Guy Jubb: AGMs have lost their sense of purpose

Guy Jubb: AGMs have lost their sense of purpose 

Ex-Standard Life Investments governance head argues meetings should be complemented by continual dialogue

Guy Jubb, former head of governance at asset management giant Standard Life Investments, claims AGMs have lost their sense of purpose and need urgent reform.

Making his comments in a blog for the Oxford University faculty of law, Jubb says the rise of ESG investing and chaotic fallout of Covid-19 had made the necessity for reform even clearer.

“The AGM has failed to adapt to the changing face of capitalism and shifts in societal values,” he writes.

“We believe the AGM of today has lost its sense of purpose, and it is essential that this is redefined in order to address the role of the AGM in corporate governance, and to help companies gather insight and input from shareholders and stakeholders.”

Jubb, who made his comments as co-chair of the ShareAction Future of the AGM Working Group, stressed that the current nature of these meetings confined engagement to a few short hours once a year.

To improve this, he argues an AGM should be complemented with a year-long period of transparent dialogue between companies, stakeholders and shareholders. This builds upon the UK Corporate Governance Code’s provision for regular engagements outside general meetings.

Other suggestions include companies preparing reports on their section 172 obligations for the benefit of the AGM agenda, and for meetings to conclude with anonymised polls about this.

“We developed these recommendations with the ambition to transform AGMs from staid, sparse and perfunctory events into a genuinely helpful arena for companies, investors and stakeholders to address the challenges they collectively face,” writes Jubb.

“We urge our fellow investors, company representatives, stakeholders and policymakers to grasp the nettle and rise to the challenge by taking steps to deliver our vision for the AGM of the future.”

Last Updated: 11 March 2021
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