Highlights included a keynote address from Professor John Kay, and a panel discussion on dealing with shareholder activism. For those who weren't able to sacrifice an entire day to reflect on the ABC of IR, here is a synopsis of five key insights:
The best IROs are people facing, have a finance background and have strong relationships with internal stakeholders - such as divisional heads - as well as external stakeholders. Most importantly, CEOs and investors alike value IROs for their trustworthiness.
When considering corporate governance issues, investors want to understand how decision making works at Board level and how this sets the 'tone from the top'.
Be consistent in the guidance offered to analysts when collecting forecasts for consensus. If a company changes what consensus is based on, then analysts will be concerned that what matters to the business has changed, too. Similarly, changes to the amount of guidance provided will cause alarm bells to ring.
The CEO and CFO know the company well, but the IRO often knows best what their investors are and are not interested in. Therefore the IRO should have some input when writing the key messages to accompany results, and other investor-focused communications.
For certain fund managers, if they don't like some of a company's policies (remuneration is a particularly sore spot at the moment), they won't vote against the policy at the AGM - they simply won't invest in the company in the first place.
As someone who has been on both sides of the agency-client fence, it’s my experience that talking about “brand” with investment management groups of different shapes and sizes more often than not incites a rapid furrowing of brows or glazing of the eyes…sometimes just an awkward silence.