Transforming investor days has the potential to revitalize and improve the way companies establish meaningful connections with their stakeholders. On August 16th, IR Magazine hosted the webinar “Taking an Innovative Approach to Your Investor Day” to equip investor relations (IR) professionals with the best practices for hosting successful investor events.
Moderated by Tim Human, a senior reporter at IR Magazine, the webinar brought together distinguished experts to explore the evolution of investor relations events. The experts included Valerie Durand, Head of Investor Relations and Corporate Sustainability at Air Canada, John Nunziati, AVP and Investor Relations Partner at Q4, and Charlotte Thuot Kucyi, Investor Relations Manager at Tricon Residential. Together, these experts formed a panel that embodied the forefront of innovative investor engagement.
Setting the foundation with substantive content.
Valerie set the stage by addressing a fundamental question: Why is the company holding this event? She explained, “Whenever contemplating an investor day, the primary concern should be its purpose. What message or information do we intend to share? So, with our last investor day, we were emerging from COVID-19, and the pandemic severely hit us. Markets were very interested to hear our view of our emergence from the pandemic, what targets we would be looking forward to, and what we were aspiring to. It was important that we explain to markets here’s where we’re at, where we’re going to go, and how we’re planning to get there.”
This approach ensures that investor events become more than just routine reporting and instead become platforms for meaningful interactions. John agreed with this sentiment: “We believe the best time to do an investor day is when your company can provide investors with insight that will change the perception of the company’s investment thesis. You want to be able to share with them some information that either was misunderstood or hadn’t been disclosed previously and that there’s new insight that they will come away from that event with. This perspective shifts the concept of an investor day from a mere update to an immersive experience that can reshape a company’s narrative.”
Navigating event frequency and engagement.
Regarding frequency, some companies, like Charlotte’s, opt for an annual investor day. The reasoning is to provide a platform for building and nurturing relationships with investors, who often have limited options for evaluating companies annually outside of earnings calls. “I spoke to an investor the other day who told me he looks at over 300 companies yearly. That only allows him to spend an hour or two per company per year, or maybe a couple of hours at best. So, to get their attention for a day is just a great use of time for your team.”
However, Charlotte acknowledged the importance of making the engagements unique, stating, “We aim to capture their attention for a whole day amidst their busy schedules, which means keeping our presentations fresh is essential. We mix up the formats, introduce various leadership team members, and showcase customer testimonials and success stories to provide a more in-depth insight into our company.”
Managing speakers and providing consistent messaging.
Moving on to a new topic, Tim asks the panel for their advice when managing speakers at investor days. John emphasized the importance of diversity among speakers and suggested involving employees at various levels, not just top executives. He advises preparing speakers, especially those unfamiliar with addressing investors, through one-on-one practice sessions and peer/executive rehearsals.
The conversation then shifted to Valerie, who highlighted the significance of effective messaging and content preparation when communicating with investors. She underscored the need for maintaining consistent messaging among speakers tailored to the investor audience. In addition, she recommended engaging professionals in messaging, graphic design, and technology to craft a polished message. Lastly, to ensure thorough content preparation, Valerie recommends planning at least nine months in advance of an investor day.
Technology’s role in transforming investor days.
Tim asked the panel to share their insights regarding the evolving role of technology in investor days, particularly in light of the shift to virtual and hybrid formats due to the pandemic. John noted, “When we think about hybrid in the past, pre-pandemic, a hybrid event would’ve meant an in-person event with an audio webcast, with maybe some slides available for download. But now we’re seeing a much more immersive hybrid experience. So the virtual components are now much more engaging for those remote participants.”
This shift aligns with the broader trend of embracing immersive experiences, where video integration and virtual tools enhance engagement. The takeaway is clear: embracing technology can amplify the impact of investor events in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
Effectively managing investor day crowds.
As the discussion turned to questions from the audience, Tim asked Valerie about her thoughts on crowd management when hosting an investor day. She initially discussed the logistical considerations for event management, emphasizing the need to plan for both presentations and interactions. She recommended relocating the event to an auditorium-style venue, especially if a large crowd is anticipated and the company’s headquarters lacks sufficient space.
When managing tours, Valerie suggests smaller groups for tours or interactive sessions. This approach is advisable because it addresses challenges related to effective communication and maintaining orderly organization. It is especially important when navigating through areas like factories or labs, where large groups would be impractical. She recommends breaking such interactions into smaller groups, ideally groups of four or fewer.
John agreed with this point and advised that if the investor day is not being held on company property, it is essential to become familiar with the location by conducting a thorough walkthrough. This includes staying informed about any ongoing renovations at the venue and gaining a clear understanding of the location’s layout and any specific requirements so that you can adequately prepare for the event.
ESG: Weaving sustainability into investor days.
Valerie’s insights also shed light on integrating sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) themes. “Sustainability was a key theme throughout (Air Canada’s last event), even down to logistical details like avoiding plastic bottles. Aligning your event with your company’s ESG values and making sustainability a central theme is essential when planning your messaging,” she shared.
A similar sentiment was shared by Charlotte, who explained that it’s not solely about providing an ESG update. Instead, it involves ensuring that these themes are running through your presentation and the various elements of your investor day. Thus, it’s essential to view all elements through the lens of sustainability consistently.
Audience perception studies for refinement.
As the symposium concluded, the focus shifted to assessing audience perception. Charlotte stressed the significance of pre and post-event studies, noting that they provide invaluable insights into audience expectations and effective message delivery. This emphasis on feedback underscores the commitment to continuous improvement and ensuring that investor events remain effective and relevant.
Charting the course forward.
In a world where investor relations are constantly evolving, the IR Magazine webinar, in collaboration with Q4, provided a platform for experts and professionals to dissect and reimagine investor events. Valerie Durand, John Nunziati, and Charlotte Thuot Kucyi shared multifaceted strategies that form the bedrock of impactful investor engagements. The symposium showcased the power of strategic planning, technology integration, and sustainability infusion and underscored the importance of audience engagement and perception assessment.