Anil Dilawri » Company Management http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri Taking Investor Relations to the Next Level Fri, 24 Sep 2010 12:25:24 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Maintainers and Innovators in IR http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/09/24/maintainers-and-innovators-in-ir/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/09/24/maintainers-and-innovators-in-ir/#comments Fri, 24 Sep 2010 12:25:24 +0000 Anil Dilawri http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/?p=209 When it comes to investor relations I would say that the vast majority of companies are what I call “maintainers”.

Maintainers plan and execute many IR functions such as earnings releases, earnings calls, road shows, answering investor calls, maintaining a website, and helping executive management when needed.

Then there’s the “innovators”. These are companies and IROs brave enough to take the IR function to a different level – where IR functions actually get noticed and make a difference.

MOSAID Technologies is an innovator. One only needs to take a look at their Investor Channel to see how they are taking their traditional press releases and earning releases to a different level through the use of video. The result is captivating visual message that is targeted directly at the investment community.

Was it easy? No.

Was the rest of the world doing it? No.

Was it tradition (maintainer) IR? Not even close.

Was it compliant from a regulatory standpoint? Absolutely.

Was it effective? You tell me. Do you find the video more compelling than a traditional press release?

So, what are you, an IR maintainer or innovator?

Full Disclosure – MOSAID Technologies is a client of H&K Canada.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/09/24/maintainers-and-innovators-in-ir/feed/ 0
IRO – the jack of all trades http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/08/12/iro-%e2%80%93-the-jack-of-all-trades/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/08/12/iro-%e2%80%93-the-jack-of-all-trades/#comments Thu, 12 Aug 2010 19:09:38 +0000 Anil Dilawri http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/?p=198 It’s not easy being an IRO. An IRO needs to be the jack of all trades within an organization.

Finance – being able to walk the walk when it comes to discussing financial metrics and financial analysis with

shareholders and analysts.

Marketing – developing the right strategy for communicating with the Street through events, roadshows, conference, calls, and more.

Sales – convincing the buy-side and the sell-side that your company is better than the competition, can deliver on the promised strategy, has the management team to execute, and can deliver the kind of results that will drive shareholder value.

Human resource management – being able to decide which members of the team (beyond the CEO and CFO) should (and should not) be exposed to the investment community.

Information technology – driving an effective web presence to ensure the right information gets to the public at the right time. Driving innovation through social media deployments and staying on the cutting edge of fair disclosure and communications.

Operations – being able to intelligently discuss the inner workings of the business and providing the depth of knowledge that the Street needs.

It takes someone special to be an IRO. Your company is lucky to have you.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/08/12/iro-%e2%80%93-the-jack-of-all-trades/feed/ 0
Quiet Periods http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/07/21/quiet-periods/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/07/21/quiet-periods/#comments Wed, 21 Jul 2010 14:53:13 +0000 Anil Dilawri http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/?p=190 I recently completed a mini research project for a client on quiet periods. This forward thinking client wanted to ensure that their quiet period policy was in line with what other companies were doing and what the regulators were suggesting.

The findings were predictable. Most companies have a quiet period that starts around the end of the quarter and stops when results are released to the public. That makes sense.

The vast majority of companies still authorize discussions between management and the Street during quiet period while “being careful not to disclose information about the pending quarter”.

Only one company actually didn’t allow their management team to speak with the Street during their quiet period. Does that surprise you? It really surprised me.

Quiet periods exist so companies and management teams do not expose themselves to possible selective disclosure between the end of a quarter and when results are announced. Translation: quiet periods exist to protect management from saying something that they shouldn’t be saying yet.

The problem is members of management are human beings. Human beings make mistakes (sometimes big ones, sometimes small ones). When we allow our management to speak (even carefully) during a quiet period we are exposing them to significant risk.

Are your quiet period policies and practices really protecting your company and your management team?

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/07/21/quiet-periods/feed/ 0
Is there such a thing as too much investor marketing? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/07/09/is-there-such-a-thing-as-too-much-investor-marketing/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/07/09/is-there-such-a-thing-as-too-much-investor-marketing/#comments Fri, 09 Jul 2010 14:25:29 +0000 Anil Dilawri http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/?p=180 For many IROs, it seems like they are on the road with their management all the time. Be it for non-deal roadshows or institutional conferences, the investor marketing schedule never seems to pause for some.

So, is there such a thing as too much investor marketing?  Tough question.  My answer is – it depends.

No CEO wants to be branded as overly promotional when it comes to his/her IR activities.  However, the CEO wants to be thought of as accessible and open to in-person meetings.  It’s a fine balance.

Ask yourself the following about your investor marketing meetings:

  1. Are you seeing new investors or the same ones over and over again?  New interest in the stock/company is a good sign that your marketing efforts are worthwhile.
  2. Are investors coming to meetings with prepared, well thought out, insightful questions or are they passive and seemingly “going through the motions” when meeting with you?  If they are truly interested, you will be able to tell.
  3. Is sell-side sponsorship of your roadshows subsiding? Sell-siders love taking companies on roadshows, unless they are having trouble filling a day of meetings for you.

Admittedly, many companies find themselves experiencing the opposite problem – not enough marketing.  But for those who market well and market often, keep it up.  Just be cognizant of the Street’s interest level in meeting with you.  Sometimes we need to allow the Street some time on their own to digest the success of your company.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/07/09/is-there-such-a-thing-as-too-much-investor-marketing/feed/ 2
Mr. Website and IR Staff http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/06/22/mr-website-and-ir-staff/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/06/22/mr-website-and-ir-staff/#comments Tue, 22 Jun 2010 18:27:27 +0000 Anil Dilawri http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/?p=170 Websites are a popular topic of discussion with investor relations officers (IROs).

How do we improve ours?

Do we have the right content?

How much money should we spend on the site?

How much time should we spend worrying about the site?

These are just a few of the strategic questions that are voiced by IROs.  They are tough questions to answer.

Let’s take a step back and not look at our IR websites as tools. Instead, just for the next few minutes, let’s look at our IR website as a member of our team (an IR staff member).

Now, let’s ask ourselves the following:

Are we happy with what our staff member is saying to the audience?

Are they credible?

Are they conveying up-to-date information?

From the audiences’ point of view, is there value in what the IR staff member is saying?

Am I comfortable with this staff member talking directly to the Street?

Will the audience want to continue talking to this staff member on a regular basis?

Whether we like it or not, our IR website is a virtual staff member.  They represent the company in the same way a member of our IR team does.

My point here is that IR websites matter.  They are important.  They deserve your time, your attention, and your resources.

Perspective point #1: When is the last time you personally invested in a stock without visiting the company’s website?  I hope, for your sake, it wasn’t recent.  Think about every new investor (institutional or retail) who is considering investing in your company this year and what impression they will be left with after visiting your website.

Perspective point #2: How many face-to-face institutional investor meetings has your CEO conducted over the past year?  Probably a lot.  Now, how many institutional investors do you think visited your website this past year?  Probably more than the number that met with your CEO.  Conclusion: your IR website probably gets more face time then your CEO.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/06/22/mr-website-and-ir-staff/feed/ 2
Innovation Equality and Investor Relations http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/05/21/innovation-equality-and-investor-relations/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/05/21/innovation-equality-and-investor-relations/#comments Fri, 21 May 2010 14:18:42 +0000 Anil Dilawri http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/?p=165 Admittedly, I’m a Tom Peters fan.  He has become a legendary management consultant and he has done it by spreading his common sense ideas in a very engaging way.

Here he talks about Innovation Equality, and I think it is extremely relevant for IROs and anyone associated with IR.

What is your IR R&D budget?  More simply, does your IR department spend any time thinking about innovation?  By innovation I don’t mean using new adjectives in your press releases.  I mean doing new, and dare I say “different”, things that ensure your IR goals are met on a regular basis.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/05/21/innovation-equality-and-investor-relations/feed/ 0
Bench Strength http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/05/13/bench-strength/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/05/13/bench-strength/#comments Thu, 13 May 2010 18:27:02 +0000 Anil Dilawri http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/?p=163 I was recently reminded about leading an investor perception audit for a company a while ago.  The Street had great things to say about the company and its management team.  A significant take away from the audit was the Street wanted exposure to the bench strength of the management team (i.e. managers other than the CEO and CFO).

Maybe the Street thinks the CEO is great and they know him well.  Maybe they think the CFO is very competent and meet with him regularly. But what about everyone else?

How about introducing the investment community to others on your management team?

The Senior VP of Innovation

The Chief Information Officer

The VP of Drilling and Exploration

The Senior VP of Sales and Marketing

The Head of Human Resources

The VP of Business Development

The Head of Product Management

Or others that you know will impress an analyst or dazzle a buy-sider.

I’m not saying you should make these managers your IR front men.  I mean have them present at an investor conference every now and then (or co-present with your CEO), have them talk during corporate visits, even inviting them to speak at the occasional quarterly earnings call.

Don’t get me wrong, CEOs, CFOs, and COOs are all important and the Street wants to hear from them.  However, the Street is well aware that a CEO is often only as good as the team that surrounds him/her.

Show off your management bench strength. The Street will appreciate it.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/05/13/bench-strength/feed/ 0
Execs Who Love to Talk http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/04/07/execs-who-love-to-talk/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/04/07/execs-who-love-to-talk/#comments Wed, 07 Apr 2010 15:57:56 +0000 Anil Dilawri http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/?p=159 I recently came across a junior mining company that has been the subject of acquisition rumors for quite some time.  Senior executives with the company have always been careful with their public comments surrounding acquisition questions from analysts, investors, and financial media.

Then one of their operational executives slipped, and slipped badly.

While at a mining conference the operational executive informed a Reuters writer that the company is engaged in talks with a number of senior metals and mining companies and that an acquisition is imminent. He didn’t stop there.  He also made comments about his company’s stock price being too low and that it would by 2 to 3 times higher once an acquisition is announced.

Operational executives are great, aren’t they?  They play a very important role in advancing the business and ensuring that the company runs smoothly.  But sometimes they talk too much.

Small mining companies don’t have a monopoly on operational executives who talk too much.  Such executives are in most industries and with companies of varying sizes.

While it is easy to blame the executive for saying too much, I blame the IR and legal departments.  IR and legal play an important internal communications role.  They need to develop solid strategies for communicating their internal company rules around fair and timely disclosure.

Fair disclosure is a tough concept to grasp, even for bright superstar executives who are excited about their company’s future prospects.  Navigating through the fine lines and large grey areas of fair disclosure is not easy.

What’s your strategy for communicating fair disclosure rules with your company’s staff?

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/04/07/execs-who-love-to-talk/feed/ 0
Long-Term versus Short-Term http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/04/01/long-term-versus-short-term/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/04/01/long-term-versus-short-term/#comments Thu, 01 Apr 2010 18:21:09 +0000 Anil Dilawri http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/?p=157 A significant problem in today’s equity markets is that companies tend to be managed to thrive for the long-term while institutional investors tend to be preoccupied with success in the short-term.

“That’s great, I love your 5 year plan, but what are you doing to get the stock price up in the next 3 months?” said the money manager who was speaking to a CEO.

This becomes a significant communications challenge for IR as they craft the company’s message to investors.  Long-term is important to us (the company) but short term seems to be what matters (to investors).  What’s an IRO to do?

What if companies made the link between short-term deals/news/developments and the long-term vision. Imagine if you gave investors a roadmap they could follow as they judge whether or not to invest in your company.

Example – “We drilled a hole in the ground and found some gold.  Next we are going to drill a few more holes to see if we can find some more gold in the area.  We will then move quickly to scope out how much gold is in the area and develop a strategy for extracting it.  This will all lead to our ultimate vision of becoming a producer of gold within X number of months/years.  You can expect another update from us in <<insert timeframe>>.”

It sounds simple but too few companies do it.

Google has ambitious plans for the future, and they talk a lot about those plans, but investors don’t mind because Google delivers outstanding performance in the present.  They knock down short-term milestones while keeping their eye on the ball for the long-term.

Lay out a map for your investors.  Let them follow along as you progress (short-term).  Emphasize how you are meeting your stated objectives.  Keep reiterating the end goal (long-term).

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/04/01/long-term-versus-short-term/feed/ 0
Listening and Investor Relations http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/03/25/listening-and-investor-relations/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/03/25/listening-and-investor-relations/#comments Thu, 25 Mar 2010 18:57:23 +0000 Anil Dilawri http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/?p=152 If your company (and IR department) is like most it likely spends a lot of time preparing for earnings calls, writing press releases, answering investor questions, answering analyst questions, updating websites, updating contact databases, traveling, presenting at conferences, talking to financial media, organizing and executing an analyst/investor day, writing an annual report, and watching the stock price.

Correct?

How much time does your company (and IR department) spend listening to your investors?  I don’t mean listening to their questions and then answering them.  I mean listening to their opinion, listening to their thoughts, and listening to their beliefs (regardless of whether you agree with them or not).

If your company thinks market share growth is the most important success metric but your investors think its earnings, who is right?

If your company thinks that you are leading the pack but your investors think the competition is eating your lunch, who is right?

Listening is a powerful way of crafting an IR message that directly addresses (and guides) an investors opinion.

Take the time to actually listen to your investors.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/anildilawri/2010/03/25/listening-and-investor-relations/feed/ 0