Consulting means listening

I was recently asked to participate in CIRI’s Mentorship Program, specifically as a mentor to a new consultant. This got me to thinking: what makes a good IR consultant? Knowledge of business generally and the accumulation of hard skills specifically are good starting points. But it’s not enough just to understand behavioural finance, corporate disclosure best practices or even how to conduct an investor perception survey. Soft skills are equally important. I have met many consultants over the years who possessed the requisite hard skills but failed miserably to master even the most basic...

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Investor Perception Survey

Investor perception surveys are used by leading companies in all industries. But do they meet their intended goal of giving management/the board greater insight into what investors/analysts really think? The answer, in my opinion, is no if the survey consists largely of questions that ask the audience to use scale-based ratings (i.e. what do you think of management on a scale of 1-5). Such surveys sound enticing. After all, what executive doesn’t want to say “my rating was 4.5, one full percentage point above the benchmark.” In reality, however, it is the anecdotal information, found in...

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Annual Reports – A wise investment?

Once the perceived cornerstone of investor communications, annual reports have taken a back seat to many other tools in recent years.  Nevertheless, “AR” preparation continues to occupy hundreds of hours of management time each year for the average mid and large capitalization company. Is it worth the time? A quick answer is no, if you don’t use the report wisely. To me, wise use of the annual report means developing non-financial content that is insightful, detailed and makes your shareholders want to read every page. Believe it or not, there are shareholders – institutional and...

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Investor Relations as a Career Choice

I have the pleasure of speaking to students about careers in investor relations on a regular basis. Their number one question: what skill sets do I need to get an IR job? Not an easy question to answer because IR requires a multi-disciplinary approach. I have worked with extremely effective professionals whose academic backgrounds range from journalism (my route into the business) and law to commerce and accounting. The common ground is the ability to think and act strategically. That is, to think like a CEO and an investor, because we work directly for one and indirectly for the other, and...

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IR and Social Media: A Trend Waiting to Happen?

On September 28 and 29, 2011, Federated Press will host an investor relations symposium in Toronto, bringing together practitioners from a variety of public companies and consulting agencies. I have been asked to speak on financial communications trends. Not to pre-empt my presentation, but one of the topics I intend to address is social media (“SM”) and its future as an investor communications tool. With a few notable exceptions, Canadian public companies have remained largely on the sidelines of social SM trends over the past two years when it comes to communicating with the investment...

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