Rewarding best practice in investor relations

As entries close for the IR Society’s 2018 Best Practice Awards, attention turns to the 20 November awards dinner. Sallie Pilot sets the scene.

IROs are on the front line of investor engagement and as MiFID II makes its mark, it has never been more important to ensure that you have a well-articulated and easily understood investment case. This was the resounding message from judges and past winners at the session on ‘Best Practice IR – Developing a winning toolkit’ at the annual conference in June. A few of my key takeaways were:

  • know who ‘you’ are – every company is different so make sure you are; 
  • think like an investor – understand your audience and get to know ‘what’s important’;
  • make it human – relationships are really important, don’t forget that!; 
  • get the fundamentals right – build your skills and experience so that you can be an effective substitute for your management team;
  • be consistent – ensure that your equity story is effectively weaved into everything you do and ensure you are giving a holistic view of your story;
  • get internal buy-in – make sure that you are giving something back to your internal stakeholders and have a ‘two way flow of information’; and 
  • little and often – regular communication is important, not just waiting for the key moments on your financial calendar

The promotion of best practice in IR is one of the cornerstones of the IR Society’s existence, and the annual Best Practice Awards, now in their 18th year, play a crucial part in this. Judged by a panel of esteemed investor relations and investment community professionals, the awards recognise companies’ best-in-class demonstration and thought-leadership of clear and consistent investor communications.  For those who have entered this year, the benefits and notoriety that come with competing could add genuine value to their role, and your business. 

Award opportunities
Our self-entry awards categories include separate awards open to FTSE 100, FTSE 250, small cap & AIM, and international companies. These awards recognise the diverse range of companies looking to the UK to showcase excellence in IR according to five categories:

  • the Grand Prix Award – this is the best overall communication of company investment proposition;
  • best annual report;
  • most effective integration of ESG – this award has been adapted to reflect the evolving environment in investor engagement and growing focus on environmental, social and governmental (ESG) issues. Particularly as businesses are expected to adopt a more thoughtful and pro-active approach to a wider societal purpose;
  • best digital communications;
  • best IPO IR communications;
  • peer-voting awards;
  • best newcomer to IR (individual);
  • best IRO ‘The Roddy’ (individual);
  • best overall company IR (company); and
  • best investor engagement (investor) – this award is decided by company IROs for an investor/buy-side firm that the investment community believes represents the leader in investor engagement with companies.

Benefits of entering
The business environment is challenging, recognition is scarce, time is short and these awards are an opportunity to demonstrate what a major difference each one of us can make to the companies we represent:

  • evidence excellence – to win or to be shortlisted shows that you have reached the very highest standard, as judged by leading experts;
  • raise your profile – gain exposure with your peers, internal and external stakeholders, and strengthen your corporate reputation;
  • make your company proud - it’s a great recognition for all of the hard work, commitment and dedication that goes in every day;
  • reflect on your work – the process of entering the awards often helps one to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your organisation’s communications strategies. Also, the awards usually provide a springboard of ideas for improvement or highlight areas to focus on for the future; and
  • incentive to improve – the competitive nature of the Awards provides an opportunity to challenge the internal ‘status quo’.

For further inspiration
We are looking forward to this year’s awards dinner to see the which companies and individual IR practitioners have achieved recognition for their performance. The Society expects that the standard will continue to rise and the difficulty for the judges will increase accordingly! 

Sallie Pilot is director of Black Sun and chair of the IR Society best practice committee. 

Published 26 July, 2018

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