At the IR Society 2019 Best Practice Awards I will present the award for ‘Best newcomer to IR’. This prestigious award showcases the outstanding new talent within IR. All the nominees are still in the early stages of their IR career and have been selected based on their outstanding achievements to-date, high performance and are seen as the upcoming stars in the IR world.
In this two-part interview series, I recently caught up with four of the nominees (who work in different industries) and asked them to reflect on their first 12 months in IR. We discussed the surprises they’ve come across in their new career/role, the most exciting parts of their job, what advice they’d give to anyone wanting to move into IR and finally (and most challenging) …describe IR in three words.
In this interview I spoke with:
- Andrew Carter, Director of Investor Relations, Rotork
- Shaun Yates, Head of Investor Relations, AJ Bell
What surprises have you encountered in the role which you didn't anticipate?
Andrew: I’ve been particularly surprised – and pleased – at the wide-ranging nature of the role. I’ve had more time with my senior management team than I expected; had more board interaction; been involved in more strategic aspects of the business than I expected; and spent more time with our advisors and our investors one-on-one than I expected. As I’m a one-person IR team I’ve had to quickly learn the importance of trusted advisors – they matter. I knew the move from poacher to gamekeeper would expose me to lots of new areas that I have not experienced before – it certainly has!
Shaun: I have been surprised at the breadth of the role and the number of stakeholders who are actually interested in what IR has to say. Coming into the role ahead of our IPO, I thought IR was primarily about liaising within institutional investors and analysts. However, the level of engagement goes much more than that, including AJ Bell staff, our retail shareholders, the media and various consultancy/advisory businesses, who all have different reasons to want to engage with IR.
What advice would you give to others looking to move in to IR?
Andrew: I know a lot of people would like to move to IR, whether it be from equity research, corporate broking or financial pr. I’d definitely recommend it – I’ve really enjoyed my first year. I would say, however, that because of the nature of the work you’re more likely to be successful securing your first IR role through your existing contacts. These are the people that know you, and will have no doubts about your abilities, integrity and enthusiasm. I’d also say, go for it and good luck
Shaun: I think the most important thing for someone moving into IR to do so in a company where IR is taken seriously as that means it is far more likely that the Board and exec team will be willing to invest time and resources into doing a good job, and your efforts will be noticed. If it’s not taken seriously by the business in general, the IR role will quickly start to feel unrewarding.
Before deciding to move into IR, it’s also good to understand exactly what IR entails by speaking to other IR professionals and/or attending a course. Before I moved into IR, I had a one-to-one ‘Intro to IR’ session with Makinson-Cowell and attended an ‘IR Fundamentals’ course with the LSE. This was definitely a great way of learning about the different aspects of IR before doing it for real, i.e. what is the difference between buy/sell side, what are the rules and regulations around disclosure, why is shareholder analysis important?
Finally, what three words would you use to describe your first year in IR?
Andrew: Strategic. Stimulating. Wide-ranging
Shaun: Varied. Interesting. Different