“Fear grows in darkness; if you think there’s a bogeyman around, turn on the light.”
The late journalist Dorothy Thompson may not have directed these words at corporate management, but the sentiment applies all the same.
Turning on the light and finding out how others really see your business can be a scary prospect. Staying in the dark and not knowing, however, can be costly for companies reliant on capital markets.
According to a report by Moody’s Investors Service earlier this year, passive investments account for 28.5% of assets under management in the U.S., a figure expected to exceed 50% in the next four to seven years.
What’s the driving force behind this passive investing trend? Passive funds – including ETFs, index funds, and quant funds – often have lower fees and superior performance over many actively managed, and more expensive, mutual funds. Passive investments may track indexes, such as the S&P 500, or be driven by computer-based models.
When it comes to dealing with investors and analysts, what you say can be every bit as important as what you do.
Effective communication can burnish your company’s image and help drive interest in your shares. Conversely, ineffective communication can undermine your reputation and distort even the strongest of investment stories.
To improve the likelihood that you’ll get your communication with investors and analysts right, let’s review some proven do’s and don’ts.
Investor relations professionals have a tough job – but the life sciences industry presents some unique challenges: a strict regulatory environment, the politics surrounding healthcare reform, long product development timelines, and large investments in research and development. Implementing an IR program against that backdrop is daunting.
Yet that’s not all. The job of an IR officer in a life sciences company is uniquely complex, multifaceted, and demanding.
In investor relations, credibility is everything. When your authority is damaged, everything you tell the Street will be filtered through the jaded minds of professional skeptics who remember your past failure to deliver, or a time they felt misdirected. That’s why it’s vital to maintain a constant focus on sustaining and growing your level of trust with investors.
Warren Buffet makes news each year for his letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. By employing his uniquely wry and contrarian style and by covering many topics that have little direct bearing on Berkshire’s results or prospects, Buffet has taken one of the staple obligations of a public company CEO, and turned it into something much larger — a kind of State of the Union from the desk of one of our most important business leaders.
It’s impressive. And as you get ready to release your own annual letter, you may be tempted to take a page from the Buffett playbook and offer your shareholders a bit of your own wit and wisdom.
For publicly traded companies, successfully communicating information to shareholders and the public depends on the efforts of all employees. That’s why they need a written public disclosure policy that assigns responsibility for the collection and assessment of information, and specifies who will communicate that information and when.
A disclosure policy will help ensure that information is disseminated promptly, credibly, and in compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, including the SEC’s Regulation Fair Disclosure (Reg FD). Reg FD will guide many of your disclosure practices.
For public healthcare companies and those on the road to an initial public offering (IPO), crafting an effective investor relations (IR) program is essential, and can significantly enhance the investment appeal of your company. Whether your company’s investor relations efforts are new – say, the result of going public – or just in need of a fresh perspective (let’s call it a “reset”), it’s important to keep in mind a few core elements as you plan.