DIRK 2014: IR music to our ears
The 17th annual conference of German IR society DIRK, held in Frankfurt on June 16 and 17, was the occasion for the association to showcase its improved, more interactive format. The new set-up, which offered a first day of practical workshops held in different locations, aimed to tackle ‘the constantly growing demands on capital market communications,’ explains Kay Bommer, DIRK’s general manager.
This year’s 450 attendees had several tailored options to pick from, including media training from Finance-TV on how to deliver an effective television appearance, a seminar with representatives of the MDAX index, and an IR basics tutorial for the profession’s neophytes.
Those who had chosen to join the main event in the DVFA building were offered the chance to take part in an IR BarCamp session, a participant-driven meeting concept imported from the US. Attendees were invited to introduce themselves to the audience, suggest topics of their choice and then gather in different rooms to discuss them openly.
The afternoon session revolved around a best practice guide for sustainability reporting and was followed by a lively biergarten networking dinner where delegates could relax in front of the World Cup match of the day, Germany vs Portugal, which Germany won. This fortunate outcome added to the local bier and tasty bratwurst, allowing DIRK 2014’s first day to end in a jolly fashion.
On the second day, delegates gathered at the Westin Hotel, where the conference regained its historical trade fair format, with service providers such as Bloomberg, Ipreo and the like hosting booths and a choice of 16 ‘expert’ workshops to pick from, including sessions in English.
After a keynote speech by Dr Bernhard Günther, CFO of RWE, a conference was held in the main room on this year’s central theme ‘Wo spielt künftig die musik?’ (Where will things be happening in the future?). In a lively panel discussion moderated by Claus Döring, editor-in-chief of Börsen-Zeitung, potential outlooks for capital markets ‘at a crossroad’ were discussed, with deliberations on the growing importance of dark pools, high-frequency trading and debt IR, as well as the repercussions of European regulation on the international financial scene.
On a more practical level, a presentation on global targeting held later in the morning was particularly interesting for small and mid-cap IROs. With the top 100 institutional investors responsible for half of worldwide assets under management and the next 400 largest buy-side firms managing a total of 30 percent of those assets, it is vital for an IRO setting up a targeting program to reach out to those tier 2 institutions, explained a representative from NASDAQ OMX.
Citing a recurrent complaint from IROs about ‘always meeting the same people’, the NASDAQ representative gave a demonstration of how the firm’s software allows pinpointing of regional mid-sized or so-called ‘diamond in the rough’ funds based on a set of strict criteria. When asked by an attendee when an IRO should give up on a target investor, the answer was ‘never. You should be continuously engaging with it even at large group meetings or conferences. You never know when it might eventually come around.’
The conference ended with a gala evening where awards were handed out by Wirtschaftswoche to the best IR performers in the German market, based on a Thomson Reuters Extel survey. Deutsche Telecom, ProSiebenSat.1 Media, GfK and Aixtron were the winners for the DAX30, MDAX, SDAX and TecDAX indices, respectively, while this year’s winning IROs in the same categories were Oliver Schmidt from Allianz, Dirk Voigtländer from ProSiebenSat.1 Media, Ralf Dibbern from alstria office REIT and Guido Pickert from Aixtron. Finally, there was an award for the best fixed income IR, which was taken by Allianz.