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 investors and provides information in a manner most relevant to them. And critically, any changes to content and structure should be based on evidence, rather than merely a well-intended, but uninformed, view or ambition to make a website look pretty.
At the NIRI Conference in Orlando this week, the latest research in the field was presented to delegates which included some interesting outcomes. In this article, we have outlined the three key findings from this research which can provide the basis for any IR website changes.
Step 1: Identify the Audiences
Self-evidently, every company has not one investor audience, but numerous, each with their own information needs. Consequently, the first step in any review is ensure you have an accurate understanding of both your existing shareholder base – through such analysis as FIRST Advisers’ AccessIR beneficial ownership report, and the type of investors you seek to target via your IR programme.
A useful approach to categorising investors is to place them in three buckets:
- Professional investors or analysts who already know/own you
- Professional investors or analysts who don’t know/own you
- Retail and high net worth investors
Step 2: Identify their individual needs
Research presented by Bowen, Craggs & Co at the USA’s National Investor Relations Institute annual conference in June 2017, and based on a detailed analysis of the websites of the 200 biggest companies globally discovered notable observations about each of these three investor groups, as follows:
- Analysts who know your company are looking for information they cannot more easily find on their proprietary systems, particularly historical data (for building models) and webcasts, in case they missed a meeting or conference call.
- Researching analysts want easy access to your annual report; strategy briefings; IR contact information; and an extensive archive of results presentations.
- Retail and High Net Worth investors, while small in their own right, generally look at all the information that researching analysts seek – as they rarely have access to professional information services; good quality FAQs that simplify a company’s business, performance and investment thesis, and visibly easy access to information about how to manage their shareholdings.
Step 3: Meet their collective needs
Research has also indicated that all investors have common elements that they need or frustrate them.
Common elements investors need include:
- Site structure and navigation should be conventional – all investors look for information in the same place they are used to finding it elsewhere – therefore don’t re-invent the wheel!
- Investors like a standardised approach to financial data. If your company prefers to present ‘normalised’ or ‘pro-forma’ financial information, include an easily understandable reconciliation back to your statutory accounts.
- There is little interest by any investor in bespoke Mobile Apps. No one wants to crowd their phone with dozens of apps for each investment in their portfolio. However, do make sure your site is mobile compatible.
- Archives of results materials should be clearly signposted, aggregated, comprehensive and deep. This is where employing the talents of a good designer can make the difference between an effective information archive and a dog’s breakfast.
Notably, Bowen, Craggs & Co’s research discovered that there is little desire from any investor class for flashy or HTML driven annual reports. While there are a tremendous and growing number of services that can make annual reports look fantastic, it is notable that the investment and information outcomes of having a PDF annual report vs an interactive annual report are presently negligible. However, we strongly note as individuals shift their online behaviour towards mobile rather than desktop browsing, this may change.
Meeting investors’ collective needs can save you a lot time, effort and money. It is the content and how that is organised that visitors to your website most value, so engage with website designers that specialise in IR and can make the online experience productive, easy to navigate and your website a joy to visit.