RD:IR – Conferences and White Papers

On Monday 7th March, RD:IR submitted a White Paper to the IR society for publication on their website and distribution to their database.  Titled “Oil – The Landscape is Changing”, the piece looks at difference a year has made in the price per barrel of oil, the drivers behind the fall, and the effects of the falling oil price on the UK stock market and pension funds.  The full white paper can be found at


RD:IR is also delighted to confirm that it has again agreed to be Gold Sponsor to the IR Society for another year, underlining its commitment to the Society and the local IR Community in general.


On Tuesday 8th March, Richard Davies (MD of RD:IR) organised and chaired a breakout session at the Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators’ Annual Conference at the ExCel Conference Centre on the topic of the convergence of company secretary practice and IR.  Richard’s co-panellists were Ben Willey, Company Secretary of Hunting plc, and Emily Carey, Head of Governance at BP.  The session was attended by approximately 60 company secretaries, mainly from listed companies.  Richard’s involvement in the ICSA conference followed on from his article in February edition of the Governance and Compliance Magazine



AIC logo

On Thursday 10th March, Richard Davies will be a guest speaker at the AIC UK Conference.  The AIC is the trade body for closed-ended investment companies, and the conference brings together over 300 directors of investment companies and other senior industry figures to hear a variety of expert speakers discuss the headline issues of the day.  Topics will include issues such as regulation and the opportunities of the CMU, the prospect for the UK economy and interest rates, liquidity and how and why this affects demand from major investors, and insights into shareholder activity.



RD:IR sponsors Best Investor Communication Award at PLC Awards

plc awards logo 

The 30th PLC Awards was held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on the 3rd March 2016.  The prestigious event, sponsored by PWC, is held annually to recognise success and achievement amongst publicly quoted companies in the UK.

RD:IR were delighted to sponsor the Best Investor Communication Award at the PLC Awards, this year attended by roughly 1000 representatives including CEOs, Finance Directors, investment bankers, fund managers, analysts and corporate advisors. 

Richard Davies, Managing Director of RD:IR and a member of the voting panel for the awards, was on hand to present the award to Derek Harding and Bindi Foyle from Senior Plc.

plc awards photo

From left: Stephanie Hyde (PwC); Richard Davies (RD:IR); Derek Harding & Bindi Foyle (Senior plc –  winner); The Rt. Hon. Lord Hague of Richmond; and Kate Silverton


The shortlisted contenders included several of RD:IR’s clients including Senior plc, Betfair Group plc, Laird plc, Clipper Logistics plc, Micro Focus International plc and UDG Healthcare plc.

Our congratulations go to the shortlisted contenders and winners (highlighted) of the 2015 PLC Awards, shown below.

Best Investor Communication Award (Sponsored by RD:IR)

  • Genus plc
  • Go-Ahead Group plc
  • Great Portland Estates plc
  • Senior plc

Best Performing Share Award

Winner: Betfair Group plc

Fund Manager of the Year Award

Winner: Colin McLean – SVM UK Emerging Fund plc

Achievement in Sustainability Award

  • Costain Group plc
  • Interserve plc
  • Petra Diamonds Ltd 
  • Ricardo plc

Best Technology Award

  • Genus plc
  • Laird plc 
  • Sophos Group plc
  • Zotefoams plc

Turnaround of the Year Award

  • e2v technologies plc
  • Greggs plc
  • Laird plc
  • SuperGroup plc 

New Company of the Year Award

  • Auto Trader Group plc
  • Kainos Group plc
  • Sanne Group plc 
  • Wizz Air Holdings plc

Entrepreneur of the Year Award

  • Steve Parkin/Clipper Logistics plc
  • Rod Flavell/FDM Group (Holdings) plc
  • Peter Cowgill/JD Sports Fashion plc
  • Joel Leonoff/Paysafe Group plc

Company of the Year Award

  • Betfair Group plc
  • Micro Focus International plc
  • RPC Group plc
  • UDG Healthcare plc

Convergence Culture – Richard Davies writes for ICSA

Article appearing in February issue of  ICSA Governance and Compliance

Company secretaries and investor relations officers must work closer together

The impetus for the development of investor relations (IR) as an independent profession was largely the implementation of the 1985 Companies Act. This gave public companies the right under s212 to interrogate shareholders as to their real ownership. Hitherto, shareholders, whether institutional or retail, could hide behind ‘front’ or ‘shell’ nominee companies, mainly operated by the custody departments of banks and stockbrokers. Nominee companies – or custody accounts to use the international term – existed then and now for two main purposes: firstly, as an easier way for their operators to collect and distribute dividends to underlying shareholders, and secondly, to allow investors not to appear on the UK share register in their own name.

Over the past 30 years there has been a concentration of ownership of UK plc by nominee companies. These companies act for the majority of institutional investment and increasing swathes of retail investment, with the growth of execution-only and broker platforms. As the banking and custody markets have consolidated globally, we now find that a handful of international players dominate the UK share register, as opposed to the much more fragmented situation when s212 was initially introduced.

The introduction of the s212 dispensation predicated the emergence of IR as a corporate function because the change in the Act allowed companies to understand more fully who owned and managed their shares, and with this knowledge came the urge to communicate.

Before 1985, UK companies relied heavily on their corporate broker for market intelligence, and share ownership information was just one of them. The house broker would know who had traded the company’s stock far more closely than anyone else because, in those days, most trades would go through the house broker’s book. In those days, there was a requirement for fund managers to seek best execution from stockbrokers for their trades – today this is usually no longer the case. The house broker’s institutional and retail clients would also be the major buyer of the company’s shares, often on the basis of a ‘nod and a wink’, as insider dealing was considered a normal part of City life, until it was outlawed explicitly by the Company Securities (Insider Dealing) Act of 1985.

Share ownership

Understanding who owned your shares was also not so important in a time when most stock in companies was owned by friends and family of the founders or directors of the company, and the overall retail ownership of your stock was much higher than now. The most significant change in the structure of the UK equity market from the 1960s onwards was the rise of the institutional investor and institutional asset management. This was the result of significant growth in the amount of money allocated to savings and insurance, whether through pensions or insurance funds initially or later via the intermediary collective investment vehicle of the unit trust (now more commonly known as the mutual fund). The level of retail ownership did not fall as much as shrink in proportion to the amount of money pouring into equities from the new breed of money managers of the 1970s.

The new investor profile of UK plc brought with it new challenges: although retail investors usually sided with management and were loyal long-term holders in their investee stocks, professional investors were a much more fickle bunch, willing to sell their shares to the highest bidder to bulk up the returns for their demanding clients. The market liberalisation of the Big Bang in 1986 heralded a sea-change in the UK capital markets, as the old-school boxing style of gentlemanly capitalism gave way to the rough-and-ready US bare-knuckle fighting of mergers and acquisitions. We entered the dangerous world of the unsolicited contested bid.

Suddenly, UK companies needed to know who owned them in order to defend themselves properly. They needed to know who owned other companies to take a view about whether they should buy them, as a defensive merger or to join in the feeding frenzy of acquisition and conglomeration. Senior management needed advisers in-house and externally to manage and advise on how to deal with these new turbulent equity markets and the predators that emerged therefrom. Thus were borne financial PR and investor relations in their modern forms. Financial PR was no longer just about acting as an out-sourced provider of content for annual reports and regulatory press releases, but instead it became a strategic and often public arena. Titans of industry, locked in corporate battle, would try to achieve knock-out blows against each other, guided by their trusty knights of combat, the PR gurus. The fight between Virgin and British Airways of 1993, commonly dubbed ‘the dirty tricks campaign’, is a classic of the genre but there were many others during the late 80s and early 90s. The gloves in UK business were off, as US styles of management and finance took hold.

Corporate Governance Code

Another aspect of US business culture that gained strength over the same period was corporate governance. This began not as an ethical or moral piece about the behaviour of company directors in their management of business but more as a way for shareholders to flex their muscle as owners of companies to improve returns on their investment. Governance and activism have always been close bedfellows, particularly in the US market historically and certainly in the UK latterly.

There was increasing media focus on the behaviour of major UK companies and their boards in the newly liberated financial markets, fascinated by both the febrile atmosphere of the M&A world and the various corporate scandals of the era. After BCCI, Polly Peck and, arguably more importantly, the shenanigans of Robert Maxwell, the City recognised that some new structures and rules, even if self-regulated, had to be introduced. If only to persuade the alarmed general public that order could be brought to what seemed like chaos and corruption.

Sir Adrian Cadbury set up his Corporate Governance Committee in 1991 under the auspices of the Financial Reporting Council and the London Stock Exchange, with the support of the accountancy profession, in order to bring back confidence in the UK markets. This lead to the production of a code which forms a major part of today’s Corporate Governance Code in the UK and similar codes around the world. A particularly British aspect of the original Cadbury Code, still in place, was the notion of ‘comply or explain’, which allows companies which do not follow every aspect of the Code to provide background to their diversion therefrom.

Many aspects of Sir Adrian’s Code are now taken as common-sense approaches to running public companies in the interests of all stakeholders. Although criminality and corruption cannot be regulated away, good governance in corporate life is viewed as basic market practice by the vast majority of investors and boards – and largely adhered to.

Principles of governance

A whole industry has built up around these basic principles of governance. This includes specialist governance investors within asset management firms, advisers who guide companies on governance and agencies measuring and auditing governance, in order to advise investors on the state of governance at their investee or target companies. Companies or investors have never taken governance so seriously. The recent changes to the UK regulatory environment surrounding ‘say on pay’ and directors’ re-election have sharpened the minds on both sides of the governance equation.

Governance matters and liaison with governance fund managers (or fund managers with governance concerns) have traditionally been the bailiwick of the company secretary in conjunction with the chairman, the senior independent director or occasionally executive management, if and when relevant. Governance could be seen in this sense to be a non-executive function, with a necessary distance from the executives, especially in the area of remuneration, where a critical distance can only be seen as healthy.

Investor relations officers (IROs), where present, have often not been party to or even aware of the discussions held between the ‘governance team’ and investors. However, it is often the governance officer at the asset management firm that the governance team meets, not the portfolio managers or buy-side analysts that the IROs deal with.

The company secretary

Every company is different and so we see many configurations of the ways that the company secretary and IRO work together. Yet there is a distinct correlation between the size of the company, how long it has been in existence and the degree of division between the functions. Simply put, the larger the company and the longer it has been operating, the more likely it is that company secretarial and investor relations functions will operate in separate ‘silos’ within the business. The only ongoing common bond, other than at AGM time and the production of the annual report, may well be the production of the IR section of the board report.

We know that this is not merely a case of governance ‘capture’ by the company secretarial profession. Many IROs will roll their eyes at the mention of governance, perceiving these issues to be non-strategic, an unwanted imposition of regulatory burden and a matter of non-substantial box-ticking, only with little upside for them or the company. This view has to change.

The understanding of investor relations and governance work as two separate practices is no longer sustainable. We already have a situation where the life of the public company can be affected significantly by external factors: voting by shareholders at the annual general meeting and the role of activist shareholders in creating change. Neither of these are new features of corporate life but there have been material changes over recent years in the way that decisions are made by investors. These changes affect the remits of both the company secretary and the IRO equally. They include:

  • Higher levels of voting by institutional investors at shareholder meetings as a result of the Stewardship Code
  • Increased importance of the proxy advisery agencies in terms of their influence on institutional shareholder voting 
  • Governance officers at asset managers have greater influence over voting decisions relative to the portfolio managers than ever before
  • Greater prominence given to governance and related issues (such as environmental and social issues) by investors when making stock selections and carrying out analysis of companies’ valuations
  • Rising levels of aggressive activism and the arrival in the UK of US-style litigation culture
  • Greater willingness amongst UK long-only ‘vanilla’ investors to join with activists to achieve corporate change
  • The arrival of collective engagement in the form of the newly formed UK Investor Forum.

On a practical basis, at IR meetings on their non-deal roadshows, IROs will now often meet a group of fund managers from the same investment management firm where equity, debt, governance and SRI-interested (socially responsible investment) fund managers are represented. Many investment management firms are breaking down their own silo approach, so that their governance officers will regularly accompany the portfolio managers to missionary or retention corporate access meetings.

Governance and IR

Corporate communication to the financial markets needs to be holistic. Just as we have seen the growth at larger companies of an integration of the equity and debt IR functions, there should also be greater integration of the governance and IR functions across all companies. The audiences are becoming unified and communication practice should follow suit.

There are circumstances where there should be a separation of process, in order to avoid conflicts of interest, such as around remuneration of directors. In general however, it seems clear that there should be a better knowledge capture and record keeping of governance meetings between company secretarial and IR teams. This will ensure that both sides understand better who has seen whom, when and why and therefore advise senior management accordingly.

This is the future of good IR and corporate secretary practice. If the audiences for IR and governance are integrating, and the importance of governance investors on the future of UK plc is also growing, then maintaining a silo-led approach is in itself poor corporate governance.

The dialogue between IR professionals and company secretarial teams must widen and deepen in the face of the changing nature of capital markets. This is especially important now that the role of the sell-side is evolving as a result of the regulatory changes regarding payment for corporate access and sell-side research. Companies need to understand their investors better than before and take a more proactive stance towards their IR activity, as the traditional support from their broker may deteriorate due to commercial pressures.

Company secretaries and IROs should work together more closely and efficiently to ensure that their companies have the best chance of flourishing in an increasingly difficult environment. Governance and investor relations are more closely linked than ever from the investor’s perspective, so corporate practice should reflect this.

ICSA Annual Conference 2016

Richard Davies will be speaking at the ICSA Annual Conference on 8 March. Book your place via the website.

Richard Davies is Managing Director at RD:IR

RD:IR expands further in the Norwegian market

Leading global investor relations consultancy, Richard Davies Investor Relations (RD:IR), is delighted to announce the acquisition of two more clients in the Norwegian market.

RD:IR has entered into contracts with two leading Norwegian companies, Storebrand and Nordic Semiconductor, to provide these companies with Nominee ID and CRM (Contact Relationship Management) services via its proprietary online platform, IR InTouch.  RD:IR is proud to strengthen its presence in Norway through this cooperation.

RD:IR is already widely recognised for the excellence of its proprietary investor relations online platform, which combines rigorous share register analysis, powerful targeting, in-depth profiling and tailored investor relations contact relationship management, to help companies manage their  stakeholders with one application.


RD:IR is an independent global investor relations consultancy, which provides a wide range of IR-related analysis, research and advisory services to over 630 UK and international companies and their advisors. Established in 2002, RD:IR is a leading international firm in the IR field.


The Storebrand Group is a leading player in the Nordic market for long-term savings and insurance. The company operates services for a total of 1.8 million customers in Norway and Sweden.

Nordic Semiconductor

Nordic Semiconductor (NOD) is a market leader in short-range wireless technology with ultralow power consumption.

RD:IR strengthens its international approach: new IR society memberships to start the new Year

Richard Davies Investor Relations (“RD:IR”) is pleased to announce that it is now a member of three international IR associations to complement its existing strong relationships with the UK IR Society and NIRI:

  • CLIFF, the French association of financial communications professionals
  • NIRA, the Norwegian Investor Relations Association
  • NEVIR, the Netherlands Association for Investor Relations

Joining these three leading IR associations reflects our understanding of the importance of being in touch with the international IR landscape and our increasing role in European markets.

RD:IR is proud to start its commitment as a new member of these organizations as Bronze Sponsor of NEVIR’s 9th annual awards dinner, the NEVIR Awards, which will take place in Amsterdam on 7th January 2016.   The event brings together Dutch professionals working in the Investor Relations and Financial Communication markets. Prizes will be awarded in two categories: “Best Investor Relations” and “Best IR Officer”.  This year NEVIR celebrates its 25th anniversary and RD:IR is delighted to become a member of the Association during this special year.

As a new member of these three IR associations, RD:IR is delighted to increase our significant contribution to the international IR environment.

RD:IR sponsors the 9th Dutch NEVIR Annual Awards

NEVIR logo

Richard Davies Investor Relations (“RD:IR”) is pleased to announce that it is now an Associate Member of NEVIR, the Netherlands Association for Investor Relations. As a sign of its commitment to the Dutch IR market, RD:IR will be the proud Bronze Sponsor of NEVIR’s 9th annual awards dinner, the NEVIR Awards, which will take place in Amsterdam on 7th January 2016.   The event brings together Dutch professionals working in the Investor Relations and Financial Communication markets. Prizes will be awarded in two categories: “Best Investor Relations” and “Best IR Officer”.  This year NEVIR celebrates its 25th anniversary and RD:IR is delighted to become a member of the Association during this special year.

RD:IR Gold Sponsor of IR Society Best Practice Awards

On 24th November 2015, the annual Investor Relations Society Best Practice Awards dinner took place at the Pavilion, a fantastic venue at the Tower of London. The event saw over 500 IR professionals gather together to celebrate quoted companies which are leading the way in engaging with the capital markets.  The evening was hosted by the comedian, Shappi Khorsandi,  whose zany humour entertained the audience, including six tables from RD:IR.

There were two sets of awards presented – the self-entry awards, with the winners determined by a panel of judges, and the voted awards, with the winners determined by votes cast by the buy- and sell-sides.

RD:IR was pleased to be a Gold Sponsor of the event, and also sponsored the key award of the evening – Best Overall Company IR Award.  In this voted award, presented by Richard Davies (Managing Director, RD:IR), AstraZeneca was announced the winner.  The IR team was commended for their deep understanding of both the business and what capital markets need.

IR Soc awards 

Richard Davies (far right) and Shappi Khorsandi flank the AstraZeneca IR team

RD:IR would like to congratulate all the shortlisted companies and the winners at the 2015 IR Society Best Practice Awards.

Please see below a list of all the winners.


  • International – Uralkali
  • Small Cap & Aim – Trifast
  • FTSE 250 – Croda
  • FTSE 100 – Aviva


  • International – Novartis
  • FTSE 100 – British Land


  • International – Gazprom Neft
  • Small Cap & Aim – Trifast
  • FTSE 250 – OneSavings Bank
  • FTSE 100 – Barclays


  • International – BASF
  • Small Cap & Aim – De La Rue
  • FTSE 250 – Go-Ahead Group
  • FTSE 100 – Anglo American


  • International – BASF
  • FTSE 250 – Go-Ahead Group
  • FTSE 100 – British Land

BEST NEWCOMER TO IR – Adam Phillips, Halfords Group

BEST IRO – David Walker, Hays


Richard Davies moderates IR Seminar on Governance

ir banner

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


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.