‘I think we were the first IR society to launch virtually,’ says Michael Chojnacki, director at corporate access firm Closir and one of the founding members of the new Polish Investor Relations Society. ‘Unfortunately, that means we haven’t had the drinks reception yet.’
The new society conducted a snap poll ahead of its launch, with Polish IR respondents saying they wanted to hear more about ESG issues, strategy and technology. Chojnacki half-jokes that the drinks reception is another focus – though he stresses the importance of being able to meet in person for the community.
The new IR society launched on April 9, and aims to bring together the Polish IR community, which includes everything from large, state-owned entities to a big group of gaming small caps.
Topics for the virtual launch event included global trends in IR, the role of technology in investor relations, IR and social media, trends in ESG capital markets reporting and something all IR professionals have been grappling with this past year: crisis management.
What’s in the DNA?
IR Magazine caught up with some of the society’s founding members following the launch in Warsaw.
Chojnacki’s background is very focused on emerging markets around the world, and he says part of the inspiration for the new society was simply that ‘in most large countries where you have a very active capital market, and a very active investor relations profession, there is a body responsible for sharing information, sharing knowledge and promoting the profession as a whole.’
Chojnacki has attended events from these different IR societies and associations in many countries and says he sees a common denominator in ‘the sharing of experiences, the sharing of best practice’.
‘If you compare best practices across companies in Turkey, Brazil, Germany or the UK, you realize that the DNA of good investor relations is actually the same on every level,’ he says. ‘Of course, there are intricacies within individual markets, but the strong culture of providing information to the market, of providing access to the company and of being transparent remains the same.’
It’s also an exciting profession that’s seeing a lot of change, he adds, with the ever-increasing focus on ESG as well as all the changes around corporate access and virtual that the past year has brought.
Until now, the Polish IR community has been somewhat ‘fragmented,’ explains Marcin Droba, IR manager at LiveChat Software, another Polish IR society founding member, who took on the topic of IR and social media at the society launch. He explains that Poland is a heavily regulated market – ‘maybe over-regulated’ – with a lot of reporting requirements.
‘At the same time, we have a lot of companies on the stock market – some of them are very young and very small,’ he continues. ‘We have a lot of gaming companies, for example. And they have small teams and problems that are completely different from those of larger companies with much bigger IR teams.’
Droba says the coming together of these very different types of companies within the new society is going to be interesting. ‘It will be fascinating to bring people from huge, state-owned companies together with these small firms and find out what the common problems we share are, and what we can learn from each other,’ he says.
Małgorzata Żelazko, who this week moved from eight years as an equity analyst into an IR role as director of investor relations and financial analysis at Wirtualna Polska Holding, agrees that a more joined-up IR community will benefit the profession as a whole.
She also shares some thoughts on IR from her experience covering TMT stocks – including LiveChat – with two key points: firstly, how essential it is to be able to contact IR almost immediately when necessary, and secondly, how bringing out more than just the CEO and CFO can present a great opportunity.
‘For me it’s always been very interesting to have the opportunity to speak to other members of management, like the chief strategy officer, or to talk to a tech person or someone like that,’ says Żelazko.
Now that the society has officially launched, Chojnacki says the plans are to build up the membership – ‘we want this society to be as inclusive as possible’ – and an agenda of focused workshops. The team is looking at a series of ‘fireside chats with a fund manager, a journalist, a sell side analyst, for example, where the whole community can listen in and ask questions.’
But once lockdown ends, the priority will be on being able to get together in person.
In the run-up to the launch, Chojnacki says a number of people highlighted how important it is to meet face-to-face. ‘It shows us that while virtual events and conferences are very good for sharing experiences and knowledge and have really come into the mainframe, the real core of professional bodies is physical contact,’ he points out. ‘So we can’t wait for the first real meeting.’