Richard Davies moderates IR Seminar on Governance

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On 7 October, Richard Davies, Managing Director of RD:IR, moderated the IR Society’s second 2015 Corporate Governance Seminar.  Hosted by Instinctif, the 40-strong audience heard from a knowledgeable panel of speakers on topics broadly around the theme of “Collective Engagement: the next step in Governance”

The event was kicked off by a panel including representatives from The Investor Forum, a body formed following the recommendations of the Kay Review and subsequent Collective Engagement Working Group (a group established by the ABI, IMA and NAPF); Emily Carey, BP; and David Trenchard, David Trenchard Consulting.  The Investor Forum is an investor-led organisation, whose governance is independent of any trade association, and which was represented on the panel by Simon Fraser (Chairman), Andy Griffiths (Executive Director) & Phineas Glover (Senior Advisor).  The three speakers outlined the purpose for the formation of The Investor Forum, namely to position stewardship at the heart of investment decision-making by facilitating dialogue, creating long-term solutions and enhancing value.  They also talked through the engagement process, explaining how they would typically get involved in helping companies and investors to agree courses of action to achieve their stated goals in a confidential environment.  Following the presentation, a discussion between the panel and participants from the audience ensued, with several different points of view being aired and addressed by The Investor Forum team.

The next presentation was given jointly by David Trenchard, David Trenchard Consulting and Cas Sydorowitz, Georgeson on “Framing Activist Risk”.  They compared the typical US model of activist investment against the European model, as well as examining the difference on how activism is perceived in both geographies.  There were some fascinating insights and behind the scenes information about how activist funds operate, and real examples of companies who had successfully defended themselves against activism.

Mark Robinson, Senior Client Manager for EMEA Issuers, RD:IR, followed with a talk on Depositary Receipts (DR’s) and the governance issues surrounding this equity instrument.  He highlighted, among other issues, the lack of transparency in ownership as something for companies to consider when issuing DRs.  Representatives from depository banks in the audience contributed views and insights from their perspective to provide a useful background to the topic.

Finally, Will Pomroy, representing the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), posed the question “Where is the workforce in corporate reporting?”  His presentation looked at how companies regularly report on directors’ remuneration in their annual reporting but seldom report in any depth on other workforce metrics.  He argued that “for long-term investors, conversations about the people that constitute the workforce are crucial to understanding a company’s culture, how well a company is functioning and whether warning lights are beginning to flash”.

 

RD:IR Sponsors Best Communications at 2015 AIM Awards

The 20th annual AIM Awards Dinner took place on 8th August 2015 at Old Billingsgate, a striking City location overlooking Tower Bridge and the Thames.  Attended by well over 1,200 guests drawn from the companies and professional advisors of the AIM Market, the evening celebrated AIM as a platform for smaller and more entrepreneurial companies to grow and fulfil their strategies.

The compere for the evening was Bev Turner, LBC presenter and journalist, and entertainment was provided by Dara Ó Briain, the Irish comedian, who had the audience in stitches with his rapid-fire delivery.

RD:IR was pleased to sponsor an award for the first time – the Best Communication Award which recognises a company’s ability to communicate clearly and effectively with shareholders and  potential investors.  Amongst the areas being judged were the website, the annual report, regulatory news and press releases and the appropriate utilisation of social media.  The judging panel was looking for clarity, honesty, timeliness and consistency of messaging throughout all the company’s communications during the period from 1st August 2014 to 31st July 2015.

The panel shortlisted four companies for the award – Breedon Aggregates, Cohort, EMIS and Imperial Innovations, and it was Imperial Innovations that was announced the winner.  Jon Davies, IRO was presented his award by Richard Davies (Managing Director, RD:IR),  David Snell (Partner & AIM Leader, PwC) and Bev Turner.

 

From left to right: Richard Davies (RD:IR), David Snell (PwC), Bev Turner (awards presenter) and Jon Davies (Imperial Innovations Group plc)

From left to right:
Richard Davies (RD:IR), David Snell (PwC), Bev Turner (awards presenter) and Jon Davies (Imperial Innovations Group plc)

 

RD:IR would like to congratulate all of the shortlisted companies and the successful winners at the 2015 AIM Awards:

  • Best Communication Award – Imperial Innovations Group plc
  • Best Performing Share Award – Victoria plc
  • Best Use of AIM Award – Ideagen plc
  • Best Technology Award – Advanced Oncotherapy plc
  • AIM Transaction of the Year Award – Optimal Payments plc
  • Best Performer Over 20 Years – ASOS plc
  • Best Research Award – finnCap
  • International Company of the Year Award – Hutchison China Meditech Ltd
  • Best Newcomer Award – Fevertree Drinks plc
  • Entrepreneur of the Year Award – Clinigen plc
  • Company of the Year Award – CVS Group plc

 

RD:IR introduces new Investor Access department

PRESS RELEASE

Leading global investor relations consultancy, Richard Davies Investor Relations (RD:IR), is delighted to announce the creation of its new Investor Access department. Seasoned IR professional, Jenni Herbert, has joined RD:IR to lead the department in the newly formed position of Head of Access. Jenni brings with her a wealth of experience, having worked in the financial markets for over twenty years, most recently with investment banking house, Liberum, where she built up its corporate access function. 

With increasing regulatory pressures being placed on investment banks by the FCA, the traditional model of corporate access is undergoing considerable changes, and RD:IR has identified an increasing opportunity to help companies manage their relationships with stakeholders and potential investors in a way that complements the services provided by their advisors.

RD:IR is already widely recognised for the excellence of its shareholder analysis and targeting campaigns and the company is planning to use its proprietary data to give an added layer of insight and advice to clients, in order to help them engage with, and manage their shareholders and targets in a cost and time effective way. Furthermore, the focus that the team are putting into winning pan-European business also translates into opportunities to introduce investors to clients outside the UK.

Asked to comment on her new role, Jenni said, “I am delighted to have joined the team at RD:IR. I have worked in the City with companies in a variety of advisory roles during the past ten years and hope to bring this experience to bear in a new and holistic offering at RD:IR, helping its existing clients and attracting future opportunities.”

For further information regarding RD:IR’s investor access services please contact Jenni Herbert on +44 20 7492 0540 or jenni.herbert@rdir.com. 

 

 

RD:IR Client Testimonials: Delivering exceptional IR services for over thirteen years!

We are proud to work with a range of fantastic companies, including UK and international corporates, across the entire market capitalisation spectrum; UK investment trusts; corporate brokers; and other corporate intermediaries.

A number of these clients have employed RD:IR’s investor relations services right from the company’s inception in 2002 and for that, we are delighted and humbled.

We currently act for over 630 clients, both directly, and indirectly via stockbrokers and investment managers. The service we provide our clients has been described as “exceptional”, “impeccable”,”comprehensive” and “professional”.The testimonials below, elaborate on the type of service provided and how satisfied the respective client has been.

These are just a small selection, to read them in full please visit our dedicated testimonials page on the website:

 

“We have long been supporters of RD:IR, in fact from their inception, and use a range of their services. We believe they provide some of the best share register analysis in the industry which gives us confidence when using the data at board level and also for investor targeting. On top of this, the team are always approachable, helpful and professional, all of which makes RD:IR a pleasure to be associated with.”

Shelley Fishwick, Aberdeen Asset Management plc

 

“RD:IR’s team ran a very useful targeting exercise which has been the basis for our investor targeting refresh.”

Gary Leibowitz, SABMiller plc
 
 

“We find the IR InTouch platform an invaluable CRM tool especially with regards to recording all our meetings and notes. The system produces insightful roadshow packs which incorporate all share register and peer analysis information, which are useful for our busy meeting schedules. We have also started using the offline meeting function, allowing the recording of notes in an efficient and user friendly manner even on the move. Additionally, with a focused investor base on the CRM platform, we know we can reach thousands of relevant investors, globally, at a touch of a button.”

Lisa Williams, Debenhams plc
 
 

“I am a serial customer –  I cannot imagine running my IR function without the support of RD:IR on the share register analysis and CRM fronts. They are incredibly easy to deal with, they really understand the way IR works, including the pressures. They pitch their services at the sweet spot between responsive and proactive. Their information is clear and comprehensive.”

Jill Sherratt, AA plc
 
 

“I have used RD:IR’s proxy solicitation service through two acquisitions and strongly recommend them. The team was very supportive and the analysis comprehensive. I was very impressed with how they ran the process in each instance and I was kept fully informed at every stage.”

Tanya Hitchens, IR Consultant to Oil & Gas Sector
 
 
To understand further how RD:IR can help enhance your IR strategy, please contact Sarah Blackshaw on +44 20 7492 0500 or sarah.blackshaw@rdir.com
 
 
 

Richard Davies looks back over three decades of Investor Relations

 
After three decades in IR, including two years as the Chair of the IR Society, RD:IR’s Managing Director, Richard Davies, believes that though the IR industry has come far, there is still a long way to go.

 

Summary

  • Technological change has driven faster, cheaper and more accurate data
  • IROs are better qualified than ever
  • Regulatory changes have had huge effects on the capital markets
  • The sell-side is here to stay, despite what some people think
  • Companies with dedicated IROs typically perform better

 

The best thing about working in the IR industry is the constant change, which provides both challenge and opportunity. This is matched by the continuity in the profession of the striving towards better practice. Looking back over the last 27 years of my time in the sector, I see much that has changed and much that has stayed the same. The most startling developments have, of course, been in the area of technology, with the impact of faster processing speeds in computing and the arrival of the internet. Many readers will find it difficult to imagine a time before digital and, indeed, I find it difficult to believe that we used to perform so much data entry and analysis manually in the late 80s. I started my IR career creating one of the first share register analysis systems, which was a spin-off of a hard copy publication I was hired to edit, The Index of Nominees & their Beneficial Owners. This directory of nominee companies and the funds they represented became a minor City classic, which I still get asked about, 15 years after its final edition was published. The early iterations were researched using fiches from Companies House, telephone calls to nominee companies and inspections of often hand-written or typed registers of beneficial owners, derived from interrogation under the old Companies Act Section 212 legislation (now known as s793). We went on to use this painstaking research (further augmented by fund-to-fund manager researched linkages) to analyse share registers, which arrived in hard copy format in piles of boxes, which we sifted and entered manually into computers the size of a desk. Analysis which now takes seconds, with electronic registers and sophisticated data processing, took days in some cases – and the fees reflected this.

Big data

The commoditisation and universalisation of data has certainly been a key change in the IR and financial services industry. Today’s IRO has easy access to information that would have been unimaginable 30 years ago. The challenge remains, however, in understanding how data should be used efficiently and strategically. It is a cliché in the industry to point out that IR is now taken more seriously by company boards but this is, of course, true. IR has become more professionalised in the UK, partly due to the impact of the IR Society. Gone are the days when fund managers and analysts would only speak to senior management, largely due to the rise in financial competence of the average IR officer (although I am not of the opinion that IROs necessarily have to be ex-analysts to have gravitas).

Disrupted industry

A major change, which historical significance in total, like the French Revolution according to Zhou Enlai, has yet to be fully understood, has been the forced unbundling of broker fees to fund managers for corporate access and research. I suspect that this is only the beginning of a deeper and wider disruption of financial services as market Darwinianism and internet technology scythe their way in months through centuries-old relationships in the City. There are so many other changes to the way that the capital markets operate that have impacted on the world of IR, all of which we now take for granted: internationalisation and consolidation of the asset management sector; the rise of hedge funds and proprietary trading; the impact of EU regulation (for example, MiFIDs 1 & 2); high-frequency trading and dark pools; the rise of Asia and other emerging markets as part of the globalisation process; the increase in interest in governance and the commensurate rise in importance of the proxy advisory agencies.

Big banks are here to stay

While so much has changed, so much has stayed the same. It is a rather wonderful aspect of the IR market that many of the market players of 27 years ago are still in place, whether as companies or IRO professionals. The young bucks of the 80s are now part of the IR establishment, albeit with greyer hair and expanded waistlines (including this writer). The arguments about companies needing to be pro-active about their equity marketing strategy are as true now as they were then, if not more so. People have decried the end of the sellside since I started work in the City. It hasn’t happened yet and will not happen for some years to come: there are too many vested interests. The major investment banks will be part of the scene for the foreseeable future and life for larger companies in terms of the services they receive therefrom will go on much as usual for the time being. Given the changes in the research and corporate access fee model that the recent FCA and forthcoming MiFID changes precipitate, my concern relates to the funding of small- and mid-cap public companies. Growth companies are the basis of a healthy public company market, where investors, retail and institutional, can invest in entities which are subject to market scrutiny, unlike the private equity market, where the only real oversight is provided by the auditor. Many of our current large-cap companies started life as small-caps but I wonder how many would achieve the same growth under today’s capital market conditions.

The role of the IRO

We have come very far in the IR industry in the UK but there is still a long way to go. Many UK public companies still do not see the need for a dedicated IR professional. Even those companies that do employ an IR officer may not take a pro-active approach to marketing their equity. The UK IR industry includes some of the world’s leading IR professionals, running sophisticated processes and strategies, utilising a mix of data and consultancy to take their company’s equity story to the global marketplace. On the other hand, there are companies that still do not consider IR to be important or which rely totally on a lacklustre broker with no interest in promoting their equity. The most exciting aspect of my last 27 years in the IR world is that I see that the former category is growing and the latter is shrinking. Research shows that companies which do not perform IR so well tend to disappear faster than those that do. In my experience, it was always thus and I am sure this will continue to be true. I wish the IR Society a very happy 35th birthday. I am delighted to have been part of its history. I look forward to the future of the Society and of the global IR market as we all embrace change and challenge. 

 

Richard wrote this article as a contribution to the IR Society’s 35th anniversary celebratory edition of Informed Magazine. A copy of the magazine can be downloaded on the Society’s website here.