NIRI Annual Conference 2023: Key Takeaways

NIRI Annual Conference Q4 booth

This year, the NIRI Annual Conference was held on June 6-8 in Chicago. Q4 had a strong presence at the conference including John Nunziati, IR Partner and Associate Vice President, and IR Directors, Jamie Stanton and Samantha Senna. We asked them to share their observations from the event. 

The NIRI annual conference 2023 was held on June 6th, 7th, & 8th in Chicago. This year’s conference brought together IR professionals from around the world to discuss key issues and emerging trends in investor relations, share best practices, expand professional networks, and recognize IR achievement. The conference format included general sessions presented to all attendees, concurrent sessions which offered a choice of tracks, thought leader sessions targeted as specific topics, and express talks for sponsored insights. This year’s NIRI annual conference was the second in-person conference since the pandemic, and NIRI reported that over 800 IR community members were registered to attend. 

NIRI Annual Conference Topics

Topics covered this year included the economic outlook, the evolving regulatory landscape, and navigating buyside and sellside relationships. Two topics which seemed to be pervasive throughout the conference were ESG and the potential impact on IR of the emergence of Artificial Intelligence. 

After dominating the discussions at last year’s conference, ESG continued to be a hot topic, and we expect it will stay relevant in upcoming years. This year, we saw more detailed sessions on the topic, including reporting on metrics, changing regulations, and activism. John noted that this topic has become more politicized over the past 12 months, and pointed to Coca-Cola’s ESG strategy.

The company made a great point that messaging on ESG should address risks and opportunities that are important to their business and outline what they are doing about them. Their CEO has stated that it doesn’t really matter whether you identify their efforts as ESG driven or not. What is important is to recognize that the company is focused on good water stewardship because it is vital to increase water security everywhere the company operates and sources ingredients.

To enable this, Coca-Cola invests in initiatives to reduce the amount of water used in making beverages and to treat and reuse water, promoting advanced water management practices, including replenishing the water used in its products. Communicating the strategic importance to the company’s long-term success puts their ESG efforts in perspective.

New to the 2023 NIRI annual conference, a lot of attention was put on AI and how it fits into investor relations workflows. Q4 was definitely in the forefront of that discussion as part of our ongoing efforts to drive important advancements in the investor relations profession and to continue to develop purpose-driven solutions to help IR professionals succeed. 

Jamie Stanton observed that almost every company mentioned AI in some way. Most people think AI is new and don’t realize that we have been interacting with AI for quite some time. In fact, algorithmic trading has utilized machine learning technology and has likely been trading in your stock for the past few years.

Now, however, we are seeing rapid adoption of this technology with ChatGPT breaking the one million user milestone in just 5 days. This compares to 75 days for instagram and 150 days for Spotify. As IROs further adopt artificial intelligence, new applications of these technologies will elevate our professional role and allow IROs to focus on the most important aspect of IR, the human aspect.

More Key Takeaways From the NIRI Annual Conference

In addition, Samantha Senna noted a key takeaway from the conference: the networking NIRI provides. While many in the IR profession work individually as a “team of 1,” the NIRI annual conference is a great place for IR professionals to come together and explore best practices as well as share their frustrations and challenges. There is a wonderful sense of camaraderie and empathy at the conference that provides an excellent environment for learning, being inspired to think of things in a slightly different way, and feeling understood. 

John Nunziati noted that, from a career development perspective, a key item to mention is this year’s recognition of NIRI Rising Leaders. Samantha Senna and Jamie Stanton, two of Q4’s IR Directors, were selected to be honored as part of the 2023 group of rising leaders. This is a great acknowledgement of the IR experience they both have built up and the IR thought leadership they have demonstrated in their roles. We are so pleased to have them as members of the IRSP team supporting our clients! 

Stay tuned! We will share some additional takeaways from the NINRI annual conference in a Q4 blog posting recapping a panel discussion, “Using Analytics and AI to Create a Dynamic Next-Gen IR Program” soon. As we look back on the past few days of IR engagement, it was very useful for leaders from our IRSP program to hear about the latest trends in IR, interact with clients in a face-to-face environment, join prospective clients at our booth, and answer their questions about our capabilities, and to expand their network of IR practitioners. We look forward to discussing any questions you may have about the event in the upcoming weeks.

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