– the UK's First Fully Electronic AGM
Jimmy Choo is a luxury accessories brand, particularly famous for its women’s shoes, which remain its core product offer. Jimmy Choo’s global store network comprises more than 140 stores and it is also present in high-end department and specialty stores worldwide.
Jimmy Choo became a client of Equiniti in preparation for its listing on the London Stock Exchange in October 2014.
In late 2015, Jimmy Choo asked Equiniti to collaborate on a fundamental review of how it manages its Annual General Meeting (AGM). The vision of a fully electronic AGM was delivered on 15 June 2016, becoming a Corporate Governance first.
A Responsible Approach
There were a number of drivers for Jimmy Choo wishing to push the boundaries and key amongst these was good corporate governance; Jimmy Choo wanted to give all its shareholders the opportunity to participate in its AGM regardless of location.
An increasing concern for many responsible investors and PLC boards is how to achieve a reduced carbon footprint. A fully electronic AGM carried the additional benefit of doing just that as it meant that shareholders and board members no longer needed to travel to a physical location, which as well as being convenient for both, underlines Jimmy Choo’s socially responsible approach.
As this was a first, requirements were unknown, so the challenge was how to break new ground in order to deliver an inaugural electronic AGM for a UK PLC, whilst ensuring compliance with all aspects of an AGM and a positive user experience.
Equiniti worked very closely with Jimmy Choo’s legal team, a key stakeholder in the process, to define and refine the requirements. Legal input was needed to ensure compliance with all aspects of an AGM, including the unknown, adjournment, procedural matters etc. This helped Equiniti to shape precisely the development of the solution.
The solution design had to mirror all the requirements of a physical AGM but, of course, in electronic form; attendance, presentations, Q&A and voting. It had to be simple to use, considering the experience of the end user at all times.
It soon became clear from scoping the work, that the end result would be the development of an application for shareholder verification and voting, coupled with the use of telephony for participation.
After the solution was developed, a thorough testing process was undertaken, following which extensive rehearsals took place to establish exactly how this would work in practical terms and at the live event. This investment of time set a high level of confidence amongst everyone involved in the delivery of the AGM.
There were two keys elements to achieving the successful outcome;
• Close collaborative working relationship between Jimmy Choo and Equiniti
• Strong project management methodology to manage risk and deliverables
The AGM was much better attended than Jimmy Choo’s first physical AGM in 2015, evidence of the greater appeal and accessibility of an electronic AGM.
The Technical Side
Equiniti worked closely with Lumi, its long-term partner in delivering market-leading AGM technology solutions, to enable the AGM voting to be both legally robust and practical across a number of electronic platforms.
The AGM application was created as a native app for Android and iOS and was responsive, allowing it be viewed on a mobile, tablet or desktop. The app talked directly to the AGM registration system to allow shareholders to submit questions and vote on the resolutions being put to the meeting.
In order to access the app, a shareholder was required to enter a unique meeting code, known as the ‘Meeting ID’, followed by their log-in credentials (username and password). These log-in credentials were held on a secure, authentication server that connected to the meeting database via the online voting platform. A shareholder was not permitted to enter the ‘virtual meeting’ if their credentials could not be verified.
Setting the Trend
Following this historic first in good corporate governance, other companies are looking at how and when they may introduce changes to their own meeting management. UK PLCs now have an extended choice of running the fully electronic AGM as per Jimmy Choo or perhaps a hybrid version – a physical AGM and the use of digital technology to allow further shareholder participation.