Meeting Notes

Perspectives on Investor Communications - results of Rivel Research study

Approximately 30 members of the Cincinnati Tri State NIRI Chapter and guests gathered Dec. 7 for a holiday meeting at the Grand Finale in Glendale. After a brief business update, Keith Bossey, senior vice president of Rivel Research Group, presented findings from a study on investor relations challenges, priorities and actions.

Bossey took the group through a frank assessment of the practice and perception of investor relations in 2005. He explained that Rivel interviewed 242 senior investor relations officers at S&P 1500 companies, asking them about their duties, their board relationships, their priorities, their challenges and the way they and their bosses measure their success. Among some of the findings:

  • Regulatory issues are the highest priority for IROs, with 95 percent of respondents citing Reg FD compliance as the top priority. Sell-side relations received the next highest ranking.

  • Relatively few IROs attend board meetings, and fewer still present to the board.

  • Communications are generally reactive - driven by the reporting cycle and regulatory environment - rather than proactive (i.e., marketing-related).

  • Disclosure remains the biggest challenge for IROs.

  • Measurement of the success of an IR program often is not as strategic as it could be.

  • Management, in many cases, does not understand or appreciate what the IRO does.

Bossey said Rivel concluded from the interviews and analysis that investor relations remains a "spectator sport." Bossey noted several obstacles to near-term improvement, including disclosure anxiety, the defensive nature of investor communications, and less discretion to provide non-material information that adds to the mosaic of information that investors want. Still, however, there is both hope and opportunity.

Bossey said the investor relations officer should be a strategic adviser to management. To get there, he offered this advice:

  • Prove the value of investor relations

  • Be the expert

  • Ensure compliance

  • Help management see how strategic decisions affect street perspective

  • Help management achieve transparency

  • Work to achieve message clarity, and align IR messages with PR messages

  • Work to establish and sustain management credibility

  • Set goals, articulate them and meet them

  • Be honest and forthcoming

Information on the Rivel Research Group can be found at www.rivel.com.

The next meeting of the Cincinnati Tri State NIRI chapter will be Jan. 11. Details will be provided soon.