What are IROs around the world concerned about? IR Magazine's editorial team checked in with associations representing the IR profession around the globe to find out what they have been up to in recent months.
Australasian Investor Relations Association (AIRA)
It’s well known that maintaining a stock market listing is not cheap but how much do companies actually pay? AIRA published research on this topic in September, looking at the annual costs for Australian and New Zealand issuers.
The study found ASX 300 companies typically fork out A$7.3 mn ($4.7 mn) each year, versus NZ$6.6 mn ($3.9 mn) for NZX 30 constituents. Across both markets, the three biggest contributors to costs are people, audit & assurance and directors’ & officers’ liability insurance. Fees for larger companies can be much higher, however: one survey participant reported annual costs of A$64.9 mn.
In other developments, AIRA has launched a new chapter for corporate ESG professionals, given the growing number of people working in this area and the strong overlap with IR responsibilities. The chapter will focus on data, reporting and engagement activities, AIRA chief executive Ian Matheson tells IR Magazine.
Middle East Investor Relations Association (MEIRA)
At MEIRA, final preparations are underway for its annual conference and awards, which take place on November 13 in Manama City, Bahrain – the first time the event is being held in the country.
The conference theme this year is ESG and creating sustainability capital markets, a critical topic for the region given its heavy reliance on oil and gas. Panel discussions will cover what investors really want from sustainability and how IR teams can integrate ESG. There is also a session on disruptive technologies, such as ChatGPT, and what they mean for the future of IR.
The event comes in a special year for MEIRA as the association celebrates its 15th anniversary. It will also be the final conference as general manager for John Gollifer, who is taking up a new role as CEO of the GCC Board Directors Institute. MEIRA is understood to be close to announcing his successor.
Deutscher Investor Relations Verband (DIRK)
With its 2023 annual conference in the bag, Germany’s IR association is getting started on 2024 plans. The event will take place across July 1-2, a bit later than in previous years, with a strong focus on artificial intelligence (AI). Kay Bommer, DIRK’s CEO, says he is looking for anyone with examples of how AI impacts IR. ‘There are not as many as you think,’ he says.
The association hopes to build on the success of this year’s event, where delegate numbers exceeded 2022 – already a big year – by 20 percent, says Bommer. The conference also saw many people attending for the first time, a sign that ‘the younger generation is coming,’ he adds.
Other priorities for DIRK include providing information on ESG in all its facets, especially on Europe’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, which is expected to affect 15,000 companies in Germany alone. Members are also interested in the digitalization of capital
markets. To investigate this area, DIRK is working on a study with the University of Leipzig about the sway of ‘finfluencers’ – financial influencers on social media – over younger investors.
The Israeli Investor Relations Forum (IIRF)
The IIRF is gearing up to host its IR summit on November 8 at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange to celebrate its fifth anniversary. The event will bring together IR practitioners, corporate executives and investors from Israel, the US and Europe, offering an opportunity to explore the challenges currently facing businesses in the region.
Iris Golani, founder and head of IIRF, says the Israeli IR landscape has evolved significantly over the past five years. ‘We’ve witnessed the kind of development one might expect over a decade,’ she notes. ‘When IIRF was founded five years ago, it was a challenge to get executives on board because companies didn’t initially grasp the importance of IR within their business.’
In addition to the summit, IIRF is making strides in IR education through its ninth IR training course, a pioneering initiative and the sole IR program available in the country.
The Danish Investor Relations Society (DIRF)
DIRF has just concluded its annual conference, which took place in Copenhagen on September 21. This year’s one-day conference recorded record attendance numbers, according to the society.
At the conference, DIRF also hosted a special session to celebrate its 35-year anniversary and looked at how IR has developed as a career over the years. The association’s director, Tina Høilund Pedersen, says: ‘IR professionals need to ensure they get close to the C-suite and the board so that management [teams] can understand how markets and the shareholder base of their companies are developing.’
The society is now working on setting up a series of networking groups for IR professionals to gather and share peer-to-peer advice. It is also exploring the potential rollout of a development course in ESG reporting.
The IR Society (IRS)
The UK’s IRS will hold its annual awards ceremony in November, which the association’s CEO Laura Hayter says comes at a time when the role of an IRO continues to expand in new directions.
‘Not only are we keeping our members up to date on regulatory changes through our policy work, including recent consultation responses – such as updates to the Corporate Governance Code and proposals to the listing rules – but we also continue to review our best practice guidelines and evolve our professional development offering,’ she says.
‘This year we launched our ESG: Essentials in IR course, which will be a regular fixture on our professional development calendar going forward. Alongside our professional development offerings, our members appreciate the various events and networking opportunities we offer to all career levels, with focused content on the topical issues affecting the IR profession.
‘Planning has also started in earnest for our conference: taking place in London in June next year, this is a great annual event for the community to come together, share best practice and network with peers.’
Associazione Investor Relations
Piero Munari, chair of the Italian IR association, says ESG-related topics and regulation – from the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive to corporate sustainability due diligence and the EU taxonomy legislation – are top of mind for the country’s IROs, as are a range of legal topics.
‘Other activities include induction programs for junior IR professionals, covering topics like shareholder activism, hedge funds and IR activity planning,’ he adds. ‘Finally, we definitely have a macroeconomic focus/outlook at the moment.’
Japan Investor Relations Association (JIRA)
Shigemichi Kondo, special research fellow at JIRA, says the organization has been celebrating its recent anniversary.
‘This year is the 30th anniversary since the founding of JIRA and our activities are focused on promoting companies that have IR strategies for building a sustainable society, while raising corporate value,’ he adds. ‘We want companies to see how they can do this through disclosure and dialogue with investors.
‘With the reform of the Corporate Governance Code in Japan, that will be another focus as we highlight the priority areas for IR.’