Meeting Notes

Cincinnati Tri State NIRI Chapter meeting

Cincinnati Tri State NIRI Chapter meeting

Jan. 15, 2008

About 30 Cincinnati Tri State NIRI Chapter members and guests gathered at the Vernon Manor for lunch and discussion on a timely topic: E-Proxy/Notice and Access: Understanding New Delivery Options in the 2008 Proxy Season. IR professionals face a new regulatory wave in the 2008 proxy season with the SEC moving toward mandating that all companies post their proxy materials on a publicly available Web site. The new regulations accommodate providing shareholders with a notice regarding the availability of proxy materials rather than mailing the proxy and annual report.

Speakers:

Amy Pavich of Broadridge and Paul Ziots, director of investor relations for Sun Microsystems, provided an overview of what's coming as well as tips on turning this challenge into an IR opportunity. Broadridge is the market's leading provider of investor communications including proxy mailing and vote processing. Sun is an early adopter of e-proxy options and used the new notice and access model for its recent Annual Meeting of Shareholders.

Amy talked through a detailed handout highlighting trends, considerations and strategies. Among the early trends (July-December 2007):

  • 72 issuers have adopted notice and access with Broadridge
  • 73+ issuers have committed to notice and access and are in the planning stages
  • Broadridge has processed 15.2 million shareowner records
  • More than 1.6 million shareowners have elected to receive hard-copy materials

Amy said issuers must consider several points when developing the strategy to use notice and access, including whether they can comply with the new requirements that cover everything from creating a cookie-free Web site to providing for permanent election of hard-copy materials; the potential cost savings; how voting will be affected and whether the issuers can meet the demands of the new timeline. She said Broadridge could help issuers with these considerations so they can make an informed decision about whether to go to the new distribution system.

Paul spoke to the group via telephone about his company's experience.

“We had a positive experience with notice and access,” he said. “It's easy for shareholders to get the most up-to-date information from the Web. It's direct and the most effective way to communicate. We're a technology company, and we SHOULD be using technology as an example to customers and to take full advantage of its benefits.”

Paul said Sun went entirely to notice and access, not mailing any hard copies of its annual report or proxy materials unless they were requested. In addition to a single mailing notifying shareholders of the change, Sun also posted notice on its Web site and included a Q&A about the changeover in its proxy statement. The result: about 100 calls or questions about the process (out of 900,000 shareholders), and about 3 percent of shareholders requested hard copies. The 3 percent included “pre-consents,” and Paul noted the importance of asking about the early consenters when estimating print runs and costs.

 

Paul said going to notice and access resulted in a 38 percent savings in annual report expenses. Those cost savings were in printing and postage charges. Broadridge fees increased because of a surcharge for using notice and access. He said Sun was happy with Broadridge and with the new delivery system in general, adding that the eco-friendly aspect of the system was another key benefit.

Next chapter meeting: March 5. Topic: Managing Your IR Career.

Check the chapter Web site or your e-mail inbox for details.