Euronext Corporate Services collaborated with Simon Bennison, Head of Digital Strategy at corporate communications firm Emperor, and inventor relations CRM provider Praexo’s Head of Development, Laurent Lepinay, for a webinar. Representing ECS on the panel was Nicolas Meunier, Head of Advisory and IR Solutions at Euronext Corporate Services.
Hosted by Gabrielle Pescio of Praexo, the panel discussed the impact of digital in financial communications and provided advice on why and how companies can use digital content, design and functionality to further their corporate narrative and present their equity story. The aim of this being, of course, to provide investors with everything they need, and expect, to find online today.
IPO and the journey to going public
Nicolas Meunier stressed the importance of data when companies are developing their narrative, ready to go public. “Data is key in the IPO process from the very beginning of constructing the equity narrative,” he said, insisting that corporates can leverage their data to control the narrative, usually influenced by the banks at this point in the journey.
He identified three main areas in which corporations can utilise data to aid their IPO storytelling:
Analysing market conditions and understanding IPO momentum and using AI to aggregate the noise around the sector to understand sentiment towards it.
Understanding how similar IPOs have performed to benchmark their position against peers.
Investor screening, helping finesse targeting to ensure book-building progresses as it should and the offer speaks to the target audience.
Meunier suggested firms wishing to go public should utilise the available data from asset managers on their positions to ensure their offering aligns with projects in which investors are interested.
Laurent Lepinay discussed the process of companies using data to take control of their story and stopping them having to rely on third parties. This involves:
Finding the right technology to generate exclusive data regarding investors.
Creating a clear process for information gathering and sharing within the company and to relevant third parties.
Deciding how you use that data to qualify the right investors for your IPO
Knowing how to use this information to create a clear and brief equity story that speaks to your target investors.
Simon Bennison talked about how attracting the right investors was related to branding and being seen to be “a good investment”. Trust is a key element of achieving this, and Bennison showed research that suggests an IR website is the most trusted source of information on an organisation in the eyes of investors, even above notable news sites.
He also informed companies going public that using analytics from an IR website was crucial for understanding which content resonates with investors and, therefore, which angles to include in your multifaceted story.
Life as a public company
Once the company goes public, there are more challenges to overcome. Nicolas Meunier stressed the importance of efficient investor relations and targeting. The Shareholder Rights Directive II, (SRD II), has made it easier for issuers to understand who is invested in them and the shareholder identification information they can request helps IR teams tailor their efforts more effectively.
He talked about the importance of using data to hone the process so that you do not waste time on shareholders who have no interest in your company or sector. But companies must dig into the data to ensure it aligns with their story.
Meunier also reminded issuers that their narrative will change depending on market conditions, and these transitions must be handled in a manner that remains consistent with the company’s mission.
Laurent Lepinay agreed that efficiency in investor targeting was key for busy IROs who have many more tasks assigned to them, and this is where using the right tools to extract data is important. He also referred to the need for a digital investor relations strategy.
He shared information that showed using technology increased the amount and quality of feedback IROs received after a conference. In addition, using Natural Language Processing (NLP), companies were able to address knowledge gaps and factor that into refinements to their equity story.
According to Simon Bennison, once you are public, you need to continue to grow your brand. This means not just making claims, but also showing evidence that you are doing what you say you will and living up to your equity story in all your communications.
Today and what’s to come
On what the future of IR looks like, Nicolas Meunier talked about the potential uses for artificial intelligence (AI). He mentioned the importance of an investor customer relationship management (CRM) system and other digital tools to store interactions with investors and keep these records accessible internally for the long term. This also allows you to create a consistent approach to IR in the future.
Laurent Lepinay mentioned how digital tools like voice-to-text solutions and automatic recording can help IROs gain feedback from investors that goes beyond the brief notes they might make if they are required to type or write their answers. Automatic translations are now possible too, helping IROs engage more effectively with international investors.
One of the key outcomes of the webinar is that the future of IR is already in process. A robust digital strategy is essential for facing the challenges of the future and ensuring that your equity story remains consistent and effective.