I attended my first ever SingTel AGM a couple of weeks back and was positively annoyed by the overly long proceedings. All that extra time allowed me to think back to some of the AGMs I’ve attended over the years and the types of characters you find at these events.
Here’s a Mr Men and Little Ms-themed list I came up with as part of this pointless mental exercise.
First up, as always, is former Business Times editor and AGM regular Mr Mano Sabnani. Always to the point and never shy to ask tough questions, Mr Mano always sets the tone for productive discussion at the start of any AGM he attends.
Little Ms Gian Peng
Little Ms Gian Peng attends AGMs mainly for the perks associated with attendance. From Capitaland Vouchers to Buffet food and door gifts, she wants them all. Where these perks are less than satisfactory, Little Ms Gian Peng does not hesitate to let the Board know as part of the Q&A.
Mr Ah Gong
Mr Ah Gong is the old guard of long term investors having held the company’s shares since more than 200 years ago. He feels strongly about the company and lets the board know every small observation that he is displeased with in his usual slow drawl.
Little Ms SJW
Little Ms SJW feels very strongly about all things social justice – cyber security, data privacy, human rights, climate change, etc. This usually results in a Q&A session where her views are spammed at the board, often without catching breath from start to finish.
Mr Ironfist is the chairman of the board. Unlike his chairman counterpart Mr Chillpill, he runs AGMs according to a strict protocol and will not hesitate to shut down any unreasonable questions.
Little Ms Persistent
Little Ms Persistent feels that her questions should be met with detailed answers. When the board fails to satisfy her queries (due to their inability to provide market moving information), she chooses to persist in her line of questioning. This results in a pointless discourse that could have been avoided.
Mr Suffer in Silence
Mr Suffer in Silence is attending the AGM to learn more about the company. Unfortunately, due to the wide variety of characters involved in the AGM, the value of the experience is greatly diminished. Trouble is, he is usually flanked by 2 or more aunties who block his path to freedom. As such, he chooses to Suffer in Silence.
The AGM experience is can be varied. It can be very procedural and open-and-shut. For more widely held companies, it can be more of a mixed bag. While you can get a useful intellectual discussion, you should have an expectation that there are things that the Board and Management cannot discuss or disclose. Failure to understand that can lead to a colossal waste of time.
Please think of that the next time you stand up and ask a question at a AGM. Especially when I’m in the crowd 😛