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Note: Responding to continuing interest the original period of proxy season observations, Symantec has been added to the Forum's reference page Meetings list with links to relevant reports and to the archived webcast and transcript of its meeting.


Forum Report: Electronic Participation in Shareholder Meetings


Symantec Chairman’s Report of Pioneering Experience

Shareholders of Symantec Corporation had asked the Forum to request management responses to two issues concerning the fair conduct of the company’s “virtual” shareholder meeting: (1) the identification of attending directors and (2) the reporting of questions presented by shareholders.[*] The chairman of the company’s board of directors has responded with a letter that provides the information investors need to make their judgments of fairness, and also a valuable review of practices to guide other companies and service providers:

Anyone interested in effective communication practices is urged to read this thoughtful and articulate report of a widely observed effort by a technology leader to address what Mr. Thompson describes as “an opportunity to increase participation and enable more stockholders to interact.” This is his summary of the learning experience:

As we plan next year’s meeting, we believe enhancements can be implemented to improve the experience for our stockholders. We will be working with our vendors to develop more effective ways to maximize the experience. Given last year’s experience, we have identified several areas where improvements that can be made. These include, but are not limited to, the registration process, introduction of the board and management teams, presentation format, and to the question and answer procedure. We also believe we can provide stockholders the ability to ask questions directly, similar to what occurs during our quarterly earnings calls, by providing a phone line option for participants to ask their questions verbally. We recognize the importance of hearing from stockholders in their own words and will implement a format that gives stockholders that opportunity. We will evaluate the stockholder forum option as well. We have identified other areas where we can improve the overall meeting experience and will continue to work on these throughout the year.

We remain committed to open communications with our stockholders. We understand the importance for stockholders to share their concerns, realize that they’ve been heard and recognize that we are addressing their issues. We look forward to continuing our interactions with our stockholders.

It is in this context, too, that investors should consider Mr. Thompson’s similarly thoughtful responses to the specific issues of identifying attending directors and reporting shareholder questions. You can read in his words what was done and why, and what was learned from it, and then make your own judgment about the meeting’s essential fairness.

Whether you decide that the actual conduct of Symantec’s meeting was fair to shareholders or not, the Company’s management deserves credit for testing new ways to serve investors. They also deserve our gratitude for showing us what does and doesn’t work. Most importantly, especially in our focus on fair conduct, we must respect and encourage the kind of leadership Symantec has demonstrated.

GL – October 28, 2010


Gary Lutin

Chairman, The Shareholder Forum

c/o Lutin & Company

575 Madison Avenue, 10th Floor

New York, New York 10022

Tel: 212-605-0335



[*] For news reports of activist concerns about the Symantec meeting, see September 26, 2010 New York Times: "Questions, and Directors, Lost in the Ether" and October 5, 2010 Reuters: "Exclusive: Symantec to restore live investor meeting." For the views of professionals, see October 22, 2010 IR Magazine | Inside Investor Relations: "The debate about virtual shareholder meetings" and Third Quarter 2010, Carl T. Hagberg of The Shareholder Service Optimizer: "Some Notes on the Much-Bashed Symantec Virtual Meeting;" see also the October 25, 2010 Forum Report: Inviting Comments on Service Expert's Views of Meeting Practices. Referring to these reports, however, it should be noted that the purpose of the Forum’s inquiry was to address investor considerations of fairness standards rather than the vigorously expressed professional controversies associated with service provider classifications of “virtual” and “hybrid” meetings.




This Forum program is open, free of charge, to anyone concerned with investor interests in the development of standards for conducting shareholder meetings with electronic participation. As stated in the posted Conditions of Participation, the Forum's purpose is to provide decision-makers with access to information and a free exchange of views on the issues presented in the program's Forum Summary. Each participant is expected to make independent use of information obtained through the Forum, subject to the privacy rights of other participants.  It is a Forum rule that participants will not be identified or quoted without their explicit permission.

The organization of this Forum program was encouraged by Walden Asset Management, and is proceeding with the invited leadership support of Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. and Intel Corporation to address issues relevant to broad public interests in marketplace practices, rather than investor decisions relating to only a single company. The Forum may therefore invite program support of several companies that can provide both expertise and examples of leadership relating to the issues being addressed.

Inquiries about this Forum program and requests to be included in its distribution list may be addressed to

The information provided to Forum participants is intended for their private reference, and permission has not been granted for the republishing of any copyrighted material. The material presented on this web site is the responsibility of Gary Lutin, as chairman of the Shareholder Forum.

Shareholder Forum™ is a trademark owned by The Shareholder Forum, Inc., for the programs conducted since 1999 to support investor access to decision-making information. It should be noted that we have no responsibility for the services that Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., introduced for review in the Forum's 2010 "E-Meetings" program and has since been offering with the “Shareholder Forum” name, and we have asked Broadridge to use a different name that does not suggest our support or endorsement.