Opinion: Changing the way IROs work
Investor relations has changed a lot in 30 years. Today’s financial markets are much more complex: alternative finance and many new investment instruments have made it harder to identify shareholders, while new classes of investors have emerged with different – sometimes opposing – expectations.
Shareholder communication has evolved and now includes new goals and topics of discussion. Regulatory developments have escalated over the past decade in response to an evolving market and new concerns, such as ESG. These added dimensions allow companies to explain how they create value in greater detail. But when communicating about them, IR professionals must strike a fine balance between providing the standardized metrics market participants need to compare companies and the personalized information that allows them to truly understand an individual firm’s DNA. In addition, digital technology is transforming the speed and scope of information sharing, and new revolutions are on the horizon.
IR is increasingly multidimensional and cross-functional: it stands at the crossroads of finance, communications, legal affairs, corporate strategy, governance and CSR, and calls for insight into an increasingly unsettled global landscape. Investor relations officers are responsible for regulatory compliance and must ensure all corporate communications are compliant and consistent. Information must be accurate, precise and sincere; it must also treat investors equally and be uniform and consistent over time, while clearly explaining the company’s performance, business model and strategy.
These are the far-from-easy ongoing challenges of financial communications, made even more daunting by the rise of stringent regulations and new technologies that are changing how IR professionals work. The tools we use are becoming more and more powerful. The core of the job, however, is still the soft skills needed to form and foster a relationship of trust between the company and its investors.
This human aspect has always been part of our DNA at Cliff: sharing experiences and expertise, day in and day out, is our raison d’être. Working together, we are constantly looking for better ways to learn, collaborate and succeed. We put our hearts into this work, and we do it with a smile. Our values – professionalism, ethics, sharing, trust and conviviality – are informed by our profession. They have been our foundation for 30 years – and will serve us for decades to come.
Here’s to another 30 years
There must have been something in the water in 1988 because Cliff, along with IR Magazine, also sees its 30th anniversary this year. The association celebrated the milestone earlier this year by hosting a full-day seminar with high-profile speakers, including Legrand CEO Gilles Schnepp, Orange CEO Stéphane Richard, French regulator AMF’s chairman Robert Ophèle and former Publicis chairman Maurice Lévy, followed by cocktails and a gala dinner at Hôtel Potocki, home to the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The highlight of the day was the presentation of the French IR awards, now in their 10th year. Gilles Arditti of Atos (best investor relations overall), SEB’s Thierry de la Tour d’Artaise (best IR by a CEO), Khaled Draz, CFO of CS Communications & Systems (best IR for a small or mid-cap), LVMH’s Jean-Jacques Guiony (best IR by a CFO), BNP Paribas’ Stéphane de Marnhac (best ESG communications) and Sopra Steria’s Olivier Psaume (best investor presentation) were all applauded as they were awarded a prestigious trophée des meilleures relations investisseurs.