Mark Fasken: This is Winning IR, a podcast exploring the diverse insights within the IR community. Join me, Mark Fasken, as I sit down with IROs and other IR stakeholders to discuss the winning strategies, tactics, and shifts in thinking that are redefining the profession. With increasing expectations on issuers to provide more and more information to investors, corporate access plays a pivotal part in creating meaningful and strategic relationships between investors and management.
Our guest today is a seasoned corporate access executive with a wealth of experience in sell side research, sales, and management roles at investment banks such as Lehman Brothers, Deutsche Bank, and Salomon Smith Barney. Mary Turnbull is currently the Managing Director, Corporate Access, Institutional Equity Sales at Raymond James where she focuses on collaborating with IR professionals to develop strategies for IR outreach and targeting.
She is also responsible for partnering with capital markets, investment banking, and research professionals to develop and source content for Raymond James hosted general and sector specific conferences, summits, symposiums, NDRs, and bespoke and industry experts. She is founder and co chair of the Women in Capital Markets Symposium, an annual event devoted to advancing the professional development of women at Raymond James.
She recently received the NIRI Fellows Award at the annual conference in Chicago and is an active board member of the NIRI Silicon Valley Chapter. She has some amazing advice when it comes to corporate access for investor relations professionals that our listeners will really benefit from.
So, Mary, I feel like there's been a lot of chat lately around corporate access, virtual, in person, hybrid. What does corporate access even mean at times? And so I thought a good place to start would be what does it mean to be a director of corporate access? And how are these corporate access teams typically structured?
Mary Turnbull: Sure. So, you know, you're absolutely right. Corporate access is top of mind for everyone, and it's certainly something that we spend a lot of time on here on the sell side. Buy-side is spending a ton of time working with their partners on corporate access and talking with investors because it's really important.
And really, at its core, what it really means is, how can we connect investors with the management of companies that they either own or they're thinking about owning? From a sell side director corporate access perspective, me and my team, we sit in the middle between research, between our research sales team, capital markets, sometimes the investment bankers, and really try to understand what are all the all the needs that the different stakeholders have and how can we support them and we'll get into that a little bit later talking about the different ways, but at its core, it's really a seat that sits right in the middle of things. So my particular specialty is I cover technology and industrial companies.
I've got two other people on my team that spend time with the other research sectors that we cover and then we have a whole execution team that basically once we decide, hey, we're going to go on a non deal road show to New York on August 15th and then they will spend all their time working with the IR team to develop a plan, look at targets, understand what management's travel schedule is like, and really put together that, that experience so that it's a customized experience, and it also makes the most of the CEO or CFO's time. We all know everybody's super busy, and we want to maximize those investor interactions.
Mark Fasken: Awesome. And, and speaking of sort of maximizing the interactions, I mean, corporate access is a, you know, it's a relatively broad term as we think about the types of interactions that can occur, right? You've got in person meetings, you've got sort of non deal roadshows, you've got conferences, you've got sort of site visits or field trips, I think is some of the terminology that you'd use.
Do you find that certain formats are more valuable to IROs and management or investors? Are there some that you think are preferred over others?
Mary Turnbull: You know, that's a really good question. I think if I was to generalize, I would say that most investors would prefer the CEO and the CFO to come to their office.
And have an hour long sit down and have a face to face meeting where they can really dig into every aspect of a company's business. So I'd say, if you wanted to generalize, that's probably the most important thing. Now, that being said. As I mentioned earlier, everybody's super busy and you have to figure out when you have time to do that.
If you look at a conference, a conference is a super efficient way for an investor to see a lot of different investors at the same time, particularly a sector conference where they can see maybe 10 or 15 companies over two days that they own in their portfolio and maybe some others that are there. So I think that's why you get a lot of requests for IR to prioritize coming to conferences. They're super important, both for the investor and for the research analyst. I would also say that attendance at industry events has gone through the roof. And I, the reason why is I think because we had three years of really no travel, no real in person things, and people really want to see how have businesses come out of COVID.
What is the new normal? If you go to an industry event and you say it's a, you know, say Salesforce has Dreamforce. You go, you talk to their customers, you see what the floor buzz is, you see what the interaction is. So not only can you spend time with IR and some of the industry execs, but you can also see what customers are thinking about and what they're looking at.
And we're finding that investors are really finding that really important right now. So we're really looking to wherever there's an industry event that an analyst is going to saying, Hey, to our investor clients. We'd love to have you tag along because you can get some really important insights out of that.
Mark Fasken: Great. That's awesome. I just have a follow up question on the conferences, because to your point, they're very efficient. They're a great use of time. I've certainly spoken to IROs who have said there are so many conferences to choose from. And I think sometimes the challenge is which ones do I go to? And then how do I make sure that I'm getting the most out of them that I'm meeting with the right investors? So how would you recommend an IRO think about which conferences to go to? But also, how do you work with companies to determine that meeting schedule, or is there, is it just predetermined and you just have to show up?
Mary Turnbull: I I would say from, from the, the calendar perspective, I would say that the larger conferences, they're pretty consistent. We host our big generalist conference every year. The 1st week of March. Everybody knows that's when it happens for the technology sector that I cover. There's a bunch of big bellwether conferences.
Everyone knows those times. So I think if you think about your schedule for the year, and it doesn't mean that as an IRO, you have to commit early, but I think what I'm seeing a lot of best as the best practice is IRO sort of mapping out their schedule for the year and thinking about what conferences they want to attend.
Is it a San Francisco conference, where a lot of the West Coast investors are going to come? Is it an East Coast based conference? And thinking about it from a broader perspective, I think also from the sense of the analyst relationship that you have with your covering analysts, it's super important for analysts to have, especially the bellwether companies at their conferences.
So I think that's a key differentiator. In terms of meetings, I think that one thing that IROs don't do enough of is really be clear from the get go as to what their targets are. At the end of the day, the company owns the meeting and we on the sell side will always have our priority investors and how we'd like to schedule.
But it's really a partnership. This is a long game. And it doesn't work if we try to jam you with a bunch of meetings that you don't want to have. So, if you're up front, if you're clear, say, hey, these are three really key meetings that we want to have. Please reach out to these investors and schedule them.
And then please let us know who are your priorities. And I think that communication back and forth is really key. And I think it's definitely something that more and more IROs are thinking about. But it's one thing every time I do a panel or a discussion, I talk to IROs about and say you control this meeting at the end of the day.
And we want to know what your targets are. We want to share what our targets are, and we can come up with a really happy medium and a great partnership.
Mark Fasken: Yeah, I think that's a great point. Like that give and take is really important because I've heard that to people talking about working with the sell side and giving them targets, but also recognizing that.
The sell-side has their goals, too. And so how do you sort of meet in the middle in a balanced way? That's great feedback. Okay, awesome. And so moving on to our next question talking about how IROs can work with corporate access teams to sort of achieve their outreach goals. We hear a lot about targeting.
Targeting is this big sort of general topic. How do you see IROs interacting with corporate access teams to get into some of those investor names that maybe they haven't been able to before?
Mary Turnbull: Sure. I think, and we talked a lot about this at the NIRI conference a few weeks ago.
I think targeting is something that's really important, but it's also kind of the holy grail. If you look at the targeting software that suppliers like you can offer, there's a lot of really great data, but it's only in a starting point. And if you think about it's all based on 13 F filings and by their nature, they're already out of date.
But they can give you a lot of really good clues, and I think that's the starting point, and that's one thing that we work a lot with IROs on is, you come up with these initial lists, and then, the other thing that I think is really helpful is to see who owns your peers, where has the buying and selling been, both of your own stock as well as from your peers, and having all of that and looking for trends in that data, you know,
and then going back and asking questions, either one great source for asking the question is talking to the research analyst and understanding where he or she has been getting calls on the name. What is the investor discussion that they're having on the name? We have a whole database of client interactions.
We can pull that and see, who's been reading the research report that the analyst has written and what are the questions that are coming in? And then the other key piece is the salesperson because they are talking to investors day in and day out. So they provide a lot of key on the ground feedback that we can use to kind of layer a picture.
So start with the data. Talk with the analyst, see what the data and the client interactions is, and then get that in person feedback from the salespeople who are having those conversations. So I think that gives you a very layered approach to targeting, so that the IRO can then use that in in coming back and saying at a conference, okay, I, I'd like to see, I think these three investors in New York would have interest and if they pass, or they're on vacation, or they're not interested, the sales people can give them that feedback.
I think it takes a lot of work to get that, but. I think it's a really valuable way to spend the time that an IRO has to really target and really dig it and understand who, who owns, who doesn't own, who sold, why they sold. There's a lot of information out there, and I think the more you can use your partners, the better you are in being able to provide that information to your management teams.
Mark Fasken: Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, I think to your point, we obviously do a lot of targeting exercises with companies. And as you know, IROs are very busy. And so we'll often get people that say, well, great. I have these, this list of targets who invest in my peers or my sector, whatever it is. I don't know these people.
What am I going to do now, cold call them or email them? Like who's going to get back to me and exactly what you just said is usually one of our recommendations. Well, why don't you go and talk to your sell-side partners and see who they have relationships with? Or maybe who's attending these conferences?
And we did a, we did another episode with Scott Einberger at JLL. And that's exactly what he mentioned, right? Was how do you, okay. Look at and say, yeah, this is my list that maybe they're going to conferences. Maybe my sell side partners know them. And, to your point earlier, sort of treating it as a partnership and a collaboration.
So that's an awesome point, which sort of goes into our, our next question, which is talking about some of the best practices as it relates to corporate access and things that you would encourage IR teams to consider. So we talked about the collaboration around conferences and sharing names, targeting perspectives, same idea of like, get together and talk about the names you're focused on.
Any other best practices that you've seen that are really effective?
Mary Turnbull: I think it all starts and ends with communication. And, to what we were just talking about, the more that an IR can communicate, what the priorities are, what the goals are for a specific trip, or a specific conference attendance.
That is the key point that really is the start and end of the best practices for the IR. I would also say, and particularly lately, I think we've all suffered a lot of travel friction, to put it kindly, and being able to be nimble and have a backup plan, understand that things may change.
I think that's something that IROs really need to, to be mindful of, especially when they're dealing with very busy C suite executives. Is really having that plan in place and understanding that things change and knowing how to manage through them. I think that's what I've seen is the biggest challenge right now.
And I think that the challenges as we've come out of the pandemic period have they kind of change every few months, but I think right now, it's really the question of how do you manage through a lot of rapid change and travel friction?
Mark Fasken: So the other question I have is about the sell-side model. People talk a lot about getting access and getting corporate access and getting coverage. So maybe if you could just give us a bit of an explanation of the sell-side model and why it's significant and important for IROs to understand.
Mary Turnbull: Absolutely. So the sell-side is actually, it's kind of an odd model because we basically create a really expensive product in equity research and we give it away for free and then we negotiate with our clients and they tell us how valuable it is by either their votes or their trading commissions or payments.
So it's kind of an odd business model, but it really works. And I think that the onus is on us on the sell side to provide investors with really differentiated research, with really top quality analysts who have really good insights, but also to provide them with access to the company management teams of the companies that we cover on the research side.
I think that's something that has not ever been really clearly understood. I think a lot more people are talking about it again. We talked a lot about it at the NIRI national conference and, it's something that's really important, and it's really important for IR to understand why it is that they're getting so much requests for that.
Because part of how investors value and pay the sell side firms, is through corporate access. So if they go to a conference and they send 10 investors and they send and they meet with 20 or 30 companies that are really important, they'll value that really highly and that they will then reflect that in the payment to the street.
There's a lot of ways that investors can pay us. They can pay us in straight commission checks, they can pay us through trading volumes, we have electronic trading and there's multiple different ways that investors interact with a firm like ours, or any other brokerage firm. And I think that that's, that having that deep relationship is really important, but it's also really important for the research analysts to see how investors are interacting with the company management teams as they're sitting across the table from them, either at an NDR or at a conference, because then you really understand what are investors thinking about this company, and the analysts can really then include that in their research that reaches a wider audience. So, again, it's really a circular wheel.
Everyone has their place in the in the research economy, and I think that corporate access kind of sits in the middle of it, and drives a lot of the other pieces
Mark Fasken: And so that it's helpful to understand. And the question that I'm sure you know, you get a lot and I certainly hear a lot and we talked about at events all the time,
is coverage and getting coverage, especially as it relates to those small and mid-cap companies. How can an IRO go about getting coverage if they are working in a smaller mid-cap company? What are some of the considerations?
Mary Turnbull: Yeah, it, this is a tough one and I think I, I'd like to start with, you know what the reality is from the investor side is for a lot of investors, they will actually have a floor of, you cannot invest in a company that's below X market cap and a certain trading volume.
Partially because a lot of these investors have become so big that if it's a small thinly traded name, they can't get in and out of it easily. And so, a lot of firms have put in parameters around market cap and trading volume, which is not great news for small cap companies. That being said, there is still an important market for that.
So, my recommendation is, is to really provide corporate access when you can, because that is something that a research analyst will do. Have a relationship with analysts that cover peers of your company. And offer to be a sounding board, offer to speak on panels to be an expert, just to increase a lot of exposure.
I think that's 1 way that people can really focus on that. But it is a tough challenge. I'm, I wish I had a better answer for that. But that is the reality for most of the larger Wall Street firms. There are some smaller firms out there that do focus on small cap and micro cap, and those are another avenue to pursue.
Mark Fasken: Awesome. Okay, great. And so you spoke to this a little bit in as you're explaining the sell-side model, but maybe just revisit that for a second because you just mentioned it even just now just saying, it is important that you're providing that corporate access. Why is it important to provide sell side analysts with corporate access?
Because I've certainly and maybe you have as well heard situations where management teams are like, we're busy running the business, we don't have time to talk to investors and things like that. So why is it important to make that time?
Mary Turnbull: Sure. I think that the really, it comes down to economics, it costs a lot of money to provide research coverage and to provide estimates, and all CEOs are like, okay, what's the consensus estimate on our stock and what are people saying? What are the ratings on the stock? Because a lot of people do follow that. And I know our we can talk about retail a little bit later, but our retail advisors all follow that.
And it's a really important thing for a publicly traded company. With that, obviously it's expensive to provide research coverage. And one of the ways, as we mentioned earlier, that. Raymond James or any other sell side brokerage is paid is by corporate access, and attendance at conferences and you
this is something that I think that was not talked about for a long time, but I know my analysts have been pretty explicit. We've talked about it a lot at both at NIRI events, at IR magazine events, that it's really important. And I think the transparency of people understanding why it's important is, has been a really good thing that I think has come out over the last couple of years.
Mark Fasken: It really boils down to if you don't give the sell side the access, it's hard to make a business case for continuing to cover and provide research.
Mary Turnbull: Exactly. And having coverage is really important, and it's, it's part of a part of how being a public company works, and having a good base of coverage is really important, which is why I understand why it's hard for small and micro caps that don't have as much coverage.
Mark Fasken: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Okay. I want to revisit just the investor targeting discussion for a second, because we talked about how IROs can get more out of their targeting efforts by collaborating with corporate access teams and the sell side generally. Are there any common mistakes that you see as it relates to targeting that you would recommend against?
Mary Turnbull: I think that, especially for people newer in the industry, I think there's certain firms like, you don't go see Vanguard in Philadelphia because it's an index fund and they don't meet with investors. And really understanding from from an investor relations 101 perspective of, there are certain people that just aren't going to meet and understanding that.
And I think that there's a lot of new people that have come into the field. So understanding those sort of basic parameters of what the targets are, I think is really important. I think the other, and I wouldn't call it necessarily a mistake, but what's really challenging right now is because certain firms may say that they're based in Boston, and you would assume that most portfolio managers and analysts are based in Boston.
In fact, one lives in Salt Lake City, several are in San Francisco, and they're all over the country. And I think that makes for a bit of a challenge when it comes to targeting and figuring out what cities you're going to go visit on the non dual road show, because if you've got a target and then you say, Oh, well, they're not in Boston, I actually have to go to San Francisco to see them.
So there's a lot of displacement. I would also say we don't even necessarily know where everyone is. So when we have a non deal roadshow, we'll advertise it to our whole system. And I think that services like CorpAxe is really important in that way, too, because all of that access is advertised, and people that subscribe to that model, they can see, oh, hey, this guy's going to be in San Francisco. Oh, yeah, I'm going to be there that week. So I can book a meeting there. So I think that's another challenge that, part of it is, you're just never going to know until you actually start digging in and looking into that. I think those are really the biggest challenges.
Mark Fasken: Yeah. Yeah. I think that that idea of focusing more on fit and likelihood of meeting and investment, rather than just size and reputation is a great one. And to your point, working with your sell side partners to better understand, who is actually taking meetings, who is investing right now, who is interested in the sector is super helpful.
Going back to the sort of small cap discussion for a second. Any suggestions or advice for small cap companies who are trying to reach retail investors?
Mary Turnbull: Sure. I think one of the things and retail in general, a firm like Raymond James, or that has a large number of financial advisors. One of my pieces of advice is to do an institutional event, be it a non deal roadshow or a conference, because after that event, the analyst will write a report.
It may influence his or her rating on the report or estimates. And the financial advisors at firms that have them, and there's a number of the big sell side firms that have a pretty large advisor population, they all read those and they follow the analyst recommendations pretty closely. So doing an institutional limit, you'll also see a lot of retail because you won't see it directly, but it will be happening behind the scenes. So I think that's a really important thing that a lot of people don't realize. The other thing about retail is, most, many of our clients, actually, the asset owners are retail investors, so if you go to a lot of the large long only firms, all of those asset owners are actually retail investors. Just like you and me. I'd also say that there's some been some interesting developments on the street in terms of companies like the share program that Asbury IR is doing.
And that's gotten a pretty big reach. And interestingly, a lot of their programs reach not only retail investors, but also institutional investors as well. So I think that's a really good innovation in the marketplace that's really addressing a need. Because if you think about retail advisors, we have about 3,000 offices spread across the country, it's just not efficient to go visit individual branch offices.
But if you can leverage technology and different platforms in order to reach a broader audience, I think that's a great use of technology. And I would expect that over the coming years, we'll probably see more of those types of innovations come out. I don't think that. You know, if you think about corporate access, it's not really a standalone business.
It's part of a bigger ecosystem, but having those targeted events and those targeted ways to reach harder to access investors, I think. That's a great way that technology will play into corporate access over the next few years.
Mark Fasken: Yeah, that's a great point. And just going back to the advisor offices and meeting with the investment advisors, maybe more directly.
We've heard instances of companies that are doing lunches or breakfast or whatever it is where you bring some of these advisors together. Not even necessarily around a specific firm, it's you go to Toronto as an example and you invite a bunch of advisers that are in in that city.
Do you ever see companies coming in and finding ways whether it's like webinars or anything to present to a broader group of the advisors, or do you find that's mostly just done through the research analyst notes?
Mary Turnbull: I would say it's A small amount, for most corporate access teams on the sell-side, we really focus on the institutional market. We do have a team that's within Raymond James that works with our financial advisers, and they will do some things like that occasionally, like put potentially do a webinar just for retail advisors. I have seen some breakfast and lunch. It's usually over a meal where advisors will meet management teams. But again, it's, it, it's really not that efficient from the time to actually get there in person. But I do think that using some technology, using some virtual meetings is a way to do that.
Mark Fasken: Awesome. Okay, great. Well, we're coming up to our last question here. And I want to talk about specifically around roadshows, because as you know, it is a huge investment of time and something a lot of IROs are doing. What are some of your top recommendations to ensure that a roadshow is successful?
And also, are there any things that you would recommend IROs not do?
Mary Turnbull: To me, a successful roadshow comes down to two things, is having a plan, and having a plan, and by that, I really mean, don't wing it. I think that there's. And things will always go wrong. We all have experienced a lot of that in our lives, particularly lately with travel, and the more that you can plan ahead and you can say, hey, my CEO is gluten free, making sure that when your sell side partner caters that, that breakfast and lunch, that there's a gluten free meal and you've clearly given that instruction that
Mark Fasken: You don't want a hangry, a hangry CEO, that's, that's number one tip.
Mary Turnbull: Hangry CEO is not a good CEO and I have gone out and, and, you know, bought stuff when there were not enough snacks for a CEO at a conference.
Um, so. You know, I know how important that is. So I think that the planning making sure it like if there's any anything that's. Out of the ordinary, making sure that your partners know that, that you're very clear about it and you understand what that is. I would also , and this is something I think we're all going to have to deal with both in personal and business travel.
I've been on 5 flights in the last a few weeks and all but one was delayed significantly. So I think we also have to think about not cutting things too closely, not flying in expecting to fly in at nine and make a 10 o'clock meeting. And having those contingency plans. So I think those all go in the what's success.
And then also what to think about when things go wrong.
Mark Fasken: As it relates to, to the preparation of the plan, do you see a lot of companies sending materials to investors before the meetings like that especially if it's maybe a 1st time meeting, are you finding that there's sort of prep calls, pre calls to make sure that that you're not walking into the meeting and the investors are asking sort of basic questions about the business, or maybe the management team is going into very high level things that perhaps are the best use of time.
Mary Turnbull: I think that's a really good point. I'd say it's a mixture. I'd people are really shying away from printed decks. At this point, I think everyone's very environmentally conscious and doesn't want to see paper wasted, but everybody has a deck. Most IRs have a great deck on their website, which is really informative, and I think a lot of people use that information that's on the IR website ahead of time to prepare.
I think if, especially if it's a new meeting, I think IR is... Really well placed to say, Hey, do you want to have a prep call ahead of time, especially if it's a new investment, answer some of the basic questions. Before taking the meeting with the CEO's time. One thing we found over the last several years is that the role of IR has really been enhanced, especially over the pandemic period, because I think people have really realized how much information the IR team has and what they can share.
And they also have the ability. Ability to say, Hey, I don't have the answer to that question right now, but I can do some research on it. And that really helps the investors process, in terms of understanding the company, understanding if there's something that they really want to dig into. So having that dialogue and you can either have it directly
with the investor, you can have it through your sell side partner, people have different ways of wanting to work. And I think, at the end of the day, we all want to make sure that there's good communication. So if we can facilitate that on the sell side, great. If company goes, talks directly to the IR in preparation for a meeting, that's great too.
You know, we're happy to facilitate that.
Mark Fasken: Awesome. All right. This has been super helpful. Really, really appreciate the time, thank you.
Mary Turnbull: Great. Thank you. I really appreciate it.
Winning IR is a podcast exploring the diverse insights within the investor relations community. Join host Mark Fasken as he discusses the winning strategies, tactics, and shifts in thinking with innovative investor relations professionals who are redefining the profession.
Each episode features a different challenge, innovation, or perspective on the ever-evolving role of IR, giving you real, actionable insight you’ll be able to use to build a better investor relations program.