Blog post -
Why we have added communications consultancy as standard to our Virtual AGM webcasting packages
Most webcasting offerings focus purely on the technology, of cameras and streaming platforms. But there is a very important reason why we have added communications consultancy to all of our virtual AGM packages.
The Singapore Exchange has issued strongly-worded guidance on the levels of disclosure they expect from publicly-listed companies. The CEO of Singapore Exchange Regulation, Mr Tan Boon Gin, wrote in a plain speaking column on April 22:
"We are… issuing this column to remind issuers that reliance on broad-stroke explanations pinned on a decline in general economic activity to explain away their outlook would be deemed inadequate and of little utility to their shareholders.
"Issuers should avoid giving generic statements on the current economic environment that do not give any clarity of the specific areas of impact on their operations and financial situation. For example, issuers should not publish a generic statement they expect their financial results to be materially impacted due to COVID-19 without providing a detailed assessment of how their operations would be affected."
The column by Mr Tan goes on to list eight types of impact from COVID-19, which SGX listed companies should discuss, among others.
And he ended with this: "If issuers do not come clean, investors will assume the worst. In today's market, the consequences of late or poor-quality disclosure could be dire."
In a separate statement on the same day, Mr Tan announced an automatic two-month extension to issue financial results for listed companies whose financial years end on March 31, 2020. A one-month extension applies for listed companies whose financial years end on April 30.
Mr Tan did not pull any punches in elaborating on his expectations:
"Issuers are reminded that it is absolutely necessary and crucial for them to provide timely disclosures to shareholders via SGXNET on the results immediately after the figures are available, as well as on the business impact, or any other material aspects due to the latest advisories and measures amid COVID-19."
Is your Chairman ready?
When most companies hold their Annual General Meetings the Chairman takes charge. He or she may still be introduced to shareholders by the Head of Investor Relations, but usually the Chairman then chairs the meeting.
However, most Chairmen are likely to be familiar with addressing shareholders who are physically present in front of them. Speaking to a camera might make them less comfortable, especially when there are hundreds or possibly thousands, or tens of thousands of shareholders watching. That is especially the case when they have bad news to announce.
We have already added a free 1-hour workshop in how to speak to the camera to all of our virtual AGM packages.
But we are also now adding guidance on how to communicate profit warnings and the negative impact that COVID-19 is having on your business operations in a way that shores up investor confidence.
Please enquire for further details.