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Investor Relations for the New CFO - Six Steps for IR Success

By David Calusdian, Executive Vice President & Partner

*Originally appeared on Samuel's CFO Blog. Samuel Dergel is Director and Search Consultant at Stanton Chase International. Mr. Dergel specializes in Executive Search for Chief Financial Officers.

As the new CFO of a publicly held company, somewhere on your extensive “to do” list is implementing an effective investor relations program. Whether or not the IR function was a well-oiled machine when you arrived, or virtually non-existent, there are key areas you need to address immediately to ensure that you are effectively taking the IR reins. So here are six steps for success as you accept responsibility for the IR function.

1) Understand your shareholder base. Research the investment styles of your shareholders to determine why they may have bought shares– and what might cause them to sell. See what type of investor concentration you have in your shareholder base. Identifying whether your shareholders are weighted toward a growth, value or income investment style, for example, can offer insight as to what they are expecting the company to achieve near or long term. Also investigate whether there are known “activist” firms among your shareholders, and what catalysts usually cause them to initiate a proxy fight. Make it a priority to speak with your shareholders by phone as soon as possible, and then meet them in person within your first few quarters as CFO. Also consider an investor perception audit to understand the sentiments of your shareholder base -- and identify any misperceptions about the company -- to most effectively build your IR program.

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Disclosure, Reg FD, Board Communications, Conference Calls, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Meetings, Guidance, Disclosure Policy, Shareholder Communications, Earnings Call, Social Media, Investor Relations, Earnings, Investor Relations Firm

Developing an Investor Relations Program for an IPO Company [Video]

By Maureen Wolff, President and Partner

Companies planning to go public need to be able to hit the ground running on the day of the IPO pricing with an investor relations program. In order to prepare, Sharon Merrill President and Partner Maureen Wolff provides tips on what to do before and after the S-1 filing in the videos below.

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Investor Presentation, IR Program Planning, Disclosure, Strategic Messaging, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Meetings, IR Website, Guidance, Board Structure, Disclosure Policy, IPO, Investor Relations, Earnings, Investor Relations Firm

Investor Relations: How May I Serve You?

“View from the C-Suite: What Management Wants from Investor Relations” was the theme for NIRI Boston’s April event. For a chance to listen to a panel of C-level executives speak candidly to a room full of investor relations professionals, I quickly reserved a car and “zipped” over to the meeting. The panel featured three esteemed executives from the region, including Richard F. Pops, Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer, Alkermes; David D.R. Hargreaves, Chief Operating Officer, Hasbro and Donald Muir, Chief Financial Officer, Lionbridge.

The audience was eager to hear what these top executives expect from a strong IR team. The panel consistently reinforced that IR professionals are most effective when they are knowledgeable, well organized, involved in strategic planning, and are able to stand up to management to ensure best practice.

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IR Program Planning, Board Packages, Corporate Access, Board Communications, Investor Meetings, NIRI, Disclosure Policy, Shareholder Communications, Social Media, Investor Relations, Earnings

IRO-zilla and the Earnings Call

There is a popular cable network TV show called Bridezillas that often depicts women planning their wedding day as high-strung, unreasonable and at times displaying jaw-dropping outrageous behavior. Of course, this makes for great reality TV, but at times I find myself sympathizing with these women. After all, it will be the biggest day of their lives – it had better go as planned!

Similarly, the quarterly earnings call is one of the biggest days in the career of investor relations professionals and their companies. A seamless call is an IRO’s opportunity to shine. A call riddled with issues will damage his or her credibility. These calls require weeks of careful planning to ensure that the right messages are communicated effectively to shareholders. However, much like the bridezillas have to rely on other people to design a dress, coordinate the flower arrangements, bake the cake, etc., IROs must work with a variety of outside providers for the services necessary to facilitate an earnings call. With so much riding on the line, there is no shame in taking on the IRO-zilla role and demanding, rather, clearly stating needs and expectations. The IRO’s professional reputation is at stake.

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IR Vendors, IR Program Planning, Investor Relations Agency, IR Website, NIRI, IRO, IR Budgets, Earnings Call, Social Media, Investor Relations, Earnings, Investor Relations Firm

The Age of Diminished Sell-Side Research

Sell-side research has undergone profound structural changes during the past decade with far-reaching implications affecting the quality of the research and how research is generated, sold and compensated. Decimalization, Regulation FD, unbundling of trading from research and the hedge fund “brain drain” have all negatively impacted sell-side profitability, product quality and small cap coverage in today’s age of diminished sell-side research.

Decimalization. When the SEC required exchanges to narrow their bid-ask spreads from one-sixteenth, or $0.0625, to $0.01 per share effective in 2001, the profitability of trading floors collapsed amidst tremendous spread compression. While working on the sell-side, I recall hearing many times over, “when we get a trade we can all hear the cash register ring.” After decimalization, I never heard this again. Sell-side boutiques, historically adequately compensated for their research with large bid-ask spreads, now struggled to stay afloat. They reduced staff levels and often swapped higher-priced, seasoned analysts for less-experienced and less-costly researchers.

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Hedge Fund, Disclosure, Reg FD, Sell-side Research, Targeting, Investor Meetings, Sell-side Coverage, Disclosure Policy, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Earnings

Grab the Tiger by the Tail in 2010

Earlier this week I moderated a NIRI webinar with three senior-level investor relations officers representing the finance, real estate and retail industries. The panelists highlighted some new initiatives that IROs should consider in 2010 which, according to the Chinese calendar, is The Year of the Tiger. This just might have been the world’s only “Tiger”-related discussion in the past few weeks that had nothing to do with a certain golfer with a PR problem.

Within Chinese culture the number six is auspicious and considered good for business. So in keeping with this theme, here are six ideas that arose from the panel discussion that are worth considering as you develop your investor relations plan for the coming year.

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Board Packages, Board Communications, Conference Calls, IR Website, Guidance, NIRI, Speaking Engagements, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Earnings

'Twas the Night before Earnings…

'Twas the night before earnings, when all through accounting,
Not a number was crunching; the pressure was mounting;
The toy company’s financials were all prepped with care,
In the hopes that the SEC would not soon be there;

The auditors were huddling on how to avoid the Feds,
While visions of lawsuits danced in their heads;
The CEO in a gray suit, the CFO in blue,
Had just settled down for a financial review;

When out in the lobby there arose such a clatter,
People ran from their cubes to see what was the matter;
All down the hallway the questions arose,
Someone had spotted a man in red clothes;

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Holiday, Investor Relations, Earnings

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