Developing your career in 2017: part one

Tips to boost knowledge and experience for novice IROs

This article was produced in association with ELITE Connect. It was originally published on the ELITE Connect platform

The dawn of a New Year is often heralded as the opportunity for positive change and new challenges. Here, we examine how IR professionals who are newer to the field can kick-start their personal development and enjoy a successful career boost for 2017.

The UK’s Investor Relations Society (IR Society) was established in 1980 to establish best practice in the IR profession, with one of its main remits being to support the professional development of its members.

‘IR is rapidly receiving the recognition it deserves as more and more companies realize the value of a well-trained IR team,’ says John Gollifer, general manager of the IR Society. ‘People continue to come into IR from a wide range of backgrounds including financial PR, corporate communications and a whole range of city roles such as senior sell-side or buy-side analyst, fund manager, accountant and corporate financier.’

For those newer to the profession, the IR Society recommends two courses: 

CIR – The IR Society’s long-standing Certificate in Investor Relations (CIR) has become a benchmark in the industry, widely recognized in the UK and other international markets as an essential prerequisite for those seeking to work in investor relations. To date there are nearly 1,200 successful candidates from more than 25 countries.

IR Fundamentals: This professional development course is a comprehensive introduction to IR and explains the workings of the financial markets, identifying key relationships and developing awareness of crucial IR techniques. Courses are delivered by expert trainers and IR practitioners, delivering first-hand experience and insight.

With training courses complete, how else can a less-experienced IR professional progress and make headway within the sector? The most important move is to get out and ask your customers what they see as outstanding IR, says Craig Marks, senior IR director at AstraZeneca. ‘Speak toyour biggest customers, namely sell-side analysts and investors,’ he advises. ‘This is crucial to succeeding in IR – IROs need to get out and ask analysts and investors what they want, what they think is a good approach and what works for them.’

Knowledge, both internal and external, is also a fundamental base for a career in IR, according to Marks: ‘IROs need to know their business backwards and learn everything about what their company offers and how it does so. Become the guru.

‘Also key to success is establishing what your peers are doing – this is easy to research fromplaces such as IR websites that give details of a company’s financial calendar, including roadshows and conferences, as well as showcase materials such as annual reports, announcements and presentations.Be known for being proactive, honest, clear, reliable, knowledgeable and consistent. It’s these six things that great IR is built on.’

Marks has one final tip to share: the correct use of a good customer relationship management (CRM) system. ‘Using a good CRM, and making sure you’re using it to its full ability, will reap rewards in the long term,’ he says. ‘It means you’ll be able to properly target and track your investor meetings and ensure you have the foundations of the house [in place]. You can add the windows and walls later.’

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