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Jan 26, 2024

How IR can juggle the conflicting desires of the board, management and shareholders

Though often portrayed as a romantic role, IR is far more like a tightrope walk

IR is often romanticized as a career of jet-setting around the world, charming analysts with witty anecdotes and basking in the warm glow of a booming stock price. 

But I can tell you it’s far from a one-way ticket to a champagne brunch on a yacht. Instead, imagine me perched on a tightrope, juggling balls labeled ‘management’, ‘board’ and ‘shareholders’, each with wildly different expectations and a penchant for drama. 

IROs are interpreters, diplomats and translators of complex financial jargon into digestible soundbites. We’re the lightning rod for anxieties on all sides, constantly caught in the crossfire of conflicting demands.

Here are the main challenges of navigating the Bermuda Triangle of a company’s board, management and shareholders. 

The management-board tug-of-war

Imagine a corporate tug-of-war, with management pulling for optimism and the board anchoring itself to realism. As an IRO, you’re stuck in the middle, trying to balance rosy projections with cold, hard facts. Management wants to highlight exciting growth opportunities, while the board demands cautious communication to manage expectations. Finding the sweet spot – where honesty meets enthusiasm – is an art form.

To address this, transparency is key. It is important to build trust with both sides by presenting comprehensive, balanced information. It’s crucial not to sugarcoat bad news, but also vital to avoid unnecessary pessimism. Instead, frame challenges as opportunities and remember: clear communication goes a long way in mitigating tension.

Shareholder diversity

Shareholders come in all flavors: short-term traders, long-term believers, activists with megaphones. Their interests, goals and risk appetites are as diverse as the colors of the rainbow. You’re tasked with keeping them all informed, engaged and – in essence – happy. 

That means it’s paramount to know your audience, segment your shareholders and tailor your communication accordingly. It’s best not to bombard everyone with the same information. Instead, cater to short-term traders with frequent updates and market-driven analyses, while engaging long-term investors with strategic vision and future growth plans. And for the activists? Well, prepare for open dialogues and address their concerns with transparency and respect.

Information avalanche

Financial data, market trends, competitor analysis – it’s a tsunami of information crashing down on you daily. Keeping up and translating it into digestible narratives for different audiences is no easy feat. You’re basically a human Google Translate, only for the world of finance.

You have to be a master of information synthesis. It is critical to develop concise, compelling narratives that cut through the noise and resonate with each audience. Using data visualization tools and clear, jargon-free language is key to making complex topics accessible. Remember: less is often more when it comes to investor communication.

Navigating the maze

So how can you survive – thrive, even – in this high-wire act of investor relations? Building good and strong relationships is one of our key requirements. To do this, we need to get to know key stakeholders at all levels – management, board and investors – which we do by fostering trust and open communication. We are able to translate complex data into compelling narratives that resonate with any audience. In essence, we become the financial storyteller. 

You know the hardest thing to do is to be honest and sincere, so we need to embrace transparency. The market is a fickle beast. You need to be ready to adjust your communication strategy at a moment’s notice. In other words: expect the unexpected. We also need to constantly update our knowledge of the market, industry trends and regulatory changes. Believe me, if I am out of the loop for a day, I feel like I am behind. Writing, public speaking and active listening are my weapons of choice. 

A rewarding tightrope walk

So, yes, investor relations is a juggling act, a tightrope walk, a chess game played blindfolded on a roller coaster. But let me tell you, it’s also incredibly rewarding. When you build trust, bridge communication gaps and help create a thriving relationship between a company and its investors, it’s like witnessing a magic trick. You’re not just balancing pins: you’re helping build a financial ecosystem that’s healthy, sustainable and – dare I say it – exciting.

So if you’re looking for a challenge that will test your intellect, refine your communication skills and give you a front-row seat to the drama of the financial world, then step onto the IR tightrope. Just remember to pack your humor, your honesty and a good pair of walking shoes. The view from the top is breathtaking.

Muge Yucel is director of IR and sustainability at Galata Wind

Müge Yücel

Müge Yücel is director of investor relations and sustainability at Galata Wind Enerji AS. Galata Wind is a renewable energy producer with wind and solar plants. It is known as the first green IPO in Turkey and went public in April 2021. Yücel is...
Director of IR and sustainability at Galata Wind Enerji AS