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Jan 23, 2024

Driving meaningful engagements: The merits of the boutique consultancy model of corporate access

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The corporate access function originated at sell-side brokerage firms to facilitate mutually beneficial interactions between corporate management teams and institutional investors.

Successful corporate access teams fuel idea generation, drive investment decisions and ultimately impact shareholder value.

Over the last decade, the practice of corporate access has become commoditized as internal pressure to monetize this function at sell-side firms has increased. This dynamic can push the sell side to prioritize meeting allocations for a select echelon of their largest, most lucrative accounts – in effect shutting out access to management teams for much of the buy side and often creating an environment where corporates repeatedly meet with the same investors, unaware of the full spectrum of potential buy-side interest. 

To re-establish corporate access as a true value-add for both parties, the industry must address three key deliverables: full-demand transparency, white-glove execution and diligent pre and post-event support.

Full-demand transparency

The art of making a synergetic match can be lost when banks heavily prioritize connecting corporates with the same large funds again and again. Many corporate access teams tend to shield the full-demand picture from highly sought-after management teams, only proposing meetings with their most lucrative buy-side clients in an effort to create advantageous monetization opportunities for their firm via trading activity.

Focusing on the strategic allocation of meetings with investors that corporates haven’t traditionally been exposed to, such as new allocators and family offices, can expand and diversify the investor base.

Full transparency is key to ensuring these interactions are a valuable use of time for both senior leadership and investors, and a diversified investor base has a myriad of benefits, such as improved liquidity and reduced volatility. 

White-glove execution

The commoditization of corporate access has also impacted the sell side’s manpower and motivation to provide white-glove service to corporates – especially around logistical execution. Attention to detail, consistent communication and overall proactivity, which used to be inherent in the corporate access function, have been diminished.

Corporate access must return to these high standards to ensure the most effective execution. Teams should position themselves as a boutique consultancy and a trusted marketing partner to corporate client management.

Full lifecycle support

A widespread pain point for investor relations officers spanning all sectors is that corporate access teams rarely follow a company through the complete lifecycle of a marketing exercise. This pre-event targeting and post-event feedback compilation is frequently left to the corporate’s investor relations team to conduct by itself.

But corporate access teams are much better positioned to gather, analyze and distill investors’ qualitative commentary into meaningful and valuable insight. This analysis can then be leveraged to refine a management team’s narrative, tweak investor marketing materials and otherwise improve the content and delivery of future interactions with the market.

Corporate access should be more than just a copy-and-paste service. By executing these three deliverables, teams can revitalize the once-esteemed practice and drive meaningful engagements that benefit all stakeholders.

Kristina Leo

Kristina Leo is director of corporate access at Clear Street

Director of corporate access, Clear Street