Livin’ on a prayer for investors

Richard Carpenter, chief executive officer at Bladonmore, sees companies struggling with the right fit for Investor Days in the wake of the pandemic

You know that things have reached a strange point when the peak of your investor day is welcoming Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora onto stage to perform ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ to your financial community audience.

That’s what London-listed investment trust, Hipgnosis, did at its latest investor update in early December. Albeit, the trust does own the rights to range of back catalogues from the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blondie and Neil Young.

Hitting the right note

It’s not been normal practice at Investor Days this year – to say the least. If anything, we’ve seen them become slightly duller, more staid affairs as companies have struggled to set the right tone in the wake of the pandemic.

Investor Days have become an increasingly popular way for companies to take their messages direct to their institutional investor audiences, particularly as brokers and banks retreat from intermediary IR activities in Europe and the US. In the immediate aftermath of the pandemic there was a rush to update investors on new strategies – and the vast majority of Investor Days were completely virtual.

Now companies face the challenge of whether to make their events wholly virtual, hybrid or face-to-face – while also struggling with not wanting to look profligate in the face of global themes such as inflation and the fallout from the war in the Ukraine.

‘If we make it just virtual we miss out on the benefits of the face-to-face chats that we want to return to,’ says one London-listed company’s IR Director. ‘If we make it hybrid we risk no-one turning up to live event. Yet just making it face-to-face seems too harsh and too much of a risk in today’s environment.’

Toned down

The result of this conundrum has been all sorts of mixed solutions – with frantic last-minute attempts to rustle up live audiences combined with similar swerves towards complete virtual events with little or no warning. Add in the challenge of slightly depressing macro themes and the post-pandemic glitz for Investor Days has been toned so far down by some companies that it’s hardly surprising they are getting low audiences.

So, what are the secrets to good Investor Days in this new environment? Here are our top tips:

  • Prepare your messaging early – and make sure that core messaging is shared across the speakers, ie that there is a consistent story.
  • Rehearse – all speakers should spend time rehearsing and practicing their presentation, including honing the approach in tandem with other speakers. Do a live run-through of the event production, too.
  • Cut up the content – mix up the speakers with videos and/or different approaches to presentation. By all means have a podium speaker but intersperse any long-winded PPT decks with panel discussions, animated interludes, fireside chats. In essence, keep it moving.
  • Come back to your core messages – don’t be shy about saying your core messages up front and then repeating them throughout with a wrap-up at the end. Audiences only take away three or so key messages from any event – so you better be sure that they hear them.

We regularly tell our clients that you need to think of today’s Investor Days or Capital Market Days as something of a TV show – they have to be fast moving to keep the audience interested. That said, rest assured that in most situations you don’t need a rock god to join you on the stage. And if you do happen to have one waiting in the wings, choose the song and lyrics carefully. ‘Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear…’

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Richard Carpenter

Chief Executive Officer

Richard is responsible for driving Bladonmore’s strategy and the running of our global business.

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