A Competent Investor Relations Professional
Looking to fill an internal investor relations role? How is your search going? We know first hand how difficult it is to hire a qualified investor relations professional. Finding a competent candidate is like finding a needle in a haystack. They need to understand market regulations, and excel at financial analysis, writing, design, and sales.
Beyond the four essential skills shown in the figure above, an IR person must have grace under pressure. Maintaining and promoting a calm demeanor in intense environments is essential to supporting positive outcomes for management and investors. Someone who is prone to panic, who struggles to manage the unexpected, or who is intimidated by senior management and investors, can lead to ruin. A weak investor relations professional can put the company and its entire management team at risk. It is therefore mission critical to wait for the right person or the right team.
Marketing and Communication Skills
Steuart Britt once wrote that ‘Doing business without advertising is like winking at [someone] in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does’. The same concept applies to investor relations. To be successful, investor relations professionals must possess the following communication skills:
- Great written content;
- Compelling visual design;
- Knowledge of how to use modern marketing technologies to reach and retain your target audiences; and
- The strategic thinking to deploy all the elements of a successful marketing program.
The investor relations provider you select will need to translate your company’s story so that a lay person can understand it. Remember that portfolio managers and retail investors are not experts in your industry. Investor Relations should work to eliminate jargon and incorporate visual elements to simplify your message about the company’s value proposition, financial position and strategic plan.
the Regulations Governing an Investor Relations Professional
No matter where your company is operating, or what exchange it trades on in North America, your investor relations provider must adhere to a strict set of rules and regulations. Stock exchanges, securities commissions, and legislation at both the regional and federal levels all have worked to establish these rules.
For securities trading in the United States (“US”), the primary rules and regulations governing your investor relations activities include:
In addition, the rules set by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) impact US investor relation programs.
For securities trading in Canada, the primary rules and regulations include:
- National Instrument (“NI”) 51-102;
- NI 52-112 Non-GAAP and Other Financial Measures Disclosure *NEW*
- NI 43-101 for mineral exploration and production;
- National Policy 51-201; and
- Other policies as set forth by the various provincial securities commissions.
In addition, the rules of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) impact Canadian investor relation programs.
It is imperative that your IR provider know and respect the rules and regulations that govern your company to protect its credibility and legal well-being.
An accounting or financial analysis background is important. However it may not be enough. You need an investor relations provider who can also anticipate the information needs and questions of your investors and analysts. A person who knows where investors and analysts look and what questions they ask. And finally, a person that can weave the numbers and the narrative into a coherent package that makes sense to a lay person.
Investor Relationship Management
Investor relationship management is really another phrase for the broader activity of managing all of your capital market relationships. In addition to your present and future investors, this also includes managing sell-side partners such as analysts, investment bankers, trading desks and retail broker networks. Your provider should know how to use one of the investor relationship management platforms that are available to identify and screens potential buyers, nurture your relationships with broker-dealers, and tracks outcomes over time.
While finding a competent investor relations candidate is like finding a needle in a haystack, it is crucial to find the right person. The reputation of your company and the credibility of its management team in the capital markets hinges on their skills and professionalism.