IR Society webinar: IR in a virtual age

This webinar will look at some of the challenges facing IR teams at this time and some of the solutions available to them. In an increasingly challenging environment, the need for IR teams to communicate effectively with shareholders and other stakeholders is ever more important. This means that a high proportion of events and meetings that had historically been conducted face-to-face will now need to take place as virtually. This webinar will provide insights and practical options to help IR teams tackle a virtual events programme, including results meetings, roadshows, AGMs and capital markets days. Our panel will also being look ahead and discussing the long-term opportunities to integrate technology into the IR calendar.

  • Moderator – Michael Hufton, Managing Director, ingage IR
  • Tom Hinton, Head of Issuer Services, London Stock Exchange Group
  • Julian Smith, Managing Director, BRR Media
  • Caroline Dawson, IR manager, National Grid

Very sudden shift in the third week of March from physical meetings to live-streamed webcasts. It has caused extremely busy times in IR-teams (all hands on deck) to keep operational focus and keep the dialogue with investors and stakeholders in general. The new situation has created a lot of noise and is challenging for IR, but also gives a unique opportunity for IR to add further value to the corporation by communicating to the market. But very different to have back-to-back meetings on the phone instead of being on the road. In the process of planning there are now completely new issues to tackle – but try to keep everything as normal as possible. Interesting to see how developments will lead.

Video meetings and conference calls make it more difficult to get feedback and recordings from the meeting in place for subsequent follow-up. Also, not being in the same room as management must be addressed, and it requires prep calls between IR and management, and of what to expect from the call. Crisp content must be prepared for virtual use only with relevant, persisting content dependent of the format at hand. Also consider management preferences: audio, video / live, recorded. Presently, everyone is grateful to have some kind of solution regardless of its technical quality, but that will shift quickly with raised expectations.

IT security is an issue with different platforms available? Could it surface on platforms that are of concern? What systems can cope with high volumes? Now we learn as we go, but it can be a bit of a logistical challenge with many practical elements to consider whether it should be Skype, Zoom, Teams or something different.

How to manage Q&A when people cannot see each other? Groups bigger than 10 persons are difficult to handle virtually and requires some technical operations for questions not to be open to everyone. One advice is that IR can help management by handling the questions asked before passing them on to management. Group calls with a maximum of six people can be handled with questions asked directly, otherwise questions should be in writing.

Capital markets days in future? For companies, who have already announced a date, it will be interesting to see if the event will still be organized or put on hold. One idea could be to plan for a content consisting of pre-recorded material plus live Q/A once we are beginning to look ahead to the medium-term strategies. But a lot of testing is needed if the technical aspects are covered and also to assure that management are comfortable with the platform and solution chosen. No coordination of the various systems at the moment which could lead to a solution of the current sort of technical issues to be solved. In some countries, regulators have encouraged online meetings including AGMs (e.g. Norway) – but no general coordination. Will virtual meetings be enough to establish relations with potential investors in the long run?