As part of the 2019 MEIRA Practitioners Report produced in conjunction with Carter Murray, several interviews with leading Investor Relations leaders were conducted. Below is an extract from the interview with Anca Cighi, Senior Director, Strategic Communications – IR lead, FTI Consulting . To access the full report, please complete the form below.
What are your thoughts on IR in the region? How has that changed? Where will IR be in five years’ time?
I’ve been here in Dubai for nine years and seen a lot of change, within Dubai and within the investment community. Markets are maturing and this is impacting IR and driving change - such as the Dubai Financial Market upgrade to Emerging Market status, the recent upgrade for Saudi to Emerging Market status etc. There is a lot of enthusiasm in the region around such events and we’ve seen an increase in passive funds after the upgrades. However, there’s opportunity to attract more of the actively managed funds and IR plays a key role here. It is critical that you generate trust with the investment community, and that you maintain that trust through regular communication.
There are other great initiatives underway to help attract more foreign investment to the region through regulatory movements such as making certain sectors and companies eligible for up to 100% foreign investment in the UAE. Companies that didn’t have to worry about communicating and engaging with foreign investors, suddenly have to think about international best practice and be prepared to engage in a two-way dialogue. IR can mean different things to different companies. If a company is closed to foreign ownership, most of the IR attention goes on targeting the local market, and on Arabic speakers. If an IR programme has the aim to build up the retail shareholder base, then increased engagement with the media is really important. If it’s a bigger company where the free float is open to foreign investors, it is fairly typical to see a more developed IR team, and appointed advisors, with a global mandate for interacting and targeting investors – this is closer to IR within the UK.
Additionally, there are economic reforms in the region that the governments are doing which are overall very encouraging for those that work in the IR space as it is creating a greater awareness for the investment opportunities available in the region. Previously, IR was thought of as part of finance, or PR. What we see today is companies building better IR functions and looking for talent with the right set of skills across finance and communication and the ability to manage relationships internally and externally. Hopefully five years from now we will see more transparency, more companies adhering to best practice IR i.e. a better understanding of how IR should look, how teams should communicate with the market, more of a two way dialogue focused on the midterm and long term business. There are many companies that are already there, and have a sophisticated and mature IR function, but many more with a long way to go. There will be more attention on ESG investing, but also ESG best practice relating to IR and corporate reporting in five years.
To read the full interview, download the 2019 MEIRA Practitioners Report.