“Facilitate dialogue” is one of the objectives of the Investor Forum.
In 2020, the value of high-quality dialogue, strong relationships and the power of investor signals was evident.
Four O’clock Forum
At the start of lockdown, the Investor Forum launched a series of virtual events for Members to provide opportunities to share insights, discuss topical issues and hear from experts. The series was a great success, with over 460 attendees representing 49 Member firms joining 22 events.
Each Four O’clock Forum provides an interactive session with a focus on one of four areas:
1. Thinking Aloud
- We created discussion materials and an opportunity for investors to exchange thoughts on the practical impact of important recent developments. We covered issues such as Capital Raising, Audit and increasing regulation.
2. Expert Speakers
- We invited experienced practitioners to share reflections on key issues. Speakers have included Philip Augar, Donald Brydon, John Kay, Marty Lipton, Nick Moakes, Nick Robins and Anthony Bolton.
3. Stewardship Forum
- Individual companies were invited to share insights into different aspects of governance, continuing our ‘Stewardship Forums’ in a virtual setting.
For example, the Director of Health, Safety, Environment & Sustainability at Balfour Beatty plc discussed the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis for working practices (this also formed part of the ‘Working practices in Construction’ S-360 project)..
4. S-360 Deep Dives
- The Forum continues to develop S-360 projects, which included sessions on voting transparency and purpose. In November, we explored, through a series of four webinars, how climate change considerations are impacting investor dialogue and company decision making, with insights from company analysts, climate framework specialists, NEDs and the FRC.
In April, the Investor Forum sent a letter to 322 Chairs and NEDs of UK listed companies offering our support as they sought to understand
and address the needs of their shareholders during the current crisis. We were encouraged that so many companies opened up a very active dialogue directly with their shareholders throughout 2020. Our reminder that our platform is available to companies as well as investors was appreciated, and we spoke to companies about Board dialogue with investors and helped a number of them to organise virtual events during the year.
Company Meetings for Members
In addition to collective engagements, the Forum also facilitates meetings with companies to address issues of specific concern to Members.
These fulfil the objective of facilitating dialogue in situations where communication has proved challenging or where investors are seeking to address a broader agenda with the company to complement their individual interactions. Read more on page 20 of our Annual Review 2020.