Preparing for an IPO: An award-winning program

Interview with Gail Williamson, managing director of IR strategy consulting firm OxStone

OxStone’s innovative investor relations strategy for WiseTech Global won this year’s Gold Stevie Award for communication program of the year.

WiseTech Global develops cloud-based software solutions for international and domestic logistics industries. Its IR strategy was chosen from entries from 60 nations and territories, with judges saying the campaign demonstrated ‘financial communication at its best, with impressive results.’

IR Magazine recently spoke to OxStone's managing director, Gail Williamson, about the conception and execution of the award-winning program.

What was the biggest challenge in designing the investor relations program?
The biggest challenge was explaining an unfamiliar vertical industry with complex integrated global technology and a unique business model against the background of an early 2016 turbulent global market for software stocks and fragile investor sentiment toward IPOs in general.

Was this project different from or similar to projects you previously worked on?
Similar in that the start point is always to develop the investment case at the heart of the business and then identify what would be needed to educate investors and support the company to bridge understanding between the two. This was a little different in that WiseTech Global is a technology company operating in global logistics so we needed to set the foundation knowledge about the dynamics of those two industries before we could delve into the stock specifically. We were also passionate about keeping the real voice and ethos of this innovative company and the founder-CEO at the forefront.

What are you most proud of in this campaign?
That this Australian company received such strong investor and market support in response to its global business and strategy – reflecting the value of WiseTech Global’s efforts to build understanding with innovative communication mechanisms and extensive investor engagement. 

Do you have any advice for other IR teams preparing for an IPO?
An IPO is a large undertaking, especially for mid and small caps, and the requirements can be overwhelming so I encourage companies to get IR involved early on and to focus the IR program on education and fostering market understanding rather than the deal specifics. The drive to build longer-term relationships will have a valuable impact well beyond the IPO. 

How do IR programs change post IPO?
The IPO is just the start – even as you are listing it’s important strategically to lay down the first 18 months of your financial calendar and investor activities and immediately start expanding the IR program across the wider market. An IPO can often target a narrow channel so, once listed, it is important to broaden your focus and your IR program early as you will have a much more extensive set of valuable stakeholder relationships to manage.

WiseTech Global CEO, Richard White, adds: ‘We are honored that our investor relations program has been acknowledged [in this way]. We care deeply about innovation and breakthrough ideas in every facet of our business. When coming to market we wanted to extend that same ethos to ensuring our investors could understand who we are and what we stand for.’

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