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IR TV: Alexandra Higgins of Okapi Partners on stewardship meetings engagement

May 17, 2023
‘It made sense for the IR professionals and the corporate secretaries to come together’

The Covid-19 pandemic helped IR professionals cross over and engage more closely with stewardship teams, says Alexandra Higgins, managing director of Okapi Partners.

In the latest IR TV video, Higgins discusses how IROs have become more prominent in shareholder meetings with stewardship teams over the last few years, citing the pandemic as a top reason.

‘Over the last few years, we’re definitely seeing an increased presence of IR professionals in these meetings with the stewardship teams,’ she says. ‘I think part of it is because when we normally reach out to the top 25 investors on behalf of our clients, there’s the stewardship team, but there are also portfolio managers.

‘When those portfolio managers come on, it’s a little bit of a different language they speak and IR professionals are used to dealing with portfolio managers as well as analysts – so it just made sense for the IR professionals and the corporate secretaries to come together and do this engagement either in season or off-season.’

Learning curve

Looking at why IROs have become more prominent in stewardship meetings since the pandemic, Higgins says that while it was ‘a little bit of a learning curve’ in terms of bringing them together, ‘it’s actually worked out really well’.

When asked whether she thinks more corporate secretaries will be more present in the IR space, she adds: ‘I don’t know if that’s necessarily going to be the case. I don’t see the corporate secretaries necessarily joining those conversations. I think it’s been helpful for IR professionals to join the stewardship conversations because, in the stewardship teams, they’re not necessarily used to talking about last year’s financial performance or last quarter’s financial performance.

‘The corporate secretaries understand governance better. The stewardship teams are more long term, thinking about the long-term sustainability of the company. I think learning that language has been new to IR professionals.’