Since the Covid-19 pandemic, issuers globally have taken a hybrid approach to IR. The latest IR Magazine Webinar in partnership with Lumi reflected on lessons learnt by the IR community from these new approaches to investor meetings. It also considered what the future of shareholder engagement could look like this year and beyond. Below are four takeaways.
Speed of response
Virtual IR conversations are trending in certain areas of the world. The reason? Speed of response.
‘Because we’re all living in real time with the tweets, the likes and the emails flying back and forth, I find that, especially in bear and volatile markets, it’s a lot easier to keep investors in [your] corner by just having a very fast response time to any concerns they’re having,’ said Sue Ennis, head of investor relations at Toronto-headquartered firm Hut 8 Mining. ‘Being responsive to the channels the investor wants to use has been pretty effective for us [as IROs].’
Ennis added that in the Canadian IR space, virtual engagement with investors is proving particularly effective – even more so for companies like hers that have a plethora of investors in and out of the US. ‘It’s a lot easier for us [to connect virtually] instead of having to get on a plane,’ she said.
The internet has democratized the dissemination of financial information
As hybrid formats gained ground, new platforms for shareholder engagement became available. Ennis noted that some virtual spaces, such as YouTube, are being increasingly used by investors and analysts alike to gather the latest news on market moves they can then feed up the company chain.
‘We’ve noticed with our institutional investors that junior analysts are all getting their research on the internet, on YouTube, and then feeding those ideas up to the ‘old school’ investors,’ she explained.
‘Even on the institutional side, I advise IR teams [to be aware] that those junior analysts are all using the internet and looking at these channels. Also, retail [investors] are looking at it as well so I wouldn’t completely ignore it.’
It’s becoming easier to make personal connections virtually
‘We engage so much on these different channels and it certainly helps people feel emotionally invested in your company and your story, [as if] they are part of the journey,’ Ennis noted. ’It’s like the Elon Musk factor – 85 percent of Tesla’s market cap is just Musk’s personality. I do think that’s where the trend is going: people want to relate to you as a company and relate to your values.’
‘People buy people they like’
The webinar ended with the panelists being asked to share their advice with IROs on how to embrace changes in the shareholder engagement space.
‘Stay relevant with the times and embrace digital technologies to drive more efficiency and sustainability,’ said Amit Bhalla, head of investor relations at Schneider Electric.
Ben Riley, head of business development at Lumi, advised companies to leverage the latest technologies available to optimize the quality and efficiency of their shareholder engagement: ‘Find a technology provider that’s going to be as innovative as you [are], [one] that is driving things forward and that is going to listen to you, to analysts, and is willing to embrace and take some risks.’
Ennis noted: ‘People buy people they like. When you’re representing a company, if [people] like you, chances are you’re going to get that trade. I cannot stress enough the importance of authenticity and being creative. I find that’s something everyone should focus on.’