The investor relations industry is constantly evolving. Because it tends to change rapidly, IROs must stay ahead of emerging trends and developments and make new connections to thrive in an ever-changing and complex landscape.
No matter the sector, company size, or market cap, individuals from every corner of the IR field will tell you there is incredible value in having a network of like-minded professionals you can lean on for valuable perspective and advice.
And what better place to build a solid network and leverage a community than the 2023 NIRI Annual Conference?
NIRI’s Annual Conference is the premier professional development and networking event of the year. This year was no exception. From Tuesday, June 6 through Thursday, June 8, hundreds of IR professionals from across the U.S. and around the world came together in Chicago to connect with their peers and advance their IR programs and careers.
As Committee Vice Chair of this year’s conference, I’m incredibly proud of the program we were able to put together. Whether it was the incredible keynote presentations, the educational sessions, or the IR showcase, NIRI 2023 had countless learning opportunities for every attendee to build their expertise within the industry.
Throughout the three-day event, our team connected with the IR community in person and heard varying perspectives on important IR issues. Continue reading for our top highlights and takeaways of NIRI Annual 2023.
To kick off this year’s conference, Irwin hosted a get-together on day one for the IR community to network and socialize. With an open-air terrace and panoramic views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, we started our conference week with clients, partners, and the IR community—enjoying the best rooftop Chicago has to offer.
With over 60 attendees, including IR experts such as Lisa Williams of CITI, Scott Einberger of JLL, Kimberly Esterkin of ASGN Incorporated, Quentin Weber of WSP Global , and many more, we were able to make new connections and strengthen existing ones with peers in the IR community.
IROS must be open to change and take on new challenges. Whether it be joining a newly public company and starting from square one, inheriting an IR program that requires new creative shifts in thinking, or simply re-energizing current initiatives, there is significant value in evaluating your strategy.
On the second day of NIRI Annual 2023, Irwin hosted an educational session: Realize, Refresh, Rebuild: Strategies for Starting or Transforming Your IR Playbook.
The goal of this panel was to help IR professionals learn more about creating modern, high-performing programs.
With myself as the moderator, the discussion featured industry experts such as Tiffany Kanaga of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Megan McGrath of Cushman Wakefield, and Ryan Fiedler of Caterpillar. Together, they shared their insights with a packed room on:
Their insights included advice such as:
It’s no secret that an IRO will wear various hats throughout their careers. But how can IR professionals drive value in every aspect of their role, and ensure they refine their soft skills that are imperative to success?
To help answer this question, we partnered with NIRI ACC member Jordyn Eskijian of H&R Block to plan and host an educational session called IR Marketing & Comms: Soft Skills for Success and Strategies to Elevate Your Game.
In a panel discussion with Fabiane Goldstein of Grayling, Hunter Wells of the Hanover Insurance Group, and Meredith Versen of Ingevity, we shared new ideas and practical experiences about driving value in all aspects of IR while exuding confidence.
Throughout the session, Goldstein, Wells, and Versen provided their expert perspective to help the audience develop a deeper understanding of the soft skills needed to succeed in an IR role, including:
Aside from moderating various educational sessions, I was fortunate to introduce two general sessions at this year’s conference, including:
Demystifying Hedge Funds and the Increasingly Confusing Buy Side
As those in the industry know, buy-side asset managers rapidly evolve their complexity and sophistication to generate investment performance in all market environments. Increasingly, traditional labels used by IROs are challenging to apply as more firms implement multi-strategy approaches to investing.
While the “hedge fund” label is often used as a catch-all in the IR community to refer to “an institution that can short my stock,” hedge funds can take on many different shapes and approaches to investing. Understanding all these complexities has many implications for IROs, from who you meet with (and why), to how you think about shareholder targeting.
To help attendees make sense of it all, the session heard from some of the most forward-thinking asset managers in the industry: Mark Pellegrino, Liz Librizzi, Ed Young, and Bill Wappler. Together, they shared how their firms have evolved, how they manage their different strategies, and explained why understanding the nuances of the buy-side can help find the real buyers of a stock.
I also had the opportunity to introduce the final session of the event:
Creating Systematic Change – Being the Change You Wish to See in the World
The closing panel of NIRI Annual 2023 put a spotlight on people that have broken barriers and created systematic change in the world of finance, asset management, and investor relations.
Meredith Sumpter, Lisa Dyson, and Peggy Foran came together to discuss how attendees can create systematic change in their environment, whether in IR, finance, or asset management. Through their passion, leadership, and sheer will, these women actively choose to be the change they wish to see in the world, and their session was an inspiring way to close out the event.
For those of you who could attend this year’s event, I hope you enjoyed the conference and found it rewarding—both personally and professionally. Thanks to Matt Brusch and NIRI for the opportunity to act as Committee Vice-Chair alongside Patrick Davidson and Chair Hala Elsherbini, and the rest of the committee for the vital role everyone played in developing an impactful content program.
Be sure to save the date—the 2024 NIRI Annual Conference will be held June 9th through June 11th at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco.
I look forward to next year’s event and hope to meet you all in person next Spring. If you would like to connect with the Irwin team before then, keep an eye on our LinkedIn page for updates on what events we’ll be attending next.