Improvement areas for Swedish IR – Targeting and treating investors as VIP-clients

Yesterday, Regi hosted their Annual IR Nordic Market Awards in Stockholm, awarding the top ranked IR-professionals in Sweden. Many congratulations to Nobia, and Autoliv, winning the awards for best mid and large cap company.

For me it was striking that several speakers as Jenny Rosberg, Nasdaq OMX Nordic and Carina Lundberg Markow at Folksam stressed the need for Swedish companies to:

1. Put more effort into identifying and targeting relevant funds and investors that might be interested in their sector and industry as long term partners.

2. Spend more time getting to know your existing institutional investors, identifying their agenda and what perceptions they have about your company.

Why do investor targeting?

After meeting around 30 Swedish IROs the latest years, my experience is that very few have a strategy for their shareholder composition and even fewer target investors on a regular basis. These assumptions were also confirmed in IR Insight 2009, a survey with 270 Nordic IROs, conducted by Sculptor IR and Regi. When attending a round table with SIRA about a year ago, some of the discussions were if it is the IR-team that should be responsible for developing a strategy for shareholder composition or if it is a question for senior management or the board?

I see no obstacles to why the initiative can’t come from the IRO. While a majority of the IR-team’s are struggling to have CFO and CEO attending roadshows, they would be more keen to attend these events if you can say that they are meeting investors that:

A) Have invested in your peers and having great insight and interest in your industry leading to more qualitative discussions and better odds for an investment.

B) Have a long-term approach and commitment to their investments.

Do you know your investors’ agenda and perceptions about your company?

Jan Carlsson, CEO of Autoliv that was awarded for Best CEO and Best Company in the large cap category delivered the most useful advice from the event:

“We see IR as a customer relations function, servicing one of our most important customer group; our investors. Our main objective is to deliver information and service that makes it easier for them to do a good job.”

So if you define your investors as a very important client wouldn’t you would like to know:

A) More about how they view the strengths and weaknesses in your company’s investment case?

B) Their agenda for their investment?

Without capital from your long-term investors, it is difficult or almost a mission impossible to grow and expand the company’s business and execute by strategy. By listen and constantly receive feedback from your investors you might be able to have their confidence in a down-turn, or during a hostile bidding process.

The lesson learnt from the credit crunch is that building relations with investors is an ongoing process; it is to late to start when the crisis already has hit.

For me it is still a surprise that very few companies have Autoliv’s approach to IR, treating their investors as VIP-clients.  Which sales manager wouldn’t spend time building relations with their largest clients, and on a continuous basis doing customer satisfaction surveys identifying areas of improvement ?

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About irinsights

Senior consultant at PR and Communications firm Springtime in Stockholm, Sweden. Focus on IR, social media & perception studies. Blog about trends and challenges for Scandinavian IR professionals, providing insights on how to use social media, corporate blogs and on-line communication to reach out to investors in a changing media landscape. Everything I post here is my personal opinion, and does not represent the views of my employer.
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