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Jun 30, 1998

Big questions

IR magazine's research to select its award-winners

This is the eighth year that Investor Relations magazine has polled London's financial community to select the cream of the crop in UK investor relations. And, my, what a change in the function over that period.

Here's one comment from an analyst interviewed in our research to find the winners, the sort of comment you would have been hard-pressed to get anyone to make back in 1990 when we started the awards: 'It's usually a source of comfort when we find an IR function within a company. It provides an instant point of reference.'

The improvement - and recognition - of the IR function in the UK is there for all to see. Those readers able to flick back through the research reports of years gone by will note the significant change in the financial community's attitude toward investor relations officers. Where once scorn was poured, now analysts and fund managers are keen to praise when praise is due.

But that doesn't mean that investor relations officers at UK companies can rest on their laurels; it doesn't mean that the UK will automatically lead the field in European investor relations for ever. Pressurized by investors, many continental European companies are playing (or have played) catch-up. And fast.

Some UK companies, many of our award-winners among them, seem to have realized that point and are looking onward and outward, developing innovative ways of improving their financial communications programs. Others, as detailed in this issue's Register pages, are being a tad introspective, a little bit relaxed, in particular about the growing competition for equity capital from mainland Europe.

The cover story in this issue looks at some of the forces that might impact UK companies when the euro arrives on the Continent next year. Many questions remain unanswered in this field, but one thing is for certain: it will have an immediate impact on UK investor relations and fund management even though the country remains outside the initial implementation phase of the single currency. Not enough IR officers in the UK seem to appreciate this fact.

UK IROs filing out of the London Hilton after this year's awards may wish to ponder why the financial community chose certain companies as winners. One clear message from the research report is that these companies anticipate and prepare for questions which may be thrown at them. UK companies will find big questions about the euro cropping up in the coming months. They cannot afford not to have the answers.

Staff Writers

The staff writers on IR magazine are from our team of highly experienced journalists.