Spotlight on a top IR team: Continental
Rolf Woller, head of IR at Continental, scooped the best large-cap IRO accolade at the IR Magazine Awards – Europe 2017. Here he shares his IR views and experiences with ELITE Connect.
Elite Connect: Describe your event schedule over the past 12 months.
Rolf Woller: It’s been pretty busy – as always. The highlight was clearly our first capital markets day abroad at the CES in Las Vegas where we were oversubscribed in terms of participation. We had 60 analysts and investors attending and could have easily added another 40.
EC: What are the most popular investor queries you receive?
RW: We get many and varied investor queries but the top three would be requests to visit our advanced driver assistance systems and electric vehicle operations, queries on when we expect fully electric and autonomous driving to be in place, and questions surrounding the sustainability of return on capital employed in the rubber business.
EC: How does your team use technology and social media to convey IR messages?
RW: We webcast all of our events and, for Asia and North America, we use video conferencing to connect with audiences there. We run our own IR Twitter channel, @Continental_IR, which has almost 1,000 followers. Given the fact that we’re not combining the channel with our end-customer channels, this is a very solid number. For our staff communications, we post short videos on our internal social media platform, Connext.
EC: What are your current and future IR challenges?
RW: Given its recent implementation, Mifid II is causing more work as we make sure we are meeting and engaging with the right investors. Governance is another topic consuming a lot of our time. Unfortunately, investors have very different ideas of what proper corporate governance is in terms of board composition, management compensation and diversity so, from our perspective, it would be much appreciated if certain standards could be established. Finally, staying on top of the technology involved in all future auto trends is important.
EC: What is the one ‘hot topic’ at the moment?
RW: It would have to be governance. We’re seeing the altering and/or tightening of governance standards in many aspects on a yearly basis. Quite often, we’re experiencing conflicting aims and messages within this, which we need to address.
EC: What is the most important thing IR teams can offer to investors?
RW: It’s all about information – teams need to focus on disseminating accurate, timely, consistent and useful information to their investors. It’s vital that this includes an assessment of industry and macro trends to allow investors to make an informed and fair judgment on their investment.
EC: What top practical tips would you share with your IR peers?
RW: Internal communication is vital. IROs need to talk regularly with their senior management, making sure they are aware the IR team needs access to all relevant information. Management should also invest time in ascertaining how main messages can best be communicated. On a similar note, communication is critical when it comes to crisis issues – bad news won’t go away just because you do not disclose or comment on it.
EC: What is your biggest IR success?
RW: We receive excellent feedback on our IR team’s work and this is a massive confidence boost for us all. It’s reassuring that accolades – such as IR Magazine Awards – aren’t one-offs, but successes we have continuously enjoyed over the last 10 years.