Maintaining a regular dialogue with the buy side is critical, and we recommend being proactive in your marketing. We are often asked for advice on where and how corporates should market, which is a bit like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’ – because it depends on who you are, what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. We can offer some pointers, however.
- On the whole, we would recommend corporates hold roadshows in their home market/country on a quarterly basis, and in major markets such as London, New York and Boston at least twice a year (provided these are not your home markets). For Asian corporates, we recommend two offshore roadshows per year to Europe and the US. There are many corporates jostling for investor attention – you only need to visit Fidelity’s reception area in Boston to see this.
- A corporate decision maker, like the CEO or CFO, is always highly valued by the buy side, and will generally secure you a key decision maker in a meeting; it’s just a fine balance between a CEO pushing the stock price up by working or by marketing. We recommend sending the C-level executives to the major financial centres and handling smaller centres yourself. There is one important exception to this: if one of your top shareholders is in a remote location, it is always worth sending out the top brass.
- It can be especially difficult to get senior management of large caps on the road, but this is where the real value-add is. Shareholders and targets really appreciate it because this is generally where their large exposure is.
- We recommend a balance between conferences and roadshows. The baseline should be roadshows, but conferences can be an efficient way to meet new clients and update existing holders. Start the year with a plan of the major sector and country conferences to go to. If your CEO can get a speaking slot at a major conference, it may be worth his/her time to participate. For investor relations, it never hurts to accept the invitation and keep a constant dialogue going with the buy side. For small caps, participating in more conferences is very important from a profile perspective. After all, the buy side can decline a meeting with you, but you’re on its radar.
- Be prepared for tough questions and be up-front with investors and prospects in your presentation. It’s always better to address the elephant in the room than wait for an investor to bring it up. Brief your management team on potential issues and questions. Finally, keep your presentation materials on the concise side: aside from saving the planet, it will help you focus an analyst’s attention on the important issues.
Alex Lupis is director and head of corporate access for Asia-Pacific at HSBC.