I moderated a fireside chat with NIRI’s new President and CEO, Jim Cudahy, as part of NIRI Boston’s 2015-2016 Season Kickoff Event last week. We talked about the state of IR today, and what we can expect from NIRI in the year to come. Here’s what he told us:
- Time to dust off our books. A couple of weeks ago, the NIRI Board of Directors gave final approval to the document that will launch the Investor Relations Charter Program in March of 2016. Jim explained that certification will help better define the IR profession, generate recognition and establish a more tangible and direct career path. The first round of exams to obtain IRC certification will be March 5-12, 2016, and NIRI’s goal is to have 10% of members enrolled for this first round. Enrollment starts in December, and will be open for professionals with three years of experience in IR. The process will require going through a self-study program, and taking a four-hour 200 question exam that will cost approximately $1,000.
- Let’s document and share. The NIRI board recently attended their annual meeting with the SEC, and the top item on the agenda was 13F Reform. Jim is calling for investor relations professionals to share examples of inefficiencies caused by current 13F regulations. Stories should be shared with NIRI Boston’s Advocacy Representative Gerry Gould. Other NIRI advocacy goals include disclosure and proxy advisory reform, as well as to have open conversations with the SEC on shareholder activism and short termism.
- The most important question is “Why?” Our profession has been in a state of constant change since its very beginnings. The most successful IR practitioners not only embrace change, but find ways to creatively adapt to the changes around them to be more effective. We need to continually re-think why we do things, and whether there are different approaches we can take.
- NIRI is working across borders. A NIRI contingent is headed to a four-city tour in Asia to expand the NIRI community on a global basis. They will visit Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing in recognition that the IR profession has no borders. Of course, investor relations professionals already engage with investors on a global basis, and that’s a trend that will continue to gain importance in the coming years.
- …but also coming to our neighborhoods. The following NIRI Boston events will be closer to home. The Boston Chapter is launching a series of “NIRI in your neighborhood” events in Burlington, Framingham and Boston, starting October 8th.
The timing of the inaugural NIRI Boston event coincided with NIRI’s “Fundamentals of Investor Relations” seminar, held every September in our city. Earlier in the day, I had spoken along with CyberArk IRO Erica Smith on the topic of disclosure and best practices to a group of eager new IR practitioners. Their questions were insightful, and I’m excited by their enthusiasm for our profession. Later in the week, my Sharon Merrill colleagues David Calusdian and David Reichman led NIRI’s annual “Writing Workshop for Investor Relations.” They too were impressed and energized by the zest for learning at their day-long session.
It was an exciting NIRI-filled week in Boston as we ushered in the NIRI Boston season and welcomed new IR practitioners from all over the world to the Fundamentals seminar. I’m looking forward to a productive 2015/2016 NIRI season that will help guide the newest members of our profession and enable the most experienced among us to productively debate the critical issues facing our profession.
Maureen Wolff is president and partner at Sharon Merrill, an investor relations strategic advisory firm that includes among its services Regulation FD, disclosure and Wall Street 101 training for employees, management and boards of directors, perception studies and targeted investor outreach. She is a National Investor Relations Institute Fellow, Senior Roundtable Member and Honorary NIRI Boston Director. She is a trusted advisor to CEOs, CFOs and boards of directors on critical communications issues including corporate governance, shareholder activism and proxy contests, CEO succession planning and disclosure issues.
For more information on Sharon Merrill Associates, please contact us at info@InvestorRelations.com, or at 617-542-5300.