Taking the important elements of your investor relations (IR) strategy into an entirely online or hybrid online/in-person format saves money and time. It also sets a sustainable example that your ESG-minded investors and potential shareholders will appreciate.
For these and many other reasons, leading companies are beginning to understand the power of the virtual investor roadshow. Recent advances in the technological sphere make this possible. It’s much easier than before for organisations to go online for their roadshows as well as other events like financial results meetings.
Dutch financial services company Rabobank is one example of this. Since 2018, it has held online investor relations events from its own in-house webinar studio. The aim was to improve efficiency for all parties and to create significant cost savings.
Whether you are launching your Initial Public Offering (IPO) and need an impactful deal roadshow or you simply want to engage your current shareholders and keep them in the loop with an effective non-deal roadshow (NDR), you cannot underestimate the power of this type of event. A 2019 study by Brown et al discovered that, out of the 12 most common investor relations channels, IROs at 610 publicly traded companies ranked non-deal roadshows as the second most important IR channel.
Table of Contents
Advantages of a virtual roadshow
Disadvantages and “limits” of virtual roadshows
How to conduct a virtual investor roadshow
Advantages of a virtual roadshow
A virtual roadshow is a more efficient way to engage with your current and future investors. You save the time of the attendees, who can dial into the conversation from their home or office rather than having to travel to a specific venue. You also spare the time of the CEO and CFO who do not have to spend weeks or even months travelling around on a punishing schedule that takes them away from the business. They can remain at the office whilst also fulfilling their key role in building relationships with investors.
Those organising the events do not have to spend their time overcoming logistical issues to ensure that the CEO and CFO reach every destination in good time and with contingencies for cancelled flights and other issues.
In addition, you save the time of the staff who are tasked with setting up rooms at multiple venues across a range of cities.
The cost of sending team members out on the road, across the continent or the globe can prove to be a large tranche of your IR budget. With travel fares, hotel fees, venue rental and a host of other expenses, going virtual makes a lot more sense.
To organise a virtual investor or financial roadshow, you simply pay one fee — that of a professional webcasting platform like Company Webcast. This can result in a significantly higher ROI for the business.
Reach more investors
When you are no longer bound by time, geography, cost and logistics, you can widen the reach of your investor roadshows. Going virtual allows you to talk to investors in areas outside the main financial centres.
You can also add more meetings to the schedule, as you are not bound by travel time between roadshows. However, you should be aware of the pressure that this can put on your presenters.
As the world is still in the grip of COVID-19 restrictions and concerns, holding a virtual investor roadshow mitigates the risk of gathering people together in one room. The socially distanced nature of a virtual event means that there are no concerns about attending even if you have the most cautious of investors in your audience.
Increased flexibility of your IR efforts
Many organisations were affected negatively when their traditional in-person meetings were cancelled in the spring of 2020. Having the option to carry out virtual non-deal or IPO roadshows means that, even if you return to holding some in-person events, you have a plan B in the case of another crisis.
Less travelling around different cities across the globe on behalf of the issuer and investors, analysts, journalists and other interested parties means fewer carbon emissions caused by your roadshow. With environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues high in the minds of modern investors, this is yet another way to show that you are committed to sustainability.
When it is possible to run a series of meetings in a virtual environment, there is absolutely no need to create unnecessary damage to the environment with a long travel schedule.
Conduct governance roadshows more easily
For managers, board members or committee directors wanting to engage the voting teams of asset managers, a virtual meeting is an ideal platform to discuss corporate culture, diversity and inclusion, accountability and more.
The representatives of your organisation can actively engage with multiple institutional investors, without having to travel to many different locations. This helps foster relationships in order to head off potential conflicts and activist tendencies in the future.
Disadvantages and “limits” of virtual roadshows
It can be difficult to gauge real investor interest
“One issue of not being in the room with investors”, says Nicolas Meunier, Head of Advisory & IR Solutions at Euronext Corporate Services, “is that it makes it more difficult to gauge their real interest.”
Some representatives will have their cameras turned off, for example. This means you cannot even tell if they are listening or being distracted by work and other activities.
Meunier also warns about virtual fatigue that your top executives may experience. The temptation is to line up more meetings than you would usually schedule, as there are fewer restrictions on time. However, adding too many presentations to the schedule can cause fatigue for the presenters. In addition, the more meetings there are, the more organisation and planning is needed to ensure they are fully up to speed with the particulars of the investors they will be meeting.
What about hybrid roadshows?
There are certainly challenges with a shift to hybrid roadshows, the format that enables some participants to attend online while others attend in person. For example, if the physical attendees are delayed by a traffic jam or a public transport incident, do you go ahead with the meeting for the online attendees or make them wait until the others arrive?
One suggestion for a hybrid approach to virtual IPO roadshows is to arrange a mixture of fully virtual and fully physical meetings in the meeting room, rather than trying to mix the two up.
How to conduct a virtual investor roadshow
Understand your shareholder base
The time of your senior management team is precious, so make sure that any meetings you host are appropriate for your business. This means understanding your shareholder base and working out which types of investors will best fit your existing shareholding. Which types of investors will bring the most value? Once you understand that, you can concentrate on streamlining your meetings so that each one of them is potentially worthwhile.
If you want to get to know your shareholder base, Euronext Corporate Services’ Shareholder Analysis service can help you understand who has invested in your company and why.
Fine-tune your outreach
Once you have your analysis, you can begin to plan exactly who you will target. This means selecting both value and growth investors as well as staying in touch with potential and existing contacts.
You can better target investors when you know the gaps you are trying to fill and the types of shareholders that are underweight in your portfolio. This allows you to utilise the time of your investor relations team more effectively.
Choose the right technology
You need the correct technology not only to run the virtual investor roadshow but also to handle the invitation process and to make it as smooth as possible. Invitees need to know exactly how they will be able to join the meeting, the hardware and software they need as well as what happens in the event of a technical issue.
When it comes to running the meeting, it is essential that the platform is secure and dedicated to hosting professional corporate events. Relying on everyday conferencing apps does not provide the same quality of engagement insights, for example.
With Company Webcast, attendees can interact, ask questions, answer polls and more to keep them engaged in the meeting. The platform also brings with it the experience gained from hosting more than 10,000 webinars and webcasts every year for more than 300 mid-size and large companies.
Craft a compelling story
The story you tell your current and prospective shareholders, your equity story, is key to their buy-in to the organisation. It needs to be clear, concise and consistent. This makes it more memorable and ensures they leave the meeting understanding your business and exactly what it is that you are striving for.
The more investors learn about your business, the more likely they are to feel connected. Once you have settled on the story you want to tell, you can create your presentation around that, using compelling examples of how it relates to the business.
Our Post-Listing Advisory service can support you through a range of investor relations challenges, including creating impactful equity stories.
Segment the audience
You should strive to truly understand the perceptions and expectations of your organisation from shareholders and analysts. This allows you to segment your audience for meetings and provide a more focused approach to each individual session.
You wouldn’t want to mix a discovery meeting with attendees who are vociferous supporters already. You need two very different types of approaches to make the most of your time with them.
In addition, you should attempt to group analysts with other analysts, separate retail investors from institutional investors. Generally speaking, the goal of segmentation is to make the meetings as focused as possible and ensure all of the information is relevant to those attending.
Understand the audience
Your presenters should be equipped with information on who they are talking to at every meeting. They should know who the investors are, what moves they have made in the market recently and whether they are likely to be friendly or adversarial.
This can also help you pre-empt the questions that they might ask and plan answers to potentially tricky or complicated queries. It is also a good idea to offer the first question to a friendly contact to get the ball rolling and ease everyone into this section of the roadshow.
Using digital technology to run a meeting helps keep this aspect of it more orderly, as the presenters have control over which attendees they address and when during question and answer sessions.
Document the interactions and follow up
You should keep a record of the attendees’ questions in your dedicated CRM tool. This allows you to build a better understanding of their personality, requirements and expectations.
Once you have collated this data, you can follow up with a tailored approach that utilises all that you have learned to best engage them.
Using webcast technology that collects people’s information on registration, you can instantly send out messages requesting feedback following the meeting. Plan the questions you want to ask and the results can help you dramatically improve your investor relations efforts.
What makes a successful virtual roadshow?
For a virtual roadshow, “successful” means engaging the remote audience, keeping their interest throughout the event and gaining valuable feedback. The more engaged they are, the more likely they are to concentrate, participate and respond to your message. Make sure you use a meeting platform with interactive features and update your CRM with meeting points as you go. This ensures you have as much information on attendees as possible to engage them further.
How do you prepare your executives?
You should set your presenters up for success with detailed briefing notes that tell them who they will be talking to and contain all the information they need. The presenters should also practice answering the types of questions they are likely to be asked in the various meetings.
Also, consider how you will keep the meeting moving forward if there are no questions or awkward silences occur. Maybe devise some questions of your own for the investors to stimulate conversation and allow all parties to gain valuable knowledge from the event.
How often should you organise virtual roadshows?
The IR Society says that there should be regular meetings with major shareholders, but that does not need to be more than every two years. However, you should decide the best course of action for your company, based on the available data on your own shareholding, your targeted investors, and their requirements and expectations.
The possibility of holding a virtual investor roadshow to target investors provides an exciting opportunity for IROs. You can engage more investors and reach territories that would not usually make the itinerary. You can also cut costs, carbon emissions and demands on your senior management’s time all at once. It brings convenience and puts you in a strong position to serve diverse client needs without excessive travelling.
With Company Webcast you can deliver slick and professional virtual roadshows that investors can interact with while gaining precious insights to help your IR efforts. Request a demo of Company Webcast to discover it for yourself.