Investor’s Desktop

Over the summer we spoke to over 50 institutional investors to find out a little more about what tools they currently use on a daily basis in their investment decision process. A portfolio managers desktop would likely include a combination of the following platforms:

  • Financial data providers (for real-time prices, company fundamentals – both current and historic, public filings data, research reports, technical charts)
  • Sell-side analyst support (research reports, recommendations)
  • Screening tools (some through data providers, some internal)
  • Financial news terminals (international and local)
  • News and social media aggregation tools (including RNS)
  • Sell-side analyst consensus consolidators
  • Expert networks (communities of industry professionals on the ground)
  • Macro research tools
  • Portfolio risk analytics and valuation tools

Where does investor relations fit in?

Although the tools listed above provide investors with key fundamentals and perspectives on the company, there are a number of other areas where information that is critical to the investment decision is often more difficult to find. We have put together a checklist that summarises the areas that investors have told us are most important, and where investor relations can make an impact. To request this check list contact any of our team (info@closir.com) and they will be happy to share it with you.

Helping investors to fill in the gaps and reduce the noise is central to what Closir does. Based on the feedback above, we’ve built a simple, standardised template for companies that investors can access easily view, compare and integrate into existing research processes. View your current profile by logging in to Closir.

Middle East Opportunity for EM Issuers

This time last week we presented at ARFI’s IR forum on the subject of investor opportunity in the Middle East. For the benefit of those who weren’t able to make the event, we thought it might be helpful to summarise the key messages.

  • Middle East (ME) based Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) account for the vast majority (over 85%) of aggregated assets under management in the region. ME SWFs account for roughly 30% of all global SWFs under management (around $2.3tr). This compares to about $31.3tr in assets managed by mutual funds globally or $2.8tr by hedge funds.
  • To recap, ME SWFs are government-owned vehicles set up primarily to manage excess oil reserves with an overarching long term strategy to diversity away from oil. While each of the funds follow diverse investment strategies with varying emphasis on risk, safety and liquidity, in each case philosophy generally comes before asset appreciation. Therefore, until recently the majority of investment by these funds was held in cash/short term security deposits, sovereign bonds and equities managed by third party managers.
  • Over the last few years, SWFs have been steadily building up the capability to manage investments, including equities, in-house. Relatively speaking, equity assets managed by funds dedicated to emerging markets, and Russia specifically, remain small.  So while there are undeniably investment opportunities to explore in the Middle East and Asia, it’s worth maintaining a sense of perspective from an IR point of view when evaluating these relative to the US and Europe.
  • Internal versus external management and active versus indexing decisions are becoming more important for established SWFs as well as for intra-SWF collaboration, as shown by Saudi Arabia’s recent commitment to invest up to $10bn in Russia. The same themes are relevant for large developed market funds.

Change in demand for different Asset Classes by SWFs, ME and Global  2014 v 15

  • Outside of SWFs, regional second tier investment managers have a higher home market bias given the location of their liabilities and in some instances the regulatory constraints on asset allocation. Local asset managers also compete with global funds who have established offices in Dubai, Cairo and Riyadh to manage MENA (Middle East and North Africa) funds from the ground. Outside of MENA investments, the local funds have not yet reached sufficient scale to significantly broaden mandates and justify a review of internal versus external management for risk assets.
  • The third pillar is the region’s family offices. Given the persisting volatility in the global markets it is no surprise that they have been increasingly outsourcing their investments to wealth managers and advisory firms. This also partly explains the increase in international private banks setting up their operations in the Middle East during the last few years.
  • Saudi Arabia and Iran capital markets are opening up to international investors for the first time, presenting both local and global players hundreds of new investment opportunities. Regulators and exchanges in the region support best practice investor relations and in some cases (e.g. UAE) make IR compulsory for all listed companies.

Sources: Ipreo, Invesco, SWF Institute, KPMG, Closir. All data is as of Sep-2015, or the most recent available.

Have IR professionals lost their enthusiasm for social media?

This is a guest blog post from Sandra Novakov, a Director with Citigate Dewe Rogerson’s Investor Relations practice. Citigate Dewe Rogerson is the leading international consultancy specialising exclusively in investor relations, financial communications and corporate public relations.

Citigate Dewe Rogerson conducts an annual survey into investor relations trends across Europe and one of the topics which has yielded somewhat surprising results this year is the use of social media in communications with analysts and investors.

Looking back two years, when social media channels were expected to have a profound impact on the dynamic of communication between companies and their investors, it seems excitement levels have since dropped significantly.

The findings of our survey show a decline in the popularity of social media when it comes to five out of eight IR activities shown in the figure below. Whilst nearly all companies used these channels to publicise news and events in 2013, this figure has now dropped 26 percentage points, to 65%. Another notable change can be seen in the popularity of IR blogs – only 12% of IR teams use these to promote their views against 23% in 2013. So this is, somewhat ironically, an IR blog about the declining popularity of blogging in IR.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 13.54.31

Looking at trends in other IR activities, one thing is clear. The declining use of social media by IROs is by no means indicative of declining engagement levels with investors. When it comes to roadshow activity, 46% of companies are planning more meetings in 2015 compared to 2014. In particular, following several years of focus on continental Europe and Asia, there is a clear shift towards targeting US investors in 2015. In response to declining broker support when it comes to corporate access as a result of tightening regulations aimed at preventing fund managers from using dealing commissions to pay for services outside of research, companies are also taking greater control of investor targeting – only 5% rely solely on brokers and 24% are investing in either targeting tools, personnel, or both, with the aim of increasing their in-house competence. Furthermore, engagement at Board level is on the rise with a greater number of chairmen and non-executive directors seeing investors on a regular basis.Looking at the possible drivers of this trend, we see several contributing factors. Firstly, companies are increasingly more disciplined about their use of social media – 45% state they have a formal social media policy, against 38% in 2013. This undoubtedly slows down the process of issuing a tweet or publishing a blog, thereby restricting somewhat the effectiveness of such communication channels. Secondly, IROs have come to realise the significant time commitment that regular social media engagement requires leading some to the conclusion this is not the most productive use of their time. Thirdly, the extent to which investors value disclosure through such channels, in addition to the announcements and direct engagement they receive on a regular basis, remains debatable.

In addition to the greater frequency of contact, companies are engaging with investors on a broader variety of topics. The scale of engagement with investors on executive remuneration has almost doubled since 2014. In addition to board effectiveness and director tenure, which the majority of IROs across Europe touch on in their conversations with investors, our findings show that more than half of European IROs are engaged with investors on board diversity. Following the exponential rise in the number of information security breaches over recent years, a new topic to emerge on the agenda is that of cyber security. Given the significant financial and reputational impact of such events, investor scrutiny of companies’ preparedness for potential breaches is expected to increase going forward.

With rapid technological innovation and regulation-driven changes to corporate access and financial reporting, investor relations has entered a new era of opportunity and challenge. Now it is down to each company to make the best of use the new tools at their disposal and address the challenges they are facing.

About the survey

Citigate Dewe Rogerson first started investigating trends in investor relations in 2009 to gain insight into how companies were adapting to the uncertain times brought about by the 2008 financial crisis. Since then, our annual IR survey has gained a growing number of supporters, not least from IR societies across Europe including the UK IR Society, Germany’s Deutscher Investor Relations Verband (‘DIRK’) and IR Club. This has led to a record number of 193 IROs from Europe’s leading companies participating in this year’s survey to provide the most comprehensive insight to date into changing attitudes and practices from objective-setting, reporting and guidance to analyst coverage, investor and activist engagement to the changing use of technology.

The full report is available on our website at: http://www.citigatedewerogerson.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Citigate-Dewe-Rogerson-Investor-Relations-Survey-2015.pdf

Russian Issuers target Asia for the next investor opportunity.

Co-authored with Elena Biletskaya, EQS group, Moscow

ARFI (the Russian Investor Relations Society) most recently held an event in Moscow discussing Asia’s investment landscape and its attractiveness for Russian issuers. The discussion on this topic is timely given the recent wave of investment outflows from the market as well as sanctions imposed on a number of companies with government as a shareholder. A number of speakers from the companies side shared their thoughts, comments and case studies about their approach to Investor Relations in Asia. While there was general agreement about the scale of the opportunity, there are a number of considerations worth taking note of.

1- Although changing, Institutional investment investment mandates of Asian investors are broadly biased towards domestic opportunities. There is evidence of the investment market quickly evolving (developments ranging from global AUMs perspectives, to infrastructure/trading landscape, to reforms in pension funds).

2- Retail investors who play a large part in the market are interested in names and brands they can easily relate and identify with, an element worth considering in any future listing discussions.

3- Cultural differences often mean that Asian approach to investing is a longer game which requires commitment and a permanent place in the IR calendar.

From our experience, Investors in Asia expect same (if not higher) level of disclosure and excellence in communication as investors in Europe or US. They are diligent and opportunistic investors who see investing in EMs an important theme for this decade.

For us, the IR teams in Russia- It is certainly long game worth playing. As always we believe technology and digital tools can play a big role in supporting our efforts.

EQS Group_Presentation_Non-deal Roadshow

Framework of a Successful Corporate IR Strategy

 

455523e6e2c61bb8be7e8e457d67-post

Over the last couple of years we have witnessed a number of significant themes and developments in the capital markets, which have had an meaningful impact on how IR teams think about strategy today. Whether we examine global pension fund reforms, regulatory developments affecting institutional investors and their products, or consider the role that technology plays within the financial industry, we quickly realise how important it is for us not only to understand these themes, but also be able to assess the impact they can have on our strategy.

How do successful companies think about an IR strategy in a rapidly evolving market? A simplified framework, inspired by award winning practitioners, with a few supplementary questions, may provide some clues.

Prioritise your objectives

A good starting point in the planning process is to ask a fundamental question: what are the objectives of the IR team at your company this year? Those objectives should be as measurable as possible and revolve around creating and communicating your equity story and setting it within the context of attracting investors.

The objectives are designed to be carefully prioritised and regularly revised. Crucially every IR team member understands the specific role they play in accomplishing them and has a clear view of the definition of success. A discussion around priorities, both short and long term, often sets the tone for the remainder of the planning process.

Things to consider:

  • Does everyone on my team possess a clear understanding of his or her individual role in executing the strategy?
  • Have I communicated my plan to the main internal and external stakeholders?
  • Are my objectives also laid out alongside a calendar of key dates in the corporate IR calendar, as well as investor conferences, and non-deal road shows?

Enforce the key messages of your investment case

This part of planning involves taking stock of all market and company specific events of the previous year and crafting a succinct equity story. Second, it involves highlighting and articulating the most important elements that you would like to convey to the investment community. And the ‘how’ is often as important as the ‘what’. The most successful IR officers are in fact magnificent storytellers. They understand the competition of investor, analyst and media attention is strong – and with this in mind craft stories that are compelling, unforgettable, smart and often magnetic. They are able to answer the crucial question investors are asking: What makes this company so special?

Things to consider:

  • What macro or mega industry trends is my company’s equity story continually benefiting from?
  • What are the key non-financial metrics that matter in my story?
  • How are the main messages I want to convey to the market reflected in my investor material?
  • When was the last time I practiced a simplified two-minute “elevator pitch”?

Create a solid capital market toolbox

Many companies will attest that it is a vital exercise to discuss what available capital market tools would be most beneficial to help them achieve the objectives they have set out. The process often includes ensuring your collateral (composed of, say, an investor pack and presentations, one page fact sheet, management videos on strategy, IR website) is up to date and reflects the messages you want to convey to your investors and analysts. The choice of the toolkit will go beyond regulatory obligations you need to meet, and depend on the size and make-up of your current and envisaged shareholder structure and the level of analyst and media coverage your advisors can offer. Commitment on resources and budget is also essential.

Many savvy companies carefully monitor and research new tools and technologies that are being introducing to the IR marketplace. Throughout the year, IR Society and Investment Association conferences, as well as leading industry periodicals and surveys, provide good insights into this space and also into new tools.

Things to consider:

  • Do I have a complete view of the resources available to me (internal and external to my team, as well as those provided to me by advisors)? Are those resources satisfactory?
  • Have I created ample opportunities to identify any improvements or challenges to the toolkit so that periodic adjustments can be made?
  • Have I considered how technology based tools in the IR space can help me achieve my objectives?

Understand your investor opportunity

Often at the heart of an IR strategy, many companies take a technical, if not scientific, approach to identifying investor opportunity. A starting point is a comprehensive analysis of your own shareholder base factoring in significant movements over the past four quarters. Next, an institutional investor analysis of peer group, country/region and industry (adjusted to account for company’s size, fundamentals and liquidity) can provide a solid foundation for an investor targeting exercise. If possible, adding to this an overlay, which takes into account the latest fund news and developments, new fund launches and significant asset rotations, can be a useful part in your company’s opportunity map.

Things to consider:

  • Have we segmented our institutional investors and our targets? Do we understand their expectations and our approach to servicing them?
  • Am I confident that my non-deal road show and conference schedule sufficiently addresses the identified investor opportunity?
  • Do we understand the reach of equity sales teams within the brokerages that write research on my stock?
  • Are we spending enough time asking questions to investors and listening to what they have to say? How are we digesting those insights and feeding them into management/board? What other tools are we using to gauge perceptions from the buy and sell side?

Stay ahead of big picture trends

How is the capital market going to look in 2020? What investment products are growing in popularity today, and which ones are ebbing away? Which investment products have been receiving the most inflows over the last three years? How are new technologies affecting trading, capital raising and asset management industries? What impact will the current wave of regulation have on our closest counter-parties? What is influencing Asian investor behaviour and their appetite for diversifying their portfolios outside of domestic markets?

These are certainly fascinating questions, which will no doubt play an important if not transformative role in how the IR profession will look a few years from today.

Things to consider:

  • How do I stay up-to-date with global trends affecting my industry, the wider capital market and IR best practices?
  • Are capital market insights regularly shared and discussed across my team?
  • Does my reading list this year contain an in-depth study of at least one important capital market topic, new culture or global theme?

How Developed Market Investors are investing in Emerging Markets – perspectives from the IMF

The IMF’s recent report on financial stability makes a few interesting points about the evolution and concentration patterns of equity investments into Emerging Markets (EMs). In its recent paper titled “Curbing Excess while Promoting Growth”, it studies investment flows from advanced to emerging economies and leaves us with some food for thought from an IR standpoint.

First, the study quantifies a number of investment trends going back over a decade. It notes that global EM equity portfolio allocations increased substantially from 7% in 2001 to almost 20% in 2012. Fixed-income allocations followed suit, from 4% to 10% respectively. The data are in line with other similar studies, underlining the increasingly global focus of many investment portfolios as domestic biases, broadly speaking, steadily decline.

 Second, the study examines patterns relating to geographical concentrations of global EM portfolios. Out of the $2.4tr of equity assets under management in EMs in 2012, roughly 80% was invested in only 12 of the 190 emerging market economies, with China accounting for a large share of this.

 Third, and perhaps most striking, is the concentration of investors amongst the advanced economies. In 2012 over half of all equity portfolio investment in major emerging market economies came from the US, the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong, with the US alone accounting for about a third.

 The study goes on to suggest that given this degree of concentration, the possibility of tighter monetary policies in the US and UK could have a considerable impact on flows into the largest EMs, as well as on the synchronisation of asset price movements and volatilities.

 A few thoughts for Investor Relations teams in Emerging Markets

 These dynamics could be consequential for EM IR teams planning an investor outreach strategy in 2015. A few additional questions may be helpful to consider:

  •  What key external factors are influencing the decisions of my top foreign shareholders? Which of those factors have the strongest influence on my share price? How can I stay ahead of this issue?
  •  Have I compared my shareholder base with that of my country, region or peer group and analysed how it has changed over the last two years? Have I identified key targeting opportunities?
  •  How correlated is my share price and volatility to that of other main market indices?

Equity Allocations of Advanced Economies to EM Economies by Source Advanced Economy, 2012 (Billions of U.S. Dollars)

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 22.50.56 

 

Equity Allocations of Advanced Economies to Emerging Market Economies by Source Advanced Economy, 2012 (Billions of U.S. dollars)

 Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 01.04.15 

Equity Allocations of Advanced Economies to Emerging Market Economies by Receiving Emerging Market Economy, 2012 (Billions of U.S. dollars) 

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 00.51.00

 

Source: IMF, Global Financial Stability Report, October 2014

How to Use Technology to Keep Up with Growing IR Demands

IR advisory firm Citigate Dewe Rogerson recently released its annual Investor Relations Survey and while there were no blockbuster surprises, the results do show a clear and important trend.

Reviewing the summary of the report reveals a basic fact about the direction of IR: the levels of disclosure and engagement that are required for today’s investor relations are strictly increasing. A third of companies are increasing their disclosure in at least one area, and companies are looking to put more emphasis on sustainability reporting. On the engagement front, 43% of companies reported they will be increasing roadshow activity, and many firms are taking on more responsibility for targeting investors as well.

While some companies will add resources to meet the increased demands, many IR teams will find that they must do more with the same resources.

As the study points out, IR departments are looking to use technology to make their workload more manageable. While many companies are becoming comfortable with social media, most are still limiting its use to disseminating information. However social media holds the promise to be the most powerful tool available for better IR.

Let’s start with targeting. Social platforms allow members a channel to share their interests and connect to those with similar interests. The Closir platform brings this to IR by allowing institutional investors define their investment profile and then connect with companies that match their strategy. The investor’s activity on Closir also helps us connect and introduce them to investment opportunities.

For a company this means better investor targeting with the deepest level of insight on investors anywhere. Finding the marginal institutional investor has never been more efficient.

Social platforms can also increase the effectiveness of disclosure as well. The direct and two-way communication of social media allows investors to tell companies what they want to see for disclosure. On Closir, companies can get instant and on going feedback from investors on their disclosure practices. They can also see how investors interact with the information they disclose in real time through their profile analytics. And of course, Closir’s patented disclosure template makes a world class disclosure program incredibly simple and easy.

Citigate’s latest survey confirms that the increased demands and workloads that many IROs often speak about is an industry trend. Social technologies and media aren’t just a way to achieve better engagement and disclosure, they are an imperative to successfully deliver better IR in an environment where demands are guaranteed to increase but resources are not.