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Oct 31, 2008

Tackling the issues: highlights from 20 years of IR Magazine

A selection of highlights from IR magazine's history, as part of a special 20th anniversary edition.

Autumn 1988
Issue 1: What to do when the chairman dies
IR magazine announced its arrival with a controversial cover story. The article picked out firms whose share price would suffer from the untimely death of a chairman and offered advice on succession planning. This prompted several letters of complaint, including one from a member of the UK’s House of Lords who doubled as chairman of a company or two.

September/October 1990
Issue 9: Japan looks West
The lead story reported on how the changing nature of Japan’s capital markets, and the growth of Japan as a global financial power, was forcing the country to embrace IR. Often, it was a steep learning curve. ‘Many Japanese executives are shocked by aggressive US or UK-style tactics, and find compliance with local regulations irksome,’ said one consultant.  

June 1994
Issue 30: Celebrity CEOs

A celebrity boss may help personalize a company to the public, but being too dependent on one individual has obvious problems. The article noted the announcement of Bill Gates’ marriage in 1993, to which the Wall Street Journal dedicated not only its front page but also a further 1,000 words.

Summer 1995

Issue 42: Winners & losers
By 1995, the IR Magazine UK Awards were into their fifth year and had become established as the UK’s most important annual IR event. The cover story offered a taste of the research underlying the awards, which canvassed over 500 fund managers and analysts. In 1996, IR magazine launched its annual US awards, with Canada joining the party in 1998.

June 1997
Issue 63: Investors on the couch
IR magazine delved inside analysts’ minds to find out what makes them tick. The first illusion to dispel was that the market is a rational place run by the numbers: ‘Even dour Alan Greenspan, whom no one would ever suspect of exuberance, refers to the ‘irrational exuberance’ of US markets, which implies he thinks investors are collectively on the upswing of a bipolar, manic depressive disorder.’

December 2000
Issue 100: Market dynamism
In the first of a three-part series on world stock markets, IR magazine reported on growing competition between the established national exchanges. As well as competition from each other, the exchanges also faced competition from a new breed of automated trading machines.

October 2002
Issue 122: New model IR
If the 1990s were the decade of shareholder value, declared the cover story, now is the era of corporate governance. The Enron and WorldCom scandals propelled governance into the spotlight, with issues like board independence and executive compensation coming to the fore. 

July 2003
Issue 131: Wall Street under reconstruction
IR magazine examined what Eliot Spitzer’s $1.4 bn settlement with Wall Street meant for investor relations around the world. It reported on the shrinking influence of the sell side that continues to this day. The sell side’s reputation has outlasted Spitzer’s, however, after the former New York governor and moral crusader was caught up in a high-profile prostitution scandal. 

November 2005
Issue 159: Crossing the street
Demand for IROs with financial skills was on the up. Analysts-turned-IROs were quizzed on their reasons for giving up astronomical salaries to cart reluctant CEOs and CFOs around the globe. ‘If you had asked me five years ago whether I would go into IR, I would have said, No way,’ said one of the converted. ‘But IR as a function within companies has become much more strategic.’ 

November 2008
Issue 195: Evolution of IR
And so we arrive at this month’s 20th anniversary edition. The lead article traces the evolution of IR and considers international differences in style. The financial crisis that provides the backdrop to IR magazine’s 20th year – rather like the 1987 market crash that preceded the first edition – helps demonstrate the continuing need for consistent and sophisticated IR, especially in tough times.