Earlier this month, Louis Igonet, head of IR at global listed alternative asset manager Tikehau Capital, reflected on changes to the labor market and what’s needed to make progress in IR careers at the IR Magazine Forum – Europe.
The latest IR Magazine Global IR Salary and Careers report 2022 reveals an increasing number of IR professionals from a capital markets background come from the sell side. Do you expect that trend to continue?
I suspect it will. Also, I think we will see more IR teams probably expanding and strengthening into targeting and corporate access themselves. I’m not surprised that people are moving from the sell side and leveraging their knowledge of the markets in their IR position. IR professionals with a sell-side background coming into the corporate world are bringing a wealth of knowledge about who to talk to at a specific institution, who you need to leverage and who you want to target – that knowledge is highly valued by companies.
When looking at professional qualifications held by IROs, IR Magazine research reveals that those holding sustainability diplomas are likely to be more recent recruits to IR than more experienced professionals. Why do you think that is?
Nowadays investors are constantly looking to get an understanding of a company’s ESG strategy. It’s really an increasing area of focus from public investors so those stats are not surprising. I think it’s highly likely those same stats will continue increasing and you will have a higher percentage of IR officers holding such diplomas in the near future.
Do you think IROs are ambitious enough?
I don’t think we are lacking ambition. Maybe there are differences in levels of ambition between IROs and heads of IR. It’s such an exciting job that sometimes it’s hard to leave. But there are instances when an organization is so siloed it ends up limiting your progression and, when you are not given the opportunity of doing what you want to do, you need to be realistic and find a sector that will allow you to pursue your ambitions.
What do you think IROs can do to enhance their earnings potential?
I think it is important to catch any opportunity to show your value. Given the nature of what we’re doing from talking about governance and ESG to talking about strategy, it is important to understand that the IR role is financial, strategic, environmental and legal – it’s all of that. It is important to work on your personal branding internally and make people understand your responsibilities. The current market turmoil is giving us an opportunity to showcase how useful we are to our company, how useful we are to the markets. Lastly, you have to be optimistic as an IRO. I’m pretty optimistic with regard to the future and the recognition of the position, which will be reflected in pay as well.
What is your advice for those who are considering furthering their IR career in 2023?
The key word is optimism. IROs need to be optimistic because it is the only way forward. My advice is to be optimistic about your company, your prospects and the future of the position we cover. Since I started my career in 2004, I have seen a great shift and an increased level of professionalism in IR. The regulations IROs have to deal with is painful and we are not going to be short of new regulations in the future. All of this is going to provide us with more challenges, but my advice would be for people to remember to be optimistic about their IR role.