Fifteen percent of IR professionals come from the sell side, finds research

Mar 21, 2022
IR Magazine looks at career paths and life before IR – as well as the path before head of IR

Although a corporate finance background is the most common route into investor relations, with 30 percent of IR professionals boasting a corporate finance background, research from IR Magazine finds that 15 percent of all those who work in IR have come to the profession from the sell side.

That’s according to the fifth biannual Global IR Salaries & Careers Report. It finds that more than half (51 percent) of all IR professionals have some sort of corporate background, though corporate finance is by far the most common.

But a significant number – a quarter of all IR professionals – come from the capital markets, with a background in sell-side research offering the most likely path into investor relations. Five percent of IR professionals with a capital markets background have come from the buy side and 2 percent from corporate access.

Interestingly, those who have been in IR for less than five years are more likely to have come from capital markets than those who have worked in IR for five years or more.

Around one in 10 are simply career IR professionals: they have no previous professional experience and have always worked in investor relations.

Up the ranks

Regionally, different parts of the world more strongly represent these different career paths: North America has the highest proportion of IR professionals coming from a capital markets background (33 percent), Asian IR practitioners are most likely to come from a corporate background (55 percent) and Europe has the most people who have always worked in IR (18 percent).

Looking at market cap, small-cap companies not only have a higher proportion of their IR teams coming from a capital markets background but are also more likely to have team members who have always worked in IR.

And what about heads of IR? Breaking down the findings into IR lead and IRO, we see that almost a third of IR heads have a capital markets background – compared with just over one in 10 IROs. Just under two thirds of IROs come from a corporate background, compared with less than half of IR heads.

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