You’re no doubt aware that investor relations (IR) is a dialogue. It’s about explaining your business to the investment community as well as listening to their feedback. Competition for investor, analyst and media attention is strong. Neglecting these relationships can result in limited access to such audiences, and possibly financial loss.
Now we’re not going into detail about your broader IR strategy. Instead we’ll focus on one of its key elements – investor reporting. Before we do, it’s worth tipping our hats to the bigger IR picture, just to connect the dots between strategy, investor reporting and enterprise collaboration.
The remit of IR is not only to create an understanding of your company. Developing relationships with investors is a good way to gain cost-effective access to capital also. Another benefit of good IR is attracting liquidity – profiling yourself can attract pools of buyers and sellers who might trade your shares more frequently. Finally, talking to investors helps achieve a fair market valuation by detailing your performance and strategy. It also facilitates an understanding of how you’re being evaluated by the market.
When you boil it all down, the aim of an ongoing investor relations programme is to enable the investment community to have greater awareness of your commercial activities. That way, shareholders, potential investors, analysts and traders can make an informed decision on their involvement with you.
Now that we’ve talked a little bit about the importance of a wider IR strategy, it’s easier to see why clear, reliable and regular reporting is so crucial in bolstering good relations with the investment community. So the question becomes “how can you improve your investor reporting efforts by using enterprise collaboration?” Let’s break it all down and see what’s what.
Who are your stakeholders?
Well the obvious one is you (and your IR team if you have one). Perhaps you’re a fund manager, CIO, investment manager or Company Registrar. In any case you’ll be responsible (directly or indirectly) for providing things like shareholder information and reporting, general shareholder communication, portfolio management and meeting events.
Next on the list will be brokers providing support services such as disseminating market intelligence to clients, supporting them during results announcements, assisting with investor relations and performing shareholder analysis.
Then of course you have the press to consider. A newspaper’s opinion of your company could be the difference between your share price taking to the skies or plummeting off a cliff. And where do they get their information from? That’s right – analysts. So you need to maintain open dialogue with them both.
And saving the best for last – your investors. Whether they’re institutional or retail, they are the reason you’re in business. The interest and support of private client brokers and private investors are essential to stimulating demand for shares and liquidity. They must be catered for as part of your rolling investor relations programme.
Communicating with so many stakeholders about such different things can become unwieldy. Enterprise collaboration offers the technology to invite all these parties into a single space where you can talk to them together. Granular permissioning allows you to ensure the right message gets to the right person or group, and no-one sees anything they shouldn’t (preventing insider trading by creating ethical walls).
Use the right communication tool for the job.
In order to maintain fair and transparent markets, it’s important that you keep investors regularly informed about your affairs. A great piece of kit within enterprise collaboration is the social tool box, offering wikis, blogs, activity streams, liking, commenting and private messaging. From major announcements to one on one client relations, this plethora of tools should cover all of your communication needs.
Manage the financial calendar with confidence.
Providing stakeholders with regular news flow means and you’ll need to have an annual reporting calendar. The events module in enterprise collaboration enables them you to plan events throughout the year, such as the publication of annual and half yearly reports
You may hold cornerstone meetings (with institutional investors, private client brokers, sell-side analysts and the press) and communicate with your shareholders at the AGM. There may also be one off events like road shows, site visits, round table debates and conferences. And let’s not forget ad hoc events to ensure new developments are disclosed without delay.
Point is, news flow helps to balance the share price by keeping trading consistent. The events module allows you take control of upcoming events in the group calendar and manage milestones, deadlines, meetings, conference calls and other events.
Save money and the environment with secure file sharing.
The file sharing module in enterprise collaboration allows you to instantly share information (annual reports, account statements, capital calls, shareholdings and more) in a secure environment, accessible anytime anywhere. Auditing, work flow and search tools are thrown in for good measure.
Security is paramount. The files module has advanced folder and file-level permissions for users and groups (control who can access what at any level). Digital rights management protects sensitive documents and PDF encryption controls access rights (disable users’ ability to save, print or copy files and even add a watermark of the user’s details).
Communicating with stakeholders via a web based reporting suite (akin to the functionality offered by enterprise collaboration) has many advantages. Reduced reliance on unwieldy and unsecure email which are often lost in the wind and encourage knowledge to be siloed. Corollary to this is speed and convenience of communication for stakeholders. And just as important is the reduced environmental impact by going paperless, and fewer administration, printing and postage costs.
Manage your portfolio with panache.
The spreadsheet module in enterprise collaboration is an extremely powerful way of building and managing your large portfolio of investments. Create, filter and share data sets with investors and generate reports with accuracy, consistency and non-duplication. Document automation takes raw data and exports it into a bespoke Word document, ready to be shared with investors. Advanced management information offers in-depth fund analysis, performance metrics and even metadata. This module alone is worth the investment.
So, in a nutshell…
Enterprise collaboration as an investor reporting portal is a critical part of any IR strategy. It’s an opportunity to reach the widest investor community, to engage with them in an open and honest way, and build valuable relationships. Also worth remembering, it’s not the size of the budget you have, but the commitment you make to communicate. Embrace this new wave of collaboration and the rewards could be endless.