Why worry about direct investor access
We have experienced a steady increase in direct investor outreach over the past three years. This trend is expected to continue for a number of different reasons. The main driver is that more and more investors are expecting a pro-active approach from IROs and are clearly communicating their interest in remaining in direct contact with them. In our discussions with IR teams, they often express frustration with the fact that the reach of brokerage firms is shrinking; this results in a closed loop in terms of investor meeting proposals, and meeting new potentials becomes a challenge. Another reason mentioned by IROs is the occasional conflict of interest that arises when a brokerage firm’s top pick for a meeting is not necessarily an investor that the IR team believes to be best-aligned with the parameters important to the company.
A case for dedicated investor access teams
Organising corporate access events without the support of traditional intermediaries can be a challenging task. Identifying the right counterparts requires data and experience, while reconciling the busy calendars of the investor contacts and the company’s presenting team remains a chore. It is therefore not surprising that large and mega cap companies were the first to either complement or sometimes even replace broker-organised investor events with direct investor outreach. They have the luxury of more sizeable IR teams able to staff an investor access desk.
Smaller IR teams often have their hands full even without the additional burden of self-organised investor meetings. After all, investor meetings are only one element of the broad scope of an IRO’s responsibilities. At the same time, being able to maintain a wide investor audience can be more challenging for those outside the large cap arena, even though it is equally important to them.
The rise of tools
IR teams are not the only ones facing the challenge of maintaining continuous engagement with their (target) contacts. Every account management team faces similar challenges. So, just like in account management, a well-maintained CRM system is the best starting point. Many of today’s CRM systems even come with a scheduling tool simplifying slot confirmation. However, there are pronounced differences between the tasks of a sales representative and those of an investor relations officer. A dedicated tool taking into consideration which parts of the value chain have traditionally been covered by the intermediary and successfully digitising these workflows will prove to be more efficient, freeing up the IRO’s time for tasks that add more value than simply arranging a time to meet.
Taking the workflow to the next digital level increases efficiency and effectiveness
While a well-maintained CRM system may be the starting point, complementing CRM content with data available from outside sources gives the IRO extensive insight into a contact. It puts the IR team in a position to prioritise the right engagements and personalise their approach based on the data. A good third-party database will also offer the opportunity of identifying additional target accounts. The combined list of investor contacts filtered by relevance will then form a target audience for informed investor outreach. Whether the dialogue is then organised directly or by utilising a broker is a decision which can be taken on a case-by-case basis. Being able to direct the broker to specific investors while the IR team organise certain appointments themselves will almost certainly lead to better results and facilitate long-term relationships with the right investors.
Some rules to ensure a smooth investor experience
Keep it simple: When reaching out to investors electronically, make sure the process is simple and self-explanatory. Investors will appreciate it if they can save valuable time as well.
Keep it concise: Think of the introductory paragraph as the elevator pitch for your meeting. When opening the invitation your audience should be able to understand the process at first glance. Make sure the CTA to initiate next steps is clear.
Keep your audience in mind: Different investor types may have different motives for following your company. Do not overload your introductory paragraph by trying to cover them all. Consider personalising your invitation by breaking down your target audience into categories.
Provide alternatives: Do not risk a no-response caused by your proposed times not matching a potentially keen investor’s schedule. Be sure to include the option of arranging alternative times.
Consider your timing: Be sure to minimise the chance of invitation getting lost in an inbox which fills up overnight. If you are reaching out to investors in various time zones you may want to split the process up to improve your chances of catching the investor’s attention during the day.
View the invitation as part of a process: Investor experience does not end with the electronic invitation. It is the start of a digital journey. Use the opportunity to help the investor prepare for the meeting by including useful links in your confirmation. Prepare for follow-ups by automating key next steps.
Founder and Managing Partner
About the author:
Maria is one of the founders of ACCNITE onDemand. Maria started her career in investment banking. During her roles in Equity Capital Markets and Equity Syndication, her responsibilities included target investor identification and the organisation of investor outreach.