proactively engaging ahead of the busy and sometimes heated proxy season is crucial. Offseason engagement (ideally in Q4 and early Q1) provides the chance to seek input on potential shareholder proposals, identify controversial topics before policies are finalized and outline your rationale. Conducting engagement year-round also helps to build relationships and create two-way, open communication with key contacts. When reaching out to request a meeting, be sure to have a set agenda with specific and clear objective(s.)
- Identify your spokespersons. Ahead of any meetings, think strategically about who from your board and management team should participate. In addition to experience and the relevance of their role, you should consider communication skills. Who is a strong active listener? Who is best able to articulate how your policies and strategy are designed to deliver shareholder value?
- Prepare and practice. Preparation is key to ensure your team is ready to answer the tough questions and present a compelling case for any policy or strategy changes. This means organizing several strategy sessions to align on key messaging, familiarize the team with shareholder profiles, policies and voting history, and conduct a rapid-fire Q&A practice session to address anticipated questions.