28 October 2021


BEN REBBECK, Founding Director

Why you need to understand perceptions of your company

The substantial resources, including staffing, technology, printing, advisers and senior management time that most companies devote to investor relations are unfortunately not unlimited. It’s therefore crucial that these scarce resources are utilised as efficiently as possible with the best IR outcomes for the company. Goal setting, strategy formulation and results measurement are fundamental to ensuring the effectiveness of the IR program.

One of the best ways to understand whether your story is being heard, understood and valued by investors is through perception research – a powerful tool for supercharging your investor relations effort.

What is perception research?

The best form of perception research is a comprehensive assessment of how your company is perceived by institutional investors and broking analysts, offshore and domestically, involving interviews conducted over a 1-3 week period in a structured format.

However, it can also be a lot simpler and less formal. For example, straw poll feedback following a major investor relations event can provide rapid and useful insights on how the event was received and if the message got through.

Five reasons every company should undertake perception research

  1. Get honest feedback, as outsiders see the company and appreciate how it stacks up against peers and the wider market.
  2. Identify issues in market perceptions and address them before they become a major problem for the way your company is valued.
  3. Refine messages and disclosure to ensure the story is being heard, understood and the assets appropriately valued.
  4. Direct your market engagement activities to ensure maximum return on effort from roadshows and meetings.
  5. Measure the effectiveness of your IR program, refine your goals and strategy to maximise the impact on shareholder value.

Five questions a perception report can answer

  1. Is your corporate strategy understood and considered appropriate?
  2. What does the market see as your operational strengths and weaknesses?
  3. How effective are your presentations and reports?
  4. What are the hot button issues and performance expectations?
  5. How are you perceived relative to peers?

Five essential ingredients for top quality perception research

Not all perception research was created equal. The right interviewer needs to ask the right questions to the right people. And you need to be prepared to listen.

  1. Perception research should be undertaken by an unbiased, independent third party. Effective perception research should cut through the ‘sugar coated’ interactions many CEOs and CFOs have with investors and brokers, which are good for building relationships but don’t always provide the feedback leaders really need or want to hear.
  2. Perception research should gather both quantitative and qualitative feedback. Quantitative ratings scales can be really useful for measuring certain aspects and illustrating data graphically but it will miss the granular detail and nuance that qualitative information provides.
  3. Perception research should seek as broad a view of the company as possible, with feedback gathered through interviews of current and past investors (domestic and international), broking analysts and other key opinion influencers, which, may include equities sales traders, media and market commentators.
  4. The interviewer needs to know the story, understand the company and be able to speak the language of the market to ensure respondents are fully engaged in the process and their feedback is heard, understood and appropriately reflected in the perception report.
  5. The tough questions need to be asked and you need to be prepared to hear the answers you may not want to hear. To receive full benefit from the process you need to be open to honest feedback that may challenge the way you see your company.
30 September 2021

Virtual AGMs

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor Talking the talk at virtual AGMs As AGM season looms large, the Australian Federal Government has given clarity around what will be required to hold a virtual Annual General Meeting during the latter part of 2021. A key change, compared to the COVID-19 inspired temporary arrangements introduced in 2020, […]

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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 June 2021

The IPO Market in 2021

ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations The IPO market in 2020 sprang into life in October, having retreated into hibernation with the advent of COVID. The rush to list turned into a stampede as the year drew to a close with December registering a record listing in one month of 29 companies. This included large and high […]

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31 May 2021

All you need to know about Short Selling

SALONI SURI, Investor Relations Executive. Overview Short selling is a simple concept—an investor borrows a stock, sells the stock, and then buys the stock back to return it to the lender. In the period between selling borrowed stock and buying it back the investor is said to be ‘Short’ of stock, hence the term short […]

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30 March 2021

Who’s really on your register?

IDENTIFYING THE BENEFICIAL OWNERS OF SHARES   ROWAN CLARKE, INVESTOR RELATIONS The ability to interrogate a company’s share register to identify its beneficial owners provides important information to Directors. In addition to identifying who is making decisions to buy and sell shares, it enables the Board and senior management to identify such things as where […]

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31 January 2021

The IPO Market in 2020 – the Final Scorecard

VICTORIA GEDDES, Founding Director In September 2020 the door to the IPO market flew open and dozens of companies poured through in a rush to list before the Christmas/New Year shut down. Memories were still fresh from late 2019 when a promising IPO market was stopped dead in tracks in October as several high profile […]

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30 October 2020

ESG Reporting among the ASX300

DAN JONES, Manager Shareholder Analytics As institutional investors increasingly demand more accountability for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance, companies face pressure to improve their standards of ESG reporting. However, unlike financial data, ESG information has no legislated or regulatory reporting guidelines or formats so the mechanism for delivery and any adoption of a reporting […]

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28 September 2020


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. As the market braces for an avalanche of IPOs to hit the market in the December quarter, it is time to review our playbook for IPO investor relations, to highlight just what it takes to maximise the chances of a successful life after listing. Here are our top 10 Investor Relations tips […]

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30 October 2019

ASX tightens listing rules

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor “It’s important that ASX keeps evolving the listing rules so they remain contemporary, address emerging compliance issues, and continue to serve the interests of issuers, investors, and the Australian economy.” Kevin Lewis, ASX Chief Compliance Officer. A range of changes to the ASX listing rules will come into […]

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29 June 2019

Is 2019 ‘The Year of the ESG Fund’?

BEN REBBECK, Executive Director The ascendency of ESG matters within Fund managers, Board rooms and with IROs has unquestionably been rising rapidly in recent years. In this context, a question we often address from Directors and IRO is: Are ESG funds just another short term market trend, like ‘Hedge Funds’ were some 5 to 10 years […]

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1 May 2019

The importance of good design

GOOD DESIGN is the difference between telling someone and showing them. It can be the difference between informing your audience or convincing them. A carefully composed image, an effectively executed graphic concept or a thoughtfully constructed layout can convert worthy content into memorable messages. We sat down with Campbell van Venrooy, a graphic designer with […]

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1 May 2019

The Do’s and Don’ts of Investor Days (Part 2)

VICTORIA GEDDES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Following on from Part 1, published in our April 2019 Newsletter, this second part of the overview of Investor Days looks closely at what the audience wants to hear i.e. the content most commonly covered and how to put together an effective presentation. What your audience wants to know Bearing in […]

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29 March 2019

Feb 2019 Guidance Review

DAN JONES, MANAGER SHAREHOLDER ANALYTICS During February we monitored companies in the S&P/ASX300 Index that reported for the period ending 31 December 2018, building a picture of the approach to guidance in this market and what that guidance is telling us about outlook for FY19. Around three quarters of companies within the S&P/ASX 300 index […]

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28 March 2019

The Do’s and Don’ts of Investor Days (Part 1)

VICTORIA GEDDES, ECECUTIVE DIRECTOR With reporting season behind us for another six months and post results roadshows underway or coming to a close, companies will soon be approaching one of the few windows available in the annual investor relations calendar to focus on planning and managing an investor day. These are not spontaneous events and […]

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31 January 2019

February reporting preview

We entered the last reporting season in August 2018 with a high degree of optimism. That optimism was very short-lived as markets experienced a sharp sell-off in August, with actual results falling short of previous forecasts. Subsequently, news headlines have kept investors in a pessimistic mood, examples being the ongoing Brexit uncertainty and the ever-present […]

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31 January 2019

Timing Matters When Releasing Results

It is important for a company to select an appropriate day when presenting its financial results.  With so many companies competing for attention from buy-side, sell-side and financial media, the correct timing of a result can be very important, especially for smaller companies. Understanding where the peaks and troughs are during a reporting season can help […]

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1 November 2018

Has Activism Peaked or is it regrouping

Victoria Geddes, Executive Director Activism in Australia has some characteristics that are different to other countries around the world. We examine the make-up of activist campaigns in Australia compared to the global average and unpick some of the recent trends to see if there is a pattern emerging. This article is an extract from a paper […]

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5 April 2018

Engaging Retail investors – work smarter not harder

It is generally accepted, at least in the Australian equity market, that Retail Investors play an important role in the construction of a balanced shareholder register. The characteristics that make them attractive are that they generally invest for the long term, are volatility averse and focus on a company’s fundamentals. However these traits can also […]

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5 April 2018

Short Attacks: Is Glaucus an Aberration or the new Normal?

VICTORIA GEDDES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Two years ago we wrote an article on a well-established activist strategy in the US called the “short attack”. In Australia we are very familiar with short selling as a legitimate tactic to deliver portfolio performance but short or bear attacks are something else altogether. Equity markets and investors received their […]

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28 February 2018

Doing it on Purpose

Giles Rafferty, Corporate Communications Doing it on Purpose Having a Corporate Purpose must be one of the oldest, latest things. There is good degree of noise around the concept of ‘Corporate Purpose’ and it may feel like it has become a buzz word, but it is much more than that and always has been. A […]

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8 December 2017

FIRST Advisers at AIRA 2017 Annual Conference & Best Practice Investor Relations Awards

FIRST Advisers was an event sponsor at the AIRA 2017 Annual Conference and Best Practice IR Awards held in Sydney in late November. FIRST Advisers contribution included moderating a Crisis management panel discussion on managing breaches to cybersecurity and sponsoring the Award for Best Investor Relations by a Company in the ASX “Mid-cap 100”. Opening […]

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6 November 2017

A Powerful Tool for Supercharging your Investor Relations Effort

David Whittaker, Senior Investor Relations Adviser Why you need to understand perceptions of your company The substantial resources, including staffing, technology, printing, advisers and senior management time that most companies devote to investor relations are unfortunately not unlimited. It’s therefore crucial that these scarce resources are utilised as efficiently as possible with the best IR […]

Read More
1 August 2017

The Annual Report and the importance of storytelling

Philippa Ellis, Governance & Investor Relations “Stories are the most powerful communication tool we have bar none” according to Andy Goodman of The Goodman Centre. We all carry stories in our heads (pre-conceptions) that strongly influence the way we view the world. These stories cause our mind to be closed to alternative viewpoints even when […]

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9 June 2017

What content should I have on my IR Website?

NIRI Annual Conference 2017 Ben Rebbeck, Executive Director At FIRST Advisers we are often asked to assess the content of our clients’ Investor Relations websites for the appropriateness of its content and structure and assist them implement or rebuild their IR websites. The overriding imperative is to ensure the IR website meets the information needs of […]

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8 June 2017

Challenge the “Fitness” of your Investor Relations Plan

Philippa Ellis, Governance & Investor Relations People spend an enormous amount of time and money developing new health and fitness plans to reach their fitness and wellbeing goals each year. Applying similar techniques to your annual Investor Relations (IR) plan will keep you energised and focused on achieving successful outcomes. Establish Achievable Goals You may not […]

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9 May 2017

When to Publish the Annual Report – A New Benchmark is Emerging

VICTORIA GEDDES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Ten years ago I can remember marvelling at those companies that managed to get it together and release their full, glossy annual report on the same day as reporting their full year results. You could count them on the fingers of one hand. More commonly, three to four months after the […]

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9 May 2017

Perception Studies – An Early Indicator of Emerging Issues

VICTORIA GEDDES, ECECUTIVE DIRECTOR Getting feedback from investors and other key stakeholders is a given within the investor relations profession. Many companies will do this informally following a roadshow and some will undertake a more formal engagement process, including the Chairman, ahead of the AGM. So a view often expressed by companies is that their […]

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16 December 2016


VICTORIA GEDDES, ECECUTIVE DIRECTOR The various high profile successes and failures of new listings since the IPO window re-opened in mid 2013 is salutary reminder that there is no such thing as a safe bet when it comes to investing in the equity market. As we look ahead to 2017, there is already a crowded […]

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3 November 2016

Why Aligning your Corporate and IR Strategies Matters

VICTORIA GEDDES, ECECUTIVE DIRECTOR Nov 3, 2016 The starting point in the development of a company’s IR strategy is to understand the Corporate Strategy. Closely allied to this is an audit, for wont of a better word, of how this strategy is talked about within the company and communicated to external stakeholders. It is surprisingly […]

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3 November 2016

The Activist – Pariah or Positive Catalyst for Change?

VICTORIA GEDDES, ECECUTIVE DIRECTOR The role played by the activist in the US capital markets has moved over the past 10-15 years from pariah to one of being a positive catalyst for change. Today proxy contests associated with nominations of independent directors for board seats are more likely to be won by activists than the […]

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6 October 2016

Reconsidering the retail investor

PHIL MACKINTOSH and JONATHAN MAIRS, IR MAGAZINE Amid the continuing shift in assets to quant funds and passive ETFs, retail investors are a worthwhile target. Oct 6, 2016 At a glance  Steady players  Amid the shift from active to passive management, and from bottom-up to quant investing, retail investors stand out as a substantial group […]

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5 August 2016

What the buyside wants – lessons in investor targeting

VICTORIA GEDDES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Aug 5, 2016 Results season has kicked off. While some companies are already out of the blocks, most are well into planning mode with ASX releases being drafted, presentations put together, Q&As assembled and the investor roadshow organised. For management teams it is often a gruelling process, but spare a thought […]

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5 August 2016

Results should craft a convincing story

DAVID WHITTAKER, SENIOR INVESTOR RELATIONS ADVISER A recent survey presented at the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) conference in San Diego in June highlighted how giving investors useful qualitative information when presenting your company’s financial results can make all the difference to how well the numbers are received. The institutional investors surveyed by Edelman emphasised […]

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5 July 2016

Surviving Brexit: Disclosure and guidance in uncertain times

Ben Rebbeck, Executive Director If there is one consistent thing the financial markets are saying about Brexit, it’s that there are uncertain times ahead for every major economy – and by extension, for the prospects and financial performance of every major company. When uncertainty reigns, we often hear management or Boards describe disclosure and guidance […]

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5 July 2016

Short Attacks: The new wolf pack

VICTORIA GEDDES, ECECUTIVE DIRECTOR Those who have been on the receiving end of a short attack describe the process as akin to being at war, or being pursued by a pack of wolves, with the company’s very destruction their opponent’s goal. A short or bear attack, to make the distinction clear, is not the same […]

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2 June 2016

Activist Investing Comes of Age

VICTORIA GEDDES, ECECUTIVE DIRECTOR In the past 5 years, post-GFC in particular, the activist investor has become firmly established as a recognised investor category within the funds management universe. Companies are starting to build into their investor relations strategy protocols that quickly elevate early signs of shareholder discontent up to the board. Politely acknowledging, but […]

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1 June 2016

FIRST Advisers in Listed@ASX Magazine

FIRST Advisers is featured this month in the Listed@ASX magazine. Our executive director Victoria Geddes writes on the rise of activist investors in Australia, the tactics they use, and what listed companies need to know. Click here to see a PDF of the article.  

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1 June 2016

ASX to lift the hurdles for listing

Ben Rebbeck, Executive Director The ASX has recently launched a consultation process ahead of proposed changes to the requirements for companies to list on the ASX market.  If implemented, the changes will raise the financial and shareholder spread hurdles for all companies seeking to list, whether by IPO or ‘back-door’ listing. According to the ASX, […]

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27 May 2016

Follow FIRST Advisers at the World’s Premier Investor Relations Conference

FIRST Advisers will be in San Diego next month at the premier global conference for investor relations professionals, staged by the US National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI). We will be posting live updates from our Twitter account and filing a post conference wrap up on this blog. The NIRI conference often provides a leading indicator for […]

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22 June 2015

The Right – and Wrong – Way to Target Investors

Ron Cameron, Senior Adviser, Investor Relations Public companies seeking to court new investors and build relations with existing ones will almost always be told by some register analysis providers that they should focus on targeting those investors with underweight or overweight positions in their stock, relative to a particular index. In other words, it’s those […]

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18 May 2015

Guidance to go out of fashion?

The new ASX guidelines may discourage companies from making earnings predictions public The proposed changes to the guidelines for listed companies on their continuous disclosure obligations (ASX Guidance Note 8) will provide greater clarity and a more pragmatic approach for companies that find themselves facing a sudden change in their profit expectations and want to […]

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18 February 2015

ASIC Revisits Guidelines on Collective Action by Investors

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is revisiting its guidelines around collective action by institutional investors and calling for public comment. This has become a hotter topic in the past few years with the increasing assertiveness of activist shareholders and recognition that collective action by investors can be good for financial markets.

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17 December 2014

The Value of Proactive PR

Outside major announcements like profit results or product launches, many companies find it hard to keep the media interested in what they are doing, especially with the attention span of the traditional media narrowing as journalist numbers fall and publication sizes shrink. It’s true that most companies don’t have significant announcements to make week-to-week or […]

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2 December 2014

7 tips for Soliciting Shareholder Vote

In an age when the interactions between listed companies and their shareholders are increasingly automated and carried out electronically, the relatively low tech practice of soliciting votes still has a decisive role to play when companies need to win support from investors. The two strike rule at annual general meetings, increasingly bold activist investors and […]

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