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IR Society Annual Conference 2019: Leading change and driving value

IR Society Annual Conference 2019: Leading change and driving value

Debbie Nathan Investor Relations, Market Insight

The Carter Murray Investor Relations & Communications team were delighted to attend the IR Society’s 33rd Annual Conference in June, which was attended by c.400 IR professionals and service providers. The theme was Leading change; driving value and it covered political, market and regulatory change.

The stakeholder base for IR to communicate with has inevitably grown and includes clients, suppliers and governmental entities, among the more traditional buyside and sellside communities. This makes delivering a consistent message more challenging, but more impactful. Companies must have a purpose – this helps to satisfy a broader range of shareholders.

There was a panel of buyside representatives sharing views of what is on their agenda and priority list. Activism can encourage more diverse ways of thinking and more successful for delivering shareholder value. It is not always a bad thing, and can help management refocus.

IR professionals from Sainsburys and Easyjet discussed some of the impacts of Mifid ll and what has changed for them. The usual increase in direct access with buyside, reduced sellside coverage were both felt. Interestingly, it was mentioned that corporates should take more ownership of consensus, putting it on their website to help “impose quality control”. With the reduction in “maintenance research”, many analysts are stopping maintaining models, and therefore consensus is tough because of “outliers” etc.  Small caps have the challenge of getting access to potential shareholders due to the lack of thematic notes and research on their stock.  So as a small cap, you need to be more proactive to get people to listen to your investment thesis.

Driving value through ESG was discussed at length, and how to manage the time consuming and resource draining element of completing requests for ESG information, and putting in place infrastructure to accurately collect relevant information and embed this within the corporate sustainability strategy. The overarching view was that buyside embed ESG principles in broader investment decisions, not ESG in isolation, but a key part of investment decision making. Read more about this article here.

The conference concluded with the question, “what does good IR look like” and Sarah Bates, Chair, Merian Global Investors said “when it works well, it is like a bridge between the company and the outside world. IR can encourage a company to produce and order information in ways that help investors but they also must explain to the management why investors are concerned about something.”

Throughout the day, there was a  technology “exhibition” demonstrating the rapidly increasing importance of the role of technology within IR. We spoke to a number of the providers there and have prepared a summary of these changes in the next article here.