It’s not every day that a share register as high profile, complex and sizeable as Vodafone’s is migrated to a new system. Ensuring successful execution was of paramount importance as not to create serious consequences for both Vodafone and EQ. Vodafone appointed EQ in November 2020, trusting that we were the partner who could handle the scale of the challenge ahead.
Of course, the migration had to be successful technologically and meet tight, complex regulatory obligations. In this particular case, that was just the start of what needed to be overcome. The next dividend record date was only weeks away making it imperative that this vast amount of data had absolute integrity and was available to use incredibly quickly. Normally it would take 12 weeks at top speed to migrate a register of this size but EQ had half that time. Add in the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit and Christmas causing international postage delays, and you have a maelstrom of significant considerations.
Our priority was to cause minimum disruption and confusion for our shareholders, to ensure the continuation of high-quality service and timely dividend. We trusted the EQ team to set the pace and monitor all the moving parts, always keeping us informed as to progress. They delivered marvellously, negotiating all obstacles along the way.
Rosemary Martin, Group General Counsel and Company Secretary, Vodafone Group Plc
With so much to navigate so quickly, fast decision-making was pivotal, as well as building a close working relationship. To ensure every element of this complex, time-sensitive project remained on track, EQ and Vodafone partnered with a sprint-like approach, communicating in-depth at least twice a week. A detailed plan with 12 concurrent workstreams was put in place and executed at speed by a dedicated team of more than 50 experts, including project management, IT, data, operations, customer experience and EQ Boardroom.
Stage 1. Set up and test Throughout November 2020
- Project governance put in place.
- Advice on shareholder communications provided from here and throughout.
- First full data extract including dividend payment, bank account reconciliation reports and files loaded to a test environment.
- Advice of register migration to Euroclear.
- Review and remediation/data cleanse.
Stage 2. Dry run End of November 2020
- Second data extract.
- Full dress rehearsal over a weekend.
- Admin processes, responsibilities and transition arrangements documented.
Stage 3. Live load Start to mid-December 2020
- Third and final full data extract of all data and reconciliation reports and files performed over a weekend to the production environment. Share register and operational services live on EQ systems.
- Communicating the results of each step to all parties involved.
- Live migration contingency weekend.
- IT and business sign-off and acceptance testing of the data migration through various business checks.
Stage 4. Pay dividend December to early February 2021
Knowing that the dividend record date was immediately following the transfer, and was due to be paid only a few weeks after the register had been transferred, Equiniti planned for this in tandem with the migration project, ensuring that the dividend payment proceeded smoothly.
EQ and Vodafone achieved all their objectives, transferring all 2 million shareholder records accurately and in time to ensure shareholders received their dividends as planned in February 2021.
Looking back now, it was incredible what Vodafone and EQ achieved together in such a short amount of time and with such tricky obstacles to overcome. It was thanks to the Vodafone team’s trust in us and the time and effort they put into the project that we achieved such a successful outcome.
Anthony Hall, Managing Director of Client Relationships at EQ
After the success of this project, EQ and Vodafone quickly pivoted to work towards delivering their 2021 AGM. Other projects now include digitalisation, enhancing shareholder engagement and creating an efficient register.