Will, thanks for joining me in our new London office today. So firstly, welcome, and for those who don’t already know you, can you tell us a little bit about you?
Sure, thanks for having me. I have been at EQ for just over 2 years now working as head of business development for the EQ Advisory business. I have been in various roles in finance for 20 years, working across operations and relationship management and sales. I joined EQ from LSEG where I headed market data relationships for the London Clearing House.
We’ve worked together now for over two years and I think it would be fair to say we’ve spoken a lot over that time about how we can support companies. Is there anything you can share with us today about what you’ve learnt and what you think the future looks like?
It’s certainly been a learning curve me having not worked in the shareholder engagement space, so thanks to you and many others around the business for the continual education. I think the most interesting point when speaking with clients is the breadth of challenges that companies face. There certainly isn’t a one size fits all approach that you can take for shareholder engagement. Regarding the future I think we will see corporate requirements and market best practice evolve whereby a deeper engagement with the shareholder base will prove key to a successful AGM.
From an operational perspective, we know that starting to work with companies as soon as possible in the AGM process is the best way we can support them. We’ve seen a rise in the number of companies who we support on a longer-term basis. What do you think are the main benefits of that?
Having a continual engagement and taking a proactive approach to corporate governance and shareholder engagement should mean less surprises when it comes to AGMs. Identifying any potential challenges a company may face prior to issuing a notice of meeting means that the organisation can benefit from a broader understanding of what we have identified as voting trends in the market during the AGM season. As I said there is no one size fits all, so we are always happy to provide corporates’ advice so that they can benefit from the wealth of experience we have across the team. I should add as well, advisory isn’t something that clients should only be considering ahead of an AGM. Year-round engagement will lead to identifying and adapting strategies long before votes are cast.
Of course, you cover not only the corporate governance and proxy solicitation business, but also investor relations and company secretarial services. All interconnected services that support the Board. What are the opportunities in those areas?
Investor relations, corporate governance and Proxy are very much aligned services, which is largely the reason that here at EQ these were combined to form the EQA Advisory business.
I have been surprised at how few IR and CoSec teams engage, so where we complete IR service for a client and are assisting with their AGM or GM we can bring that combined knowledge of the shareholder base together, to generate the best strategy and hopefully outcome for the client. Many companies have nuances to their registers, and the more we know the more value we can add.
Thanks so much for your time Will. I’m looking forward to joining you and our clients in the London office more often in future.
Thanks for having me, likewise.