IROs are fast becoming used to holding investor days either wholly virtually or as a hybrid virtual and in-person event. But virtual engagement is no new concept. Long before any of us had even heard of Covid-19, many companies’ earnings updates saw them share financial news in phone call meetings, and ‘down the line’ one-to-ones with key investors were, and continue to be, a regular occurrence in the C-suite diary.
But there is certainly a big difference in terms of the budget, organization and content required for a virtual or hybrid investor day compared with a phone call. So what are the vital elements IROs need to be mindful of during their planning and execution?
Daniel Cravens is vice president of global IR at Alcon, a US-Swiss medical company specializing in eye-care products. ‘I think the key is knowing you’ll need to be flexible in your planning,’ he says. ‘Given the large transition to virtual meetings because of the pandemic, people got really comfortable with using platforms like Zoom to carry out meetings that were traditionally done in person. It was a great substitute for face-to-face meetings and was fantastic from an efficiency standpoint, but it also came with a lot of limitations. For example, you couldn’t read the body language in the room.
‘So as we plan our own capital markets day for 2023, we intend to offer a hybrid event, knowing that a certain small number of investors will opt to listen in remotely. Those investors will get all the same rich content presented but they will miss out on the experiential part of the day, including things like a plant tour, an opportunity to use some of our equipment in a lab setting and even a happy hour with our leadership team.’
Timing and technology
Brian Lantz is vice president of IR and communications at multinational plumbing and heating products distributor Ferguson. ‘I have created eight investor days,’ he says. ‘Most of these have been in person with some hybrid participation. The last one I held in January was totally virtual.’
Ferguson’s fully virtual investor day started at 9.00 am EST/2.00 pm GMT, ideally timed considering the company’s US and UK corporate bases. ‘Make sure you consider all time zones you will draw from when you plan an event time,’ advises Lantz.
Today’s technology offers any company the ability to boost its virtual and hybrid investor day reach and engagement to increasingly elevated levels. Many events are now hosted by technology partners, but IROs still need to be aware of potential technology pitfalls as, for all its merits, technology can suffer a glitch.
‘Technology is critical so don’t take anything related to the execution for granted,’ Lantz warns. ‘Plan and test your technology multiple times – check and double check.’
Cravens agrees. ‘Be flexible,' he says. ‘As good as the technology is today, it’s still not perfect.’
This is an extract of an article that was published in the Winter 2022 issue of IR Magazine. Click here to read the full article.