Full-year reporting isn’t just a box to tick on the corporate to-do list. For Investor Relations Officers (IROs), delivering a comprehensive and seamless experience for investors and analysts when disclosing their company’s financial, operational, and strategic results for the last year is one of the most important tasks they have.
According to the US-based National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI), 92% of the companies its members represent hold earnings calls, and nearly all of them are hosted via webcasts. However, while all quarterly calls are crucial, the full-year earnings call can define impressions on your company as an investment opportunity going into a new year.
Here, we’ll explore five common mistakes IROs make in this process and offer solutions to prevent them.
The risks of a live performance
When presenting information during a live earnings call presenting full-year reporting, multiple issues can arise. If a presenter makes a mistake or appears unsure, there’s very little opportunity to recover. This can confuse listeners and result in the misinterpretation of the company’s message. There’s also a risk that financial data might be delivered inaccurately.
Even minor errors can have significant consequences, from stock price fluctuations to regulatory issues. These reports require that public disclosures, including those made when reviewing annual results, be accurate. False statements or the omission of information can lead to potential legal consequences.
An IRO can avoid these issues by pre-recording the session. It allows for rehearsing, refining, and ensuring that the narrative is concise and to the point. Pre-recording allows for ample time to review and double-check financial data and statements, reducing the risk of misinformation during the presentation. Having the presentation pre-recorded also means the call can be precisely timed, ensuring that it stays within its allocated slot and doesn’t overrun. Aside from assuring the accuracy of the information about the company’s annual results, knowing that the main message has been pre-recorded can relieve pressure on executives.
In a report from IR Magazine, one North American executive said, “Not all of our executives like to follow a script, so pre-recording lets them speak genuinely and off the cuff, while still allowing us the time to edit.” Since they don’t have to worry about their performance during the presentation, speakers can instead focus on preparing for the live Q&A segment.
Proper scheduling of releases of required materials for full-year reporting
The tedious but high-stakes task of the IRO is to cross-reference the two places where the press release will be displayed to ensure consistency between a newswire and their IR website. If the information is not identical to the information shared on these two platforms, the company may be found to be non-compliant.
Also, depending on the jurisdiction, there are often regulations that dictate the timing and sequence of financial disclosures. Deviating from these statutes may attract regulatory scrutiny, concern analysts and investors, and incur potential financial and legal penalties.
To address these challenges, companies can leverage an IR website partner offering integrations with newswire platforms such as Business Wire. With this type of integration, a press release is issued through the newswire when the call starts, and the same information is updated on the company’s IR website. This ensures that all stakeholders, whether attending the earnings call, reading the press release, or getting the annual report from the company’s website, receive the same information.
Integrating a newswire with the IR website also eliminates the need for the IROs to coordinate the separate release of information on different platforms. This not only ensures accuracy and timeliness but also significantly reduces the operational burden on the IRO.
When explaining complicated financial data and company strategies, presenters must feel comfortable delivering their materials and understand how the technology works. If they lack preparation, it can undermine the speaker’s credibility and the organization they represent. In addition, if an executive is unfamiliar with the technology, it can lead to mistakes or oversights.
Pre-release testing is an absolute must. Before the call, the speakers and tech team should thoroughly check all the equipment to ensure everything works properly. This testing phase can identify and rectify potential issues beforehand.
Having a dry run also allows the presenters the opportunity to finalize their pacing, tone, and process for the session. One study from the University of Florida found that 72-75% of people indicate some level of anxiety when it comes to public speaking. Practice makes perfect, and having the opportunity to do a full run-through will help make for a less stressful experience.
Technical glitches and support
While the virtual nature of earnings events offers many advantages, it’s not without its potential pitfalls, including the dreaded technical failure. Often, these glitches are caused by using a free or reseller platform that is not dedicated to investor relations. These platforms aren’t built to deliver financial updates, and receiving timely technical assistance can be a struggle.
Imagine being in the middle of an earnings call delivering full-year results, and the screen goes completely black. Would you expect a company offering a free or bundled product to know an issue exists before you try to contact them? What if stakeholders struggle to log into the session, what level of support will the audience have from a service that provides the event platform as a part of other bundled services, like email, drive space, and calendars?
Unlike generic platforms, a dedicated IR platform is tailored to deliver financial results. From the user interface to the backend architecture, everything is optimized for the unique demands of Investor Relations. A dedicated IR platform provider understands how critical full-year reporting disclosures are. As a result, a provider purpose-built for IR offers proactive monitoring during live events. This means if an issue arises, there’s a team ready to respond.
These platforms also prioritize security and stability, understanding that financial disclosures are sensitive and that any downtime can have significant regulatory and financial consequences. Regular updates, patches, and security protocols are a standard feature.
In addition, recognizing that the audience includes stakeholders from varied technical backgrounds, dedicated IR platforms are designed to be intuitive. If an investor or analyst needs assistance logging in or accessing content, there’s immediate support available to guide them through.
Overlooking accessibility issues
When was the last time you reviewed the accessibility requirements that impact your business? Many organizations assume that all websites and technology are universally functional. Without confirming that your session or annual reporting will be displayed properly across different devices, there’s a risk that content may appear distorted, and links or essential features could malfunction.
Another common oversight is failing to have the full-year reporting information available on an IR website that accounts for the needs of people with disabilities. In some cases, failure to even results in a lawsuit. According to Gartner, website accessibility lawsuits increased by 12% from 2021 to 2022. If these considerations are not taken, there will be missed opportunities to engage the whole investor pool, and this has the potential to damage the company’s reputation for not being inclusive.
With an increasing number of users accessing content through mobile devices, it’s imperative that webcasts and IR websites adapt seamlessly to various screen sizes. This ensures that no matter how an investor accesses the report, the content remains readable.
For any video content, closed captions are essential to cater to those with hearing impairments, and event transcripts should be readily available. In addition, ensure that the Investor Relations website where the annual report is hosted complies with contemporary accessibility standards.
The importance of proper preparedness
As an IRO, are you prepared to elevate your full-year reporting strategy? Don’t rely on chance for success; take proactive steps to ensure your next full-year reporting is executed flawlessly. Explore further insights, gain more in-depth knowledge, and be prepared to deliver an unmatched experience to your stakeholders in the “Key qualities of a virtual earnings event provider checklist.”