Show Notes

There’s an inspirational community of professionals working in investor relations, but so few opportunities to learn from our peers and hear about their stories, their challenges, and their triumphs. 

Investor relations has changed drastically since the coining of the term by General Electric in 1953. Today’s IROs need to foster deep relationships with the investment community, act as strategic advisors to the management team, become experts in ESG and corporate governance, all while providing quality, transparent and credible information to investors. There's tremendous insight to be gained from IR professionals who have weathered the changes of the industry, the up-and-coming IR innovators, and the many leaders within the broader capital markets community

Winning IR is an investor relations podcast designed to showcase the transformation of the IR profession, and profile the leading experts who are leading the change. Join Irwin COO Mark Fasken as he meets with IR professionals to learn more about the real impacts and advances being made by investor relations professionals in an increasingly sophisticated capital markets environment. 

Each episode this season will focus on a different challenge, innovation or perspective on the ever-evolving role of IR, giving you real actionable insight that you'll be able to use to build a better investor relations program. This season we’ll talk to a range of guests about their experience and best advice, giving you insights into topics like ESG, activism, earnings calls, creative storytelling,building your IR program and much more

Winning IR is produced by Irwin, a leading provider of investor relations software. Irwin is built on the belief that investor relations is a critical strategic component of a company's success. Companies deserve a platform that unlocks critical strategic insight, automates manual and time-consuming tasks, and consistently innovates alongside the ever-evolving role of the IR team. At Irwin, we believe that with better investor relations, companies can have more time to focus on their products, services and employees to drive true innovation. And so this podcast came to be, we want to elevate the voices on the frontlines of IR—the innovators, and the game changers. 

About Our Guest

Host Mark Fasken introduces the new Winning IR Podcast, an exploration of diverse insights from the investor relations community.

Episode Transcript

When you talk to anyone who has spent years in IR the sentiment remains the same: Investor Relations has changed and continues to change every day. 

From the coining of the term by General Electric in 1953 to the rise in the importance of IR post-Enron, the profession has transformed from one-way communication with investors into deepened relationships with the investment community, being a strategic adviser to the management team, becoming an ESG expert, corporate governance and providing quality, transparent, and credible information to investors. IROs are being asked to do more than ever before. 

On top of this IROs are expected to be experts in strategy, finance, and economics and possess strong organizational, social, and communication skills. There's tremendous insight to be gained from IROs who have weathered the changes of the profession, up-and-coming innovators and the many leaders within the broader capital markets community. 

At Irwin, we believe with better investor relations, companies can have more time to focus on their products, services and employees to drive true innovation. And so this podcast came to be, we want to elevate the voices on the frontlines, the innovators, the game changers. 

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 and thinking that are redefining the profession. 

Each episode this season will focus on a different challenge, innovation or perspective on the ever-evolving role of IR, giving you real actionable insight that you'll be able to use to build a better investor relations program. This season we’ll talk to a range of guests about their experience and best advice, giving you insights into topics like ESG, activism, earnings calls, creative storytelling, building your IR program and much, much more.

nd so the first question that we have is,how do I improve our current ESG? Ratings?

Sivrais  

Yeah, hey, it's great to do this with you, Mark.

You know, I would say just to give him a primer for some of the questions that we pulled together, they come in many forms or fashion. And they come in various hierarchies in terms of what the most important are, but the way that we think about the way that we pulled together, these questions are really the ones that have the highest velocity of being asked. And so there's other areas that go into it.

But if you start to kind of look athow do I improve our ESG ratings, again, we will really look at it from a very pragmatic point of view. And it's really kind of understanding the most heavily weighted factors across the rating agencies, not one Sustainalytics or MSCI, or ISS, or Refinitiv, but it's really looking holistically across those rating agencies. And so what we will do and what our clients will do in some form, or fashion, and we'll jump in and in different ways is look at the most material factors or key issues that are impacting those scores, to really evaluate kind of what is holding those scores back. Or, alternatively, kind of where's the low hanging fruit, that if it's just a matter of not disclosing it, that you're not getting credit for trying to make sure we get some of those basic policies out there. That exists today. So if you look at that, once you do that kind of what we call a key factor analysis across the rating agencies, quickly, it will bubble up to the top 10-15 factors that could, in theory, enhance your score. Now you have to understand once you get those factors, whether or not you're doing some of the things and have some better exposures, but from a very basic standpoint, you are sometimes just not getting credit for him because you have not put them somewhere that can be that can be publicly scraped. And that's the reason why you're not getting credit for it. So anti-slavery policies, things along those lines, that of course, you have a policy internally, but you're not getting credit for it externally. Because it's not on your website. It's not in real time, okay? It's not somewhere where it can be publicly scraped.

So we take those key factors and look at it in three different buckets, near term priorities: easy, quick wins that we can put on there. Midterm priorities, things that you are doing, but are fully developed quite yet. And you kind of have to figure out what the policy is going to be. And then longer term priorities that may take change to actually have a policy that you can you can disclose publicly.

Fasken  

Awesome. So correct me if I'm wrong, just start breaking that down into some steps;

  • It's understanding, what are the key factors that are making up the scores?
  • Looking at where some of the areas that maybe you're falling short?
  • And then sort of stack ranking them in terms of, I would say, like level of difficulty. But also, to your point, determining are there things that we have a low rating on? Because we actually just haven't published our policies?

Sivrais  

Yeah, exactly.

So like, the reason that this process came to fruition four and a half, five years ago, when we started doing this work is because most of our clients were coming to us and saying, " there are so many rating agencies, there are so many frameworks. There are so many investors asking different things. I don't have anything out there, where do I start?" And so our idea was, "oh, and by the way, I have no budget and no team to help me do this. So where do I start on my ESG journey?" And it really this is how our key factor analysis was born.

Like let's start with the rating agencies. So that is what could potentially impact the allocation of capital by institutional investors. So let's start there.

And then let's look across the commonality of those rating agencies. Oftentimes, they're there. Well, most of the time, they're driven by a relative scoring model within your industry. And so there are specific factors that are going to impact you based on whatever industry that you're sitting in.

And then there's commonality, not always, but a lot of times across all the rating agencies. So that lets us boil down to okay, you have X dollars of resources to commit to doing this you have X amount of time to commit to doing this, here is how you rank factor the work that you can do to start on that journey.

Now, that is how to start it. There is, very generally speaking, most of our clients do that annually, because it will change because again, because it's a relative scoring model, oftentimes, it will change year to year. So we'll run that key factor analysis each year with our clients to make sure that we are course correcting our ESG disclosures to make sure we're we're maximizing our scores in general, it's not all that different than when you're just talking about an investment thesis that you'd have to course correct when you're talking to your investing community. And it changes from, you know, quarter to quarter or year to year.

Fasken  

But I imagine that some of the ratings agencies, they would also change the rating framework over the years too, right. So you've got to always be revisiting it making sure that it's accurate.

Sivrais  

Yeah, ISS  seems to have done that a lot in the last probably 18 months, same with MSCI.

Fasken  

Yeah. They're just trying to keep things interesting, right? Yeah. And so question two is:we receive a lot of requests to fill out questionnaires, which should we focus on?

Sivrais

Yeah. So I mean, this is, this is a big question.

Generally speaking, today, CDP is probably the most widely used from an environmental data platform, with about 19,000 companies responding to the request to complete the CDP questionnaire should be prioritized, since failure to actually comply with it can lead to a score of an F. So start there, if you don't do it, you start with an F. So that's tends to be what's getting prioritized the most.

The other the questionnaire that we're getting, and this is really around supply chain, is EcoVadis. So I think a great example is GM has laid down a mandate to its suppliers that you have to have a certain score to be able to be a supplier to GM. So EcoVadis is really kind of the scoring system, and the questionnaire that you have to fill out to be rated in a certain way that you are you are ramping up from a supplier standpoint. So like that goes beyond kind of the scope of probably this conversation of public versus private. If you're a private company, and you have a public company, customer that we're going to be asking you to do that. So we generally say CDP EcoVadis, probably the two that you should be filling out.

Fasken  

Okay, great. Question three, I feel like it's a big topic isHow do I get my company on board [with ESG]? How do I get the budget? Right? How do I get to spend the time and pay attention?

Sivrais  

Listen, I think that probably the easiest way is to lay out for them why ESG matters. So like, I'm gonna say what is probably not politically correct. But like to be fair, ESG no longer is kind of trying to save the world. It is trying to mitigate risks, to drive financial performance, to mitigate risk and drive financial performance to things as it relates to the investment community. Now, they may care about saving the world, but a lot o

Follow the Podcast

About Winning IR

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. 

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