Striving To Deliver Greater Convenience and Control
An Interview with John Dunn, Vice President, U.S. Corporate Issuer Sales at Broadridge
With issuers facing mounting pressures to optimize spending on shareholder communications and servicing programs, Broadridge is dedicated to finding ways to deliver convenience, and help clients reduce both effort and costs, with its end-to-end market solution. John Dunn, Vice President, Broadridge’s U.S. Corporate Issuer Sales, discusses what he believes is his company’s unique approach to providing cutting-edge capabilities coupled with personalized service.
Recently, Broadridge acquired Summit Financial. How does this acquisition fit into your overall offering?
With Summit, Broadridge can now create, design, print and file disclosure documents with the SEC as part of the existing workflow for an issuer’s annual meeting—in addition to any other type of compliance or capital markets transaction disclosures. This new capability is a key piece in our unique, endto-end solution.
Would you talk about your end-to-end solution and why this comprehensive type of solution matters today?
Whether you’re an investor relations professional, general counsel, corporate secretary or CFO, you’re running hard and finding it extraordinarily challenging to get everything done. The market continues to express a need for service providers with comprehensive solutions that seamlessly work together for greater efficiency. That’s why clients turn to us for disclosure management, proxy and annual meeting and transfer agency services. Instead of working with multiple service providers, shareholder services, legal and finance professionals can call their Broadridge representative, who will help get everything done. It’s all about simplifying, consolidating, and streamlining.
IR, legal and financial practitioners are increasingly pressed to maintain or decrease their budgets. How can your solution deliver budget certainty?
Budget predictability is a major item on the corporate issuer wish list. Our clients want us to create a budget estimate that furnishes certainty on what a project is going to cost. Because we provide a truly comprehensive set of services, including the handling of the beneficial positions, we have insight into every aspect of the project. Therefore, we are in an ideal position to help our clients plan for the total cost of proxy processing which in turn enables them to optimize their spending.
Would you describe how you help public companies engage with investors and measure the impact of this engagement?
With the recent increase in activism, we see the need for companies to engage retail shareholders as an often overlooked, but critical, success factor in driving up vote participation. Retail investors typically account for 30% of a company’s outstanding shares, yet in the early days of the 2017 proxy season only 29% of retail shares were voted versus around 91% of institutional shares. When it comes to increasing retail participation, understanding who your shareholders are and having an effective communications strategy are key. It’s absolutely clear that technology is changing how communications strategies are being developed.
At Broadridge, we have a two-pronged communications strategy.
• First: data analysis, segmenting and targeting. Our access to a broad set of data allows us to analyze and segment shareholders, taking a more targeted—and therefore more cost-effective—approach to communications.
• Second: tactics and strategy. We send select investors customized emails and full package mailings, while also using other tactics ranging from enhanced packaging to video, social media, and customized design. With some of these enhancements, our clients have, on average, experienced a 10-12% surge in shares voted.
In the context of any annual meeting, the end goal is always the vote. With ProxyVote, we make it easy for any retail shareholder to vote with minimal effort online, at their desktop or on their phone. We make it simple and convenient for companies to stay on top of the vote status with our daily vote insights dashboard.
What opportunities are technologies such as blockchain and virtual shareholder meetings affording your clients?
In terms of corporate governance, blockchain technology has the potential to drive significant benefits for all participants in the process, including shareholders, boards, corporate issuers, regulators, and broker-dealers. Within the proxy voting process itself, blockchain is poised to increase efficiency by reducing the complexity of the vote reconciliation process, while also enhancing information security via encryption. In addition, blockchain increases transparency for vote confirmation.
In 2017, we successfully completed a blockchain pilot to enhance transparency in the global proxy voting process along with J.P. Morgan, Banco Santander, and Northern Trust. We will expand the proxy blockchain pilot to tabulate votes for US-based issuers in 2018.
At the same time, we are investing in the virtual shareholder meeting (VSM) technology to make the shareholder and issuer experiences as compelling as possible. Broadridge, which pioneered VSMs as an alternative to traditional meetings in 2009, expects to help nearly 250 companies host their annual meetings virtually on the Broadridge platform before the year ends.
What is your philosophy around client services and relationship management? We believe in meeting our clients where they are – this means offering online, in-person, and local support. We offer all issuers access to our portal so they can easily keep track of key campaign dates, tasks and voting results with a consolidated view of their beneficial and registered processing. The portal enables our clients to interact with Broadridge any time and on any device. We are also continuing to enhance our client portal for companies that prefer to manage routine tasks themselves. Beyond that, though, each issuer has one point of contact, someone who is dedicated to solving that issuer’s unique challenges, and we’ve put consultative salespeople in key regions to provide local support. When asked why we have dedicated so much time and money to building an end-to-end solution, I say: “It’s because the client really wants someone who can do all of these things.” But more than that, our endto-end solution is about great people and great technology delivering a great client experience.