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Mar 25, 2020

Five IResolutions for 2020

In the first issue of IR Magazine in the 2020s, we suggest some New Year’s resolutions to think about

As we enter a bold new year, it seems the perfect time for a little self-reflection on both your professional and your personal life. After all, this year heralds several epoch-defining moments, such as the US presidential election and Brexit. With that in mind, here are five ways you might like to consider your own IR-adjacent development as we head into a new decade.

Learn a new skill

Personal branding is hugely important in the social media age, so what better time to take stock of your own brand? How could you characterize your experience in terms of transferable skills? While hours spent nodding and smiling at members of your C-suite may once have been wasted, they are count as valuable ‘active listening’ experience.

Negotiating tense discussions about the best place to meet a potentially valuable shareholder contact can be described as ‘problem solving’ or even ‘critical thinking’, and filling in endless ESG investor questionnaires as ‘data management’. Enough time garnishing your CV may come in handy for our second suggested resolution.

Improve your finances

Given the increasing pressure on IROs to do far more in their working day with ever-constrained resources and budgets, it may seem slightly churlish to angle for a pay rise. But the New Year is the perfect time to impress upon your CFO just how valuable you are to the firm.

Make this an easier sell by jumping on as many corporate committees as you can: development, treasury, financial planning – even the office softball team. Whatever you do, don’t move to Europe: recent IR Magazine surveys show that European IROs are witnessing sharper falls in salary than IROs in any other region. 

Go green – with your communications

January has already been punctuated by ecological disasters – the Australian bush fires, the Taal volcanic eruption in the Philippines and floods in South East Asia – so an environmental approach will be front of mind for many investors.

Capitalize on this by casting a greener eye over your communications approach: perhaps consider not flying your shareholder base by private jet to your CEO’s ruined castle in Scotland for this year’s investor conference, but let them enjoy the boss’ live-streamed solo trip instead.

Elsewhere, there’s always the annual report to bring into the 21st century – we hear Snapchat is the place most Generation X investors are looking these days.

Beware good causes

Speaking of a commitment to ESG, showing your commitment to a good cause is a frequent New Year’s resolution. Committing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals or board diversity targets may be in your company’s plans this year, but you should beware investors banding together to demand corporate change.

Challenges may come from surprising avenues – one of the latest campaigns launched at the World Economic Forum aims to tackle the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance – and could lead to investors getting delusions of activist grandeur.

Get more exercise

The technological solutions available to the IRO of the 2020s mean that, before long, the work of a communications professional will consist of setting up an AI-enabled software suite before enjoying a series of long lunches.

Your website’s virtual assistant will take care of all scheduling of investor events, autocompleting accounting programs will deal with your disclosures and annual reporting, and Gmail’s new auto-complete function can take care of any delicately worded emails being sent out.

Make sure you spend this newfound extra time wisely: consider joining a running group or yoga class to make sure your physical health is in top shape for the 2030s and beyond.

This article was published in the spring 2020 issue of IR Magazine