By: Elina Chow

October 30, 2017

Investor Relations (IR) is not one of those professions that we grew up aiming to do. Can you see a 7 year old ever telling you they want to be an IR executive when they grow up?

Most IR professionals fell into their capacities by accident and they often come from all walks of life. If you ask 10 people to define IR, you may very well get 10 different answers. To me, IR is a critical function in any organization that have or want shareholders. We handle inquiries, create materials that effectively communicate our companies’ messages to the investment community and coordinate a lot of the efforts in between. We facilitate the management and board in understanding shareholders’ expectations and manage those expectations by helping shareholders understand management’s decision and position. IR professionals’ primary responsibility is to ensure there is a steady stream of communication between the company and its shareholders.

Without throwing industry jargon at you, because, come on…let’s just K.I.S.S. (keep it simple silly)…. I have always defined IR as a function that performs 90% of the work in communicating a company’s story to potential and existing shareholders – we find the venue, we write and hone the script, invite qualified guests, set the stage and do the post-event follow ups. We take care of all of those things so our CEOs can go up on stage and sell the company – the 10% that far surpasses the 90% of work we perform in importance. This 10% is what makes the difference in the company’s share price. IR’s role is not to raise our companies’ share price, though it does happen as a side effect of what we do. For the most part, we shouldn’t take the credit when our company’s share price go up, but at the same time, we shouldn’t take the hit when the price goes down either! When it comes to shareholder communication, we are here to relieve our CEOs of the 90% of work so he or she can efficiently do what’s most important – getting the investors to buy. After all, they simply do not have time to do the 90% of the work…they kind of have a company to run!

Sadly, IR people frequently feel like they are the most underappreciated people in the company….because we do not contribute to the actual operation of the companies we represent and as a result, we have been looked at as a throw away function. I have found myself feeling that way a few times too many over the past 12 years. From being an in house IR executive to now an IR consultant, it has been a struggle at times to get some form of recognition. But IR is not a throw away function…not something that’s “good to have but not required” ….not something that “anyone can do.”

We are the front line when it comes to the battle for shareholders’ attention and we are often the ones behind the CEO, holding the proverbial spotlight to make sure he or she looks his or her best in front of investors. To my fellow IR colleagues, if you’re looking for credit or the spotlight, it may be time to seek alternative opportunities. But to those of us who are happy in the supportive role that our function was developed and intended to be, we should be very proud for what we do for our companies.

I, for one, am proud of being an IR professional.

-EC

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