There are VSMs and VBMs – Why not VCABs?

In this year of Covid-19 most companies went to a virtual shareholder meeting (VSM), and many if not most could do it again in 2021 – and beyond.  VSMs match up conceptually with virtual board of director meetings (VBMs), the origins of which pre-date VSMs because board members of large corporations like multi-nationals have often, if not regularly, required remote access accommodation for directors, and even senior executives, needing to stay thousands of miles away for the meeting.

What strikes us as a logical off-shoot of VSMs and VBMs is virtual client advisory board meetings (VCABs).  The CAB concept itself for stock transfer agents (TAs) originated in the 1980s, at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company.  It was the brainchild of Carl Hagberg, a well-known and important industry guru to this day.  TA CAB offerings and issuer client participation have ebbed and flowed over the years.  Some agents never created a CAB.  Some did and then either eliminated it or morphed it into a client forum, or into a venue going beyond client constituencies.  Some CABs have remained intact a long time.  The size, scope and prevalence of CABs have thus changed over time, and are still a work in progress.

Our message here is:  with the technology now available (Zoom, GoToMeeting, etc.) and the pandemic still upon us, there is no reason, in our opinion, not to convene an annual or semi-annual virtual CAB meeting that would include a TA’s 10 – 20 largest clients, and the TA’s senior management.  The meetings would cover what new services the TA is offering, what challenges it is addressing (and how), what issuer clients are finding lacking in the TA’s performance or product line (if applicable), and certainly what is working just great – always making such meetings a positive experience for everyone involved.  Talk about good marketing!  And client cross-sell efforts!  And client retention assurance!  Moreover, the minutes from such meetings, abbreviated as necessary, could be distributed to the TA’s smaller clients for an even greater positive impact.

Something for all TAs to consider, and issuers too if their TA does not have a (V)CAB.