Direct targeting at the Hartford Financial Services Group

Jan 10, 2017
<p>Investor relations case study taken from research report <em>Direct targeting: What&rsquo;s changed?</em></p>

Sabra Purtill, senior vice president of IR at the Hartford Financial Services Group, says her company sees targeting as a secondary activity to the nuts and bolts of IR, with its main function being ‘to see whether we are in regular contact with our leading investors’. As a mid-cap firm in the highly competitive insurance industry, part of this comes down to recognizing that larger institutional investors may have room to own Hartford stock across several portfolios where the company may fit.

Sabra Purtill, the Hartford Financial Services Group
Sabra Purtill, the Hartford Financial
Services Group

Purtill and her team also take time to regularly evaluate who peer companies are owned by, to see whether there might be a corresponding opportunity with those shareholders. As a result, there is not much room for the sell side to get involved. ‘We generally don’t use brokers or consultants for targeting as we do not find it adds much value,’ Purtill explains. ‘If a broker has a referral or a suggestion, however, we will follow up on it.’

This approach has changed over the past 12 months as Purtill has aimed to diversify the company’s fringe shareholding to a degree. ‘We have made more of an effort to establish relationships with smaller firms outside of the core Baltimore-to-Boston investor community,’ she says. ‘So we have been trying to go to Houston and Denver more, Boston a little less.’ This expansion has been kept relatively local for now, but Purtill imagines she might turn to the sell side for some assistance if targeting investors ‘in foreign markets where we don’t have much ownership and don’t visit frequently’, such as Europe or Asia.

Aside from that situation, however, the sell side does not offer much more opportunity to forge links with potential shareholders. ‘While I appreciate brokers talking to investors about our stock, I don’t think they always present a full or consistent story,’ Purtill points out. ‘Usually they just focus on their largest clients and that doesn’t really help us with our strategy of expanding our holdings to smaller and mid-sized regional investment managers.’

Her decision not to use brokers to shape targeting does not seem to have ruffled too many feathers. In the IR Magazine Investor Perception Study – US 2016, Purtill is runner-up in the category for best IRO at a mid-cap company, with members of the sell side queuing up to praise the effort she puts into maintaining relations.

Click here to download the Direct targeting: What’s changed? research report

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