More Than One in Three U.S. Companies to Implement Virtual Technology for 2020 Shareholder Meeting, Survey Finds

ROCKVILLE, Md. (April 1, 2020) – ISS Corporate Solutions, Inc. (ICS), a leading provider of compensation, governance, and sustainability tools and advisory services to help companies improve shareholder value and reduce risk, today announced the release of the results of a survey examining corporate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on both annual shareholder meetings and incentive compensation. The survey, which ran from March 19 to 25, garnered 230 responses of which one-third were from S&P500 companies.

Just 4 percent of responding companies say they are evaluating whether to move the date of their meeting when asked whether they expect to hold their annual gathering in the “same general timeframe this year.” Roughly 75 percent of U.S. companies hold their annual meeting in April and May, according to ISS Corporate Solutions data.

Most notably, while nearly one-half (47 percent) of respondents say they have yet to make a determination as to the type of annual meeting they will hold, 37 percent have moved to a virtual only format, while 4 percent are opting for a hybrid in-person/virtual meeting. Just 11 percent say they will convene their annual meeting in the same manner as they did last year, the survey finds.

“These are extraordinary times and so it is not surprising to see companies undertake this marked shift in how they interact with shareholders,” said Mark Brockway, Head of ISS Corporate Solutions. “The question for governance observers is whether this trend represents the new normal – will companies that have made the shift to a virtual meeting format out of necessity continue to do so in future years out of convenience.”

The survey also asked respondents about potential impacts to fiscal 2019 executive incentive payouts or related disclosures in the upcoming proxy filings, finding that more than six in 10 intend to make no changes while one in four are still mulling potential changes. So far, just 5 percent say they are considering expanded CD&A disclosures. However, when asked about the effect on fiscal 2020 incentive awards, 8 percent say they will make some changes for 2020 incentive programs while 64 percent of respondents are still evaluating potential changes.

ISS Corporate Solutions also released today an overview of regulatory guidance, across select global jurisdictions, for issuers as it applies to convening their annual meeting and certain filing disclosures. The report, which also includes a chart tracking changes to annual meetings in 20 major markets, can be downloaded here.

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