How to Start an In-House Investor Relations Function
Whether your company is newly public or has been in the game for a while, you may find it beneficial to oversee your investor relations functions in-house. While there are certainly benefits to working with outside consultants, managing your IR in-house allows you to have greater understanding of IR impacts and more control over your communications strategy. In this article, the challenges and benefits of having an internal investor relations function will be discussed along with some steps to get you started.
Not all companies have the luxury of building an internal IR team, but it’s still beneficial to manage some aspects of IR in-house. Our recommendation is, at the very least, to have your IR “mission control”, or a central point of truth for all your IR data, managed in-house.
Challenges of In-House IR
One of the main challenges of managing investor relations in-house is a lack of time and resources, specially for newly public companies. IR functions usually fall on the shoulders of busy CFOs, leaving them to think the only option they have is to delegate IR tasks to personnel in the Finance department or external consultants.
In the past this may have been true. Managing your own IR program was cumbersome. With infinite spreadsheets and clunky and expensive software, it often made more sense for companies to outsource to an IR advisory firm.
That said, the IR landscape has changed a lot in the past few years, and it’s easier than ever to target, track, and communicate with investors. While advisors still play a key role in assisting companies with investor relations, there are many benefits to keeping mission control in-house.
Benefits of In-House IR
Some of the main benefits of in-house IR include external communication alignment, greater access and ownership of data and insights, and better relationship management.
One of the main benefits for executing an IR strategy internally is that it is far easier to get alignment on communication with internal stakeholders. While functions such as PR, marketing, and customer service may mean well, it is always a risk that their messaging can contradict or jeopardize your investor messaging. An in-house IR representative is best equipped to align internal stakeholders on public market communication strategies.
Data / Insights for Board
Data is invaluable for just about every decision you make, so it would be a mistake to forgo access to your company’s investor data. Access to your shareholder data, research and estimates, and NOBO lists should at the very least be accessible on demand. This mitigates disruptions to business continuity; even if your advisor relationships are interrupted you still maintain ownership of your data and relationships. Having all your research and data on hand allows you to be nimble with your IR strategy so you can get in front of obstacles before they even arise.
The third and final benefit of an in-house investor relations program is that you can maintain a direct relationship with investors. While warm introductions are always helpful, it’s valuable to manage your own investor relationships. Interruptions to your relationships with consultants and analysts should never stand in the way of your relationships with the investor community. Having access to your investor CRM at all times is the optimal way to oversee your investor relationships.
How to Get Started
How you approach building your in-house IR function will depend on how you’re equipped to staff your team. You might be a CFO running the IR Department as well, or you may have the option to bring on one or more investor relations officers (IROs). Additionally, taking your investor relations functions in-house doesn’t mean you have to give up working with IR advisory firms, it simply means that you have greater access to oversee and collaborate on their efforts.
Centralize Your IR Data and Contacts
It’s challenging, but not impossible to manage IR as a standalone CFO. Whether you accept the help of advisors or do it yourself, your first objective should be setting up a central hub or “mission control” for all your investor relations data.
When we discuss having a “mission control” for investor relations, what we are referring to is a single source for your IR data. This means that your shareholder list, investor targeting, peer surveillance, investor conversations and contacts, as well as analyst research and estimate data should all be accessible within a central hub. Not only does this make it easier to find and access information, it makes it easy for you to oversee your investor relations even if you are working with third party consultants or analysts. Keeping a centralized system helps you ensure that all your data is available within the organization, on demand.
As a bonus, should your IR team grow to include an IRO or advisors, everything they need to get up to speed will be ready for them.
An example of a mission control system being used to effectively manage a team of consultants is Irwin client Ashley Schafer of Converge Technologies. Ashley works with her colleagues as well as external consultants to conduct investor outreach and roadshows. Irwin helps their team target appropriate investors and avoid overlapping efforts.
"When conducting IR activity both in-house and with third-party consultants, connectivity across teams must be a high priority in order to complement varying efforts and for a multitude of other reasons. I'm thankful that we have Irwin to help make the process of working together more fluid."
- Ashley Schafer, Investor Relations Coordinator, Converge Technologies
Hiring an Investor Relations Officer
At a certain point, you may decide that hiring an IRO is the logical next step for your investor relations team. The IRO is a unique role that requires analytical skills in addition to strong communication skills. The typical responsibilities of an IRO include but are not limited to:
- Data analysis
- Presentations and data visualization
- Financial modeling & research model creation
- Information collection/preparation
- Communication with equity research analysts
- Investor event preparation
Many companies choose someone internally who can fulfill these requirements, while others may choose to hire an external candidate. The typical IRO candidate has a Bachelors or Masters in Finance, Accounting, Communications, Economics, in addition to several years of work experience in a related field, such as capital markets.
IROs are invaluable for growing the capabilities of your IR function. Full time IR personnel can not only take care of your regulatory financial disclosures, they can also proactively pursue new investors, execute investor engagement campaigns, help to protect your board from activists, and spearhead ESG initiatives.
Even if hiring an IRO is out of the question, we still recommend designating a single person to act as a liaison between the company and external parties. This ensures that there is a streamlined flow of information between external partners and the company, reducing the likelihood of miscommunication or lost information.
If you’re considering bringing your investor relations team in-house, you should start by ensuring you have a centralized platform that allows you to streamline your investor relations functions. From there, whether you decide to run IR single handedly, with advisors or with IROs, you can rest assured that your contacts and data are safe in-house.