IR webinar summary: The changing reputation of IR and managing resources (& your career) post-COVID

In our informative webinar today, our co-hosts Laura Hayter, CEO of the IR Society, and Oskar Yasar, Managing Partner of Broome Yasar, were joined by a high-profile panel of FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 senior IROs to discuss how recent events have changed the perception of IR within organisations, and how teams have been adapting and tackling the challenges and opportunities arising from the crisis.

A replay of this webinar is availalbe to members in our events archive

The role and reputation of IR

The crisis has highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of IR and comms, and the areas where companies may require additional skills and expertise in these functions. Those that are IR leaders are already shifting from crisis management to thinking about the strategic outlook.

During this period of extreme volatility, the role of IR has become more important internally, for example in communicating with employees and pension scheme trustees and being involved with wider areas of the business than usual. This was supported by our webinar poll results which highlighted that three quarters of listeners felt that the internal reputation of IR had been positively influenced and that the remit of the IR role had increased as a direct result of the crisis. 

Our panellists also felt that the crisis has highlighted the importance of IR as being a trusted counsel to the c-suite and board. 

The opportunities and challenges 

The lack of face-to-face interaction has been a big challenge, in particular for building new relationships such as with potential investors. Larger group meetings and conferences have unsurprisingly proved more difficult to manage virtually than one-to-one or small group meetings. Our panellists also found that regularly speaking directly with their top 5-10 shareholders provided better insights into what investors are thinking than relying on the brokers for feedback.

Internally, IR requires access to different areas of the business to perform its role effectively. There are a number of logistical challenges for the auditors and IR team in the lead up to results and it is important to block out time with senior management to ensure that key issues are discussed. 

In our webinar poll, almost 40% of listeners expected IR budgets to decrease over the next 6-12 months whilst a further 40% expected them to remain broadly the same and only 12% thought budgets would increase. Budget constraints may be an issue where the remit of the role is increasing and IR teams would like to hire additional resources to manage the workload. Roughly 50% of listeners felt their IR team is not currently adequately resourced. 

IROs may need to be more resourceful, for example in adopting a hybrid strategy for physical versus virtual investor meetings and roadshows in the future, which would reduce travel costs and the burden on senior management’s time. There may also be opportunities to reallocate resources internally.  

Professional development remains crucial to the role of IR. According to our poll, the areas that were highlighted as being high on the agenda for the coming year include ESG, IR regulation and reporting requirements, and engagement with the board. 

Thank you to our event sponsor, Orient Capital, and our panellists: 

  • Holly Gillis, Head of Investor Relations, The Go-Ahead Group
  • Thomas Kudsk Larsen, Head of Investor Relations, Astrazeneca
  • Stuart Morgan, Director of IR, Capita
  • Jo Russell, SVP, Investor and Media Relations, Pearson

Published 14 July, 2020

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