Last week, IROs gathered at the TD Tower in Toronto to discuss the biggest issues affecting the Canadian IR community. There was plenty to discuss, from how to target in a volatile market to ESG fatigue and the ongoing shake-out between virtual and in-person engagement. Below, we pick out five takeaways from the IR Magazine Forum – Canada 2023.
Rethink your peer group
Companies commonly target investors that hold sector or market-cap peers but you can think of peers in other ways, such as issuers with a similar dividend policy or growth trajectory. ‘People are going a level deeper, where they’re changing up their peer group,’ said Mark Fasken, co-founder and chief operating officer at Irwin. He suggested IROs ‘peel back the layers’ on investor holdings to find out whether they invest in companies with similar fundamentals.
Spend more time with HR
With social issues becoming more of a focus for investors, IR teams should make sure their strong internal relationships extend to the HR department, the audience heard. ‘If, in IR, the only time you’re talking to your HR team is during scheduled Outlook meetings, you’re probably missing out,’ said Gordana Terkalas, senior vice president and head of human resources at Aecon. ‘We talk on a regular basis about ESG-related matters… as they come in real time. And we leverage each other as experts in our own respective fields.’
Balancing in person with virtual remains a challenge
‘It is something that is evolving and, frankly, will continue to evolve,’ said Omar Javed, vice president of IR at Hydro One. ‘We see very strong demand picking up [for] in person but there are significant challenges and scheduling happens to be one of them. It seems no investor wants to have in-person meetings on Mondays or Fridays. But I think nothing replaces – for me at least – an in-person meeting: the ability to generate rapport and trust with the investment community is not [there] on Zoom.’
Some events are better online than others – but offering choice is good governance
During the forum, audience members were asked to rank which investor events are best suited for virtual delivery. Annual general meetings came top, followed by non-deal roadshows and investment conferences. Investor days and site visits came last, indicating the audience felt these should be done in person where possible. Ben Riley, head of business development at Lumi, noted that it was ‘good governance’ to offer choice via hybrid events. ‘If you want to physically attend, you can, but if you can’t, we have that option of attending online as well,’ he said.
Career-wise, you’ve got options
The broad and diverse skillset required by IR means it opens up lots of doors for where you want to take your career, said panelists. ‘I view IR as a ‘choose your own adventure’, and you can make it whatever you want [it] to be,’ said Maeghan Albiston, vice president of capital markets at Canadian Pacific Railway. ‘It’s a high-profile role in an organization. You have to become very knowledgeable in a number of different areas in your business. As a result, you can end up being an individual who can be planted in multiple different spots in an organization – or [you can] catapult into more of an advisory role or start your own consulting services.’
Learn more about the IR Magazine Forum – Canada 2023 here.