How Technology Is Impacting the Investor Relations Role
Roundtable of IR leaders discuss tech’s transformative role in the industry.
24 May 2021
SS&C Intralinks recently joined a conversation of investor relations (IR) professionals who gathered to discuss technology’s evolving role in communicating with investors. During the discussion, the participants shared their experiences against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and illustrated the role tech has played over the past year.
The challenges forced many involved in alternative investments to quickly adopt or scurry to improve tech stacks, whether it was to effectively communicate with investors, respond to requests for information, onboard new investors during a fundraising round, conduct virtual due diligence, access and safely sharing sensitive data, right down to hosting virtual meetings.
While some firms already had the necessary tools in place, a challenge some general partners (GPs) faced was getting tech-shy limited partners (LPs) to engage with new technology solutions. In some instances, the path to digital transformation has been a steep learning curve.
Leveraging digital tools to communicate
Many acknowledged how the nature of interactions with investors has changed so dramatically. Engaging in informal chats over lunch, coffee or at networking events has given way to scheduled interactions with predetermined agendas. The health crisis caused many IR teams to pivot to producing virtual content such as webinars, presentations and management briefings, all aimed at providing meaningful contact between parties. The executives in attendance agreed that having a consistent online presence to engage with investors is now crucial going forward.
Interestingly, some observed that work-from-home did not necessarily lead to it being easier to get hold of investors. Some of the IR execs on the call noted that in some instances it has been hard to pin investors down for one-on-one conversations. This could be due to the abundance of virtual meetings on everyone’s professional and personal calendars.
Turning their attention to some of the practical challenges at hand, panelists were keen to discuss virtual annual general meetings (AGMs). The lingering sense of uncertainty, not knowing who can and is willing to travel, challenges of hosting hybrid events, finding suitable venues that can flex up and down concerning the number of attendees were mentioned as some of the questions that need to be answered to run an effective AGM.
The panelists agreed that while technology has allowed them to interact with investors thoughtfully and successfully throughout the pandemic, the drastic reduction of personal contact remains a challenge.
Wrapping up the session, the speakers concluded that technology had made investor relations easier, but that the need for in-person interaction will always be there. They recognized that we find ourselves in a fluid situation and how we work, live and interact with each other is constantly changing. To succeed, IR teams need to be nimble, innovative and in constant contact with investors.