Asian IROs increase productivity without big budgets

IR departments across Asia ramp up output despite smaller teams and budget cuts

Investor relations teams across Asia are making their money go further, attending more one-on-one meetings, going to more investor conferences and embarking on even more roadshows.

The IR Magazine Global Practice Report 2012 finds once again that IROs in Asia are working with the lowest budgets: an average of $285,000, compared with $561,000 in Europe and a high of $585,000 in North America.

Asian mid-cap companies are the only group in the region to see an average budget increase; Asian mega-caps have almost $100,000 less to play with this year while small-caps report the biggest percentage drop in IR budgets.

Asian firms are also experiencing the same shrinking headcounts seen across the IR industry. With an average team size of 3.8 people, however, Asia still enjoys some of the biggest IR departments and, on a regional average, a whole extra member of staff compared with North American teams.

As North America and Europe respond to shrinking headcounts and somewhat smaller budgets with increased outsourcing, Asian firms are taking more work in-house. Going against the global trend, the Asian outsourcing budget is down $19,000, shrinking it by 2 percentage points to 24 percent of the average 2011 budget.

IR teams in Asia are actually increasing their output: they attended 10 more one-on-one meetings this year, an average of five roadshows compared with 4.3 in 2011, and 10.8 investor conferences – up from 7.8 last year.

Joking that high productivity is ‘in our DNA’, Jeannie Ong, head of corporate communications and investor relations at multimedia firm StarHub, says that while her department hasn’t seen a budget cut, it has always operated on a ‘lean budget’.

‘At StarHub, we always accept meeting requests and we usually attend IR conferences organized by any broking firms (even those that have a sell call on us) as long as they do not fall in our blackout period,’ she explains. ‘We do not outsource our IR function as we strongly believe an in-house IR team will be able to do the job more effectively than any IR agency.’

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