The market has certainly picked up this year, with an increase in market sentiment and consumer confidence. A strong retail period over Christmas, led to a push in retail IPOs at the start of the year, and the IPO market looks to remain buoyant as private equity firms look to capitalise on the increased confidence.
There are certainly more IPO windows now then there have been over the past few years, and it looks like there is a strong pipeline for the next few quarters at least, despite the recent slump in the markets. The greater IPO and M&A activity has led to a greater number of new IR opportunities arising.
As most of our candidates suggest, the prospect of being part of an IPO and establishing an IR function from scratch is an incredibly exciting one, because although financial reward is still a major consideration for candidates, the top drivers for IR professionals considering new roles, are a new challenge and career development.
The other hot topic over the last few months has been the recent changes by the FCA with regards to the use of dealing commissions and Corporate Access. Speaking with our clients, it appears as though many are on ‘wait-and-see’ mode as to how this will play out and affect the Corporate Access space. Will there be a need for IR teams to bring corporate access specialists in-house? What will the future of bank-side Corporate Access look like? With the costs of using independent houses often too high for corporate budgets, many of our clients have discussed with us the possibility of expanding their teams to include those with roadshow experience.
There are many candidates, especially those already within the Corporate Access world who are excited by the prospect of taking on an in-house role, where they can build upon their strengths and knowledge of the institutional investor base, but also where they can gain an insight into the workings of in-house IR.
A topic we are especially interested in at the moment is that of the rise of social media in Investor Relations. Speaking with our clients, it appears as though it is very much a divided camp. One side seem to think it is a whole can of worms and a potential legal nightmare, arguing that their audience (investors and analysts) are unlikely to go to their twitter page and a 140-character comment for insight. The other side, seem to think it offers them a more immediate and engaged relationship with investors and analysts, and is a necessity if a company is to be seen as keeping up with the modern advancements of communication.
Indeed, many of our clients are now considering previous social media experience when looking to hire, as hiring someone with a good level of experience in using social media platforms can ensure pitfalls are avoided.
View our recent blog on the issue: How should social media be used in investor relations?
In our next issue, we will be interviewing senior IROs on this debate.