30 November 2021

FIRST Edition in 2021

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Adviser.


2021 is drawing to a close with a sense of COVID-19 déjà vu.

In late 2020 a new COVID variant, labelled Delta, was first identified in India. The Delta variant is characterised by mutations to the ‘spike protein’ which make it highly transmissible. The Delta variant is thought to have been partly responsible for India’s deadly second wave of COVID in February 2021 and, later on, Delta contributed to a third wave in Fiji, the United Kingdom and South Africa. By late July, it had also driven an increase in daily infections in parts of Asia, the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Fast forward to late 2021 and a new COVID variant labelled Omicron has emerged out of South Africa. The Omicron variant is characterised by mutations to the ‘spike protein’ and has been classified by the World Health Organisation as a variant of concern. It is far too early for a meaningful analysis of the impact of Omicron, but we are already seeing governments across the globe tightening up COVID restrictions with many countries, including Australia, closing their international borders.

An Olympian effort to glimpse a new normal

In amidst the COVID gloom and doom there have been bright moments, Australia’s Olympians and Para Olympians delivered one of the most successful Olympics ever by Australia’s teams to inspire the nation. There was controversy as Australia abandoned a $9 billion French submarine contract. And alongside the seismic shifts in Australia’s geo-political relationships, in September, there was an actual 5.9 magnitude earthquake in the Mansfield area of north-eastern Victoria.

And while COVID continues to influence all aspects of life its notable impacts in the Investor Relations space include the eery quiet amongst mainstream activist investors throughout 2021 while the IPO market has been running hot all year. Some reports suggest the number of listings by the end of the year could hit close to 250, just shy of the all-time record of 251 in 2007, at the peak of the bull market prior to the GFC (you have been warned!).

Key IR themes during 2021

An analysis of FIRST Advisers newsletter content reveals that while our coverage of the IPO market in articles such as The IPO Market in 2021 generated significant views it was blog posts that focused on effective engagement with shareholders; gaining an understanding of what investors were thinking and the value of expert advice that topped the viewing statistics.

The single most clicked on article in 2021 was Virtual AGMs, which was published last September in the lead up to AGM season. The blog mapped out the key regulatory changes around online virtual AGMs which included a requirement to allow virtual attendees at an AGM to ask a question orally. While timing clearly helped drive views of this article there was also a desire to understand how best to engage with shareholders during COVID.

Our Perception studies to supercharge investor relations article in October took second place for total views. This blog focused on perception research as one the most effective ways to gain an understanding of whether a listed company’s story is being heard, understood and valued by investors.

Expert advice remains highly valued

The third most viewed individual blog post focused on the value of well credentialed advice, backed by deep expertise and experience. It was our celebration in August of FIRST Advisers’ Executive Director, Victoria Geddes, being amongst the inaugural recipients of an Australasian Investor Relations Association (AIRA) Certified Investor Relations Officer (CIRO) designation. Industry accreditation is something we have long supported in order to help companies who are seeking support identify IR firms and individuals who have deep experience in the field and are committed the development of IR as a discipline.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is a clear reminder there remains a great deal of uncertainty around what a new COVID normal could look like. The viewing trends for FIRST Advisers’ newsletters are a good reminder that expert advice that gives rise to valuable industry insights and is backed by a broad set of tools for engaging with investors, adds a lot of value to a company’s IR function. As an integrated IR agency we strive to deliver this to our clients every day and thank them for the trust they place in us to help navigate uncertainty, communicate effectively and, most importantly, build a supportive shareholder base.

31 August 2021

Nailing Your Virtual Events

ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations With most of Australia being plunged back into lockdown, and the August reporting season about to merge into roadshow season, there is no getting away from the fact that virtual briefings and meetings are still the only way to connect with shareholders and investors. So in this blog we explore the […]

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30 April 2021

Proxy Advisors in a time of COVID

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor The Coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, we canvassed the three main Proxy Advisory firms operating in Australia Ownership Matters, CGI Glass Lewis and ISS to get a sense of what impact corporate and government responses to the pandemic has had on governance and their voting recommendations. Widening […]

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30 April 2021

The Convergence of ESG and Activist forces

VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director Activism during COVID A review of the impact of COVID 19 on activism globally in 2020 would suggest that it largely reinforced the trend of slowing activity that has been evident since its peak in 2018. In Australia the number of companies publically subjected to activists’ demands returned to the annual […]

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4 March 2021

The return of Guidance

DAN JONES, MANAGER SHAREHOLDER ANALYTICS In April 2020, we wrote that more than 80% of companies withdrew their FY20 guidance amid uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. During the February 2021 earnings season, we recommenced monitoring the results of S&P/ASX300 companies to establish to what extent the provision of guidance has been re-adopted and how companies are viewing […]

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11 December 2020

2020! A year like no other

2020 was a year filled with extreme and extraordinary events. All of which played out in the context of the extraordinary global health crisis that is the Coronavirus pandemic. A year of extremes Here in Australia we endured bush fire disasters, the death of the Holden car brand and the tragedy of SAS war crimes […]

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30 October 2020

Video with vim and vigour

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor The camera never lies! A broad statement that still holds true despite the incredible advances in software to manipulate digital imagery. The cameras built into smartphones and laptops are amazingly sophisticated but are no guarantee that a video presentation will look good or be engaging. If you don’t […]

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28 September 2020

Compliance update: Capital raising relief extended

This month, ASIC extended its temporary relief for capital raisings aimed to assist listed entities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to raise capital in a quicker and less costly way without undermining investor protection. The temporary measures were due to expire in October 2020. The temporary measures will now expire on 1 January 2021. The […]

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30 July 2020

Assessment of Virtual AGMs — Must try harder!

BEN REBBECK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR As the repercussions of the COVID pandemic started to impact the corporate sector ASIC, the Australian corporate regulator, following advice and prompting from their foreign counterparts, allowed Australian listed companies to hold fully virtual Annual General Meetings. ASIC’s pathway to enable virtual AGMs, as they were the first to admit, was […]

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28 July 2020

Corporate Purpose during the Coronavirus pandemic

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor, writing for the Winter 2020 Issue of Listed@ASX. What does the Coronavirus pandemic and the ‘new normal’, that is expected to emerge in its wake, mean for a Company’s purpose? As the pandemic surges across the globe many senior corporate leaders will, rightly, view the immediate purpose of […]

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29 June 2020

The Tipping Point for ESG is Now (Part Two)

VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. In Part 1 of our article on ESG last month* we looked at the extent to which ESG reporting has gained hold in Australia and whether the strong performance of ESG funds recently might represent a moment in time when investing according to ESG principles becomes mainstream. We introduced the Standard […]

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28 May 2020

The Tipping Point for ESG is Now

VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. The relentless push towards the adoption of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting by companies across the globe appears to be gaining momentum. As entire populations have gone into hibernation in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the topic of greatest interest in the global investment community is […]

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30 March 2020

Guidance in Uncertain Times

VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director Guidance and outlook statements, freshly minted from the February reporting season, are already being consigned to the waste paper basket. This makes sense when every week brings a new development that has the potential to threaten the very survival of many businesses. So what do you say to your shareholders when […]

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