IR professionals see only a limited use for the AI-powered natural language tool ChatGPT that’s taken the world by storm since its release in 2022.
The technology is able to absorb huge amounts of data and produce articles and software code based on the inputs it receives. But the material it draws on goes back only to 2021, so its capabilities are not yet predictive.
For IR, it has potential uses for generating initial drafts of items such as annual reports, media releases and even simple financial accounts. But IROs are circumspect about how much value it could add to their work right now.
‘I believe it may make a small number of processes more efficient and may provide ideas about how to articulate certain topics, especially for ESG,’ says Benjamin Tucker, IR manager for risk and compliance firm Marlowe. ‘But ChatGPT leverages only information already available to the public, and a large proportion of an IRO’s time is spent reporting new information, so I can’t see it making too much of a difference.’
Similarly, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare’s IR manager Hayden Brown says that because ChatGPT draws on historic data, its efficacy producing copy based on new information is limited. ‘It won’t pick up the nuances of what has happened within a year and how you want to tell a story,’ he explains. ‘Maybe it could write an initial draft, but you would end up rewriting the entire story.’
Given the complexity of the respiratory device leader’s global operations, Brown doesn’t think this technology will be able to produce a full set of financial accounts in the near future.
‘We operate in more than 120 countries so [ChatGPT] would have to be able to absorb sales data from all our locations,’ he points out. ‘It would be amazing if it were able to produce a report that includes all this information but the sheer volume of data means it’s unlikely. For now, I don’t see you being able to push a button and have it spit out a report based on all this complex information.’
Data is king
Guillaume Moinet, CEO and founder of listed company benchmarking data firm Scalens, has a more bullish view of ChatGPT’s potential for IR. ‘Solutions such as ChatGPT could significantly improve investor relations workflow by leveraging data collected by issuers,’ he says. For example, it could compare issuers’ data with other external sources to automatically answer investors’ questions and write regulatory documentation.
‘As always with machine learning or artificial intelligence tools, however, their efficiency depends on datasets,’ Moinet adds. ‘Those who will benefit most from these technological evolutions are those who already have a proprietary dataset.’
Irina Zhurba, head of IR for spectacles retailer Mister Spex in Germany, shares Moinet’s view that ChatGPT will enhance an IRO’s work. ‘It’s very early days [but] I think it will be useful for basic things like spell-checking press releases or automatically drafting simple press releases about new store openings,’ she says. ‘These releases don’t change that much; it’s really just the city name that changes.’
Zhurba notes that in the immediate term, ChatGPT is really an extra pair of hands for the IR team. ‘I would love to play with it,’ she says. ‘If it’s coded and programmed correctly, it might be able to provide information about consensus and respond to simple investor questions like: when is your reporting date or when is year-end?
‘It could also make it easier for investors to navigate a large website. I’m very interested to see how this all plays out. I think it can be an extension of your IR team – probably a very good one.’