Outsourcing has always been crucial for IR teams. Given their small size – often with just a single, full-time practitioner – IR departments need to lean on a range of external resources to get the job done effectively.
But what should be outsourced and what kept in-house? It’s a question that will become more complex as new technologies, such as those powered by AI, offer to scoop up more of the time-consuming, repetitive tasks that underpin IR activity.
IR Magazine research finds that the proportion of the average IR budget spent on outsourcing climbed from 28 percent in 2022 to 34 percent in 2023.
The most common activities for outsourcing will come as no surprise: shareholder registration, investor perception studies, annual report design and proxy solicitation.
Similarly, the least outsourced activities are as expected: IR strategy, corporate communications and financial PR. Most companies want to keep tight control of their story and how it is presented to the outside world.
At a more granular level, tools are now increasingly available to help companies with individual tasks that used to suck up a lot of time and energy. For example, it’s now possible to extract key information from earnings calls and analyst models without having to do the dirty work of digging for it yourself.
While a huge amount of time is being saved, some IROs worry that relying too much on technology means they run the risk of losing touch with the market and what’s really driving investor decisions.
At Kering, which has the benefit of a six-person IR and financial communications team, department head Claire Roblet tries to avoid outsourcing where possible to help stay on top of the details and ensure new team members understand the basics.
‘People learn how to complete consensus and read analyst models,’ she told IR Magazine in a recent feature. ‘It’s extremely important to teach the younger generation how to do things.’
While outsourcing needs differ from company to company, all IR teams will need to consider the best way to make use of new tools while, as Roblet puts it, keeping their finger on the pulse of the market.
How do you make use of outsourcing within your IR team? And what risks do you see from an over-reliance on technology? Get in touch and let us know at email@example.com.