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Best Practices for conducting one-on-one meetings with the buy-side

By   27 January 2012 3 Comments

An effective IR strategy has many components.  Such as setting measurable short and long-term goals and objectives and developing strategic messages and tactics to deliver the program.  The plan must also be monitored to measure its effectiveness and fine-tuned as needed.

Short and long-term goals and objectives can include identifying investors who are interested in your sector and/or known to have invested in your peers to meet with over the course of the year. (Although making sure you also meet with your current investors should also be a priority).

Okay, so you (the IRO) have your targeted list of investors, now what? What follows are some thoughts to help you and your management team make the most out of the one-on-one meeting.  I’d like to thank Rivel Research Group as these ideas are derived from their best practice reports based on topics of interest from members of the Rivel Intelligence Council (comprised of senior level investor communications executives) and assessed by buy-side investment professionals in both the US and Europe.

Adequately preparing the management team is essential. It may seem obvious, but having a discussion about Reg FD is important – as this meeting should not be used to divulge new information.

Another effective way to prepare management is compiling a list of questions and conducting a mock Q&A. As the IRO, you should work with management to come up with a list. It can also be useful to go through transcripts from previous events such as an earnings call to ensure a good sampling.

Be sure to include tough questions and how you will handle them if asked.  It is important that management not get defensive if asked difficult questions and be conscious of not sounding too rehearsed. As a one-on-one may do more harm than good if management comes across as overconfident, hard selling or as setting overly aggressive goals.

You should also take into consideration who you are meeting with and tailor the information accordingly.  For example, if this is a new investor, you may want to give a bit more detail around certain areas than you would for someone you have met with before. That said, don’t get caught up in too many details – stay focused on high-level details such as the ‘how’ behind the strategy.

Insight and transparency into growth drivers and key business goals are preferred over a regurgitation of previously disclosed information shared via press releases and on earnings calls.

A decision should also be made as to whether using a powerpoint presentation to supplement the discussion will be useful.  If you do decide to use a presentation, make sure the slides have minimal text and instead whenever possible, use visuals. Doing so, will help alleviate the temptation to read directly from the slides.

If it’s possible, having an Internet connection will allow management to access the company’s website to show a video or other asset that is housed on there on the fly.

Bear in mind, that whatever additional materials you choose, that they are helpful and relevant to the discussion. Also have a few printed copies and/or a softcopy on a usb key to leave behind – just in case.

Lastly, if there is anything that comes out of the discussion that needs to be followed up on, do so.  For example, providing supplemental material to help address an unanswered question. It also doesn’t hurt to send a follow up note to thank them for the meeting.

The buy-side values one-on-one meetings as it gives them the opportunity to have direct interaction with senior management.  Companies can maximize this experience by considering some of the ideas presented above.