Investor Relations as a Career
Ever since the Sarbanes – Oxley Act (2002) came into force, the Investor Relations profile has seen a significant growth. The Sarbanes – Oxley Act emphasized the need of investor relations management in the finance industry. New agendas were set up; accordingly, corporate governance had to follow new regulatory compliance where focus was primarily on auditing transparency and public disclosure, off-balance-sheet full disclosure, financial report accuracy, internal financial assessments and more. Moreover, companies realize that a well-trained and experienced IR team immensely raises the value of company securities.
People with experience in various backgrounds such as corporate communications, fund management, corporate financing, accountancy, sell-side analysts, buy-side analysts and financial PR, switch to Investor Relations profile.
If you still doubt whether Investor Relations has any value as a career option or not, know this – Investor Relations has “economic value” and therefore, every public company will capitalize on it.
A London Stock Exchange research positively proved quantitatively and qualitatively that when a company has an active and effective IR strategy, the company receives reduced capital cost, liquidity and fair securities valuation.
How to Switch into Investor Relations?
A lot of executives switch to Investor Relations profile in their later career in the desire for a varied and active profile. Take note of the educational and skills requirement to make this switch.
Experience is mandatory to switch into IR profile. Companies don’t hire fresh graduates, even in a junior position. Nonetheless, your educational background matters too. A Bachelors’ degree in Marketing, Finance, Business and any related field is necessary. MBA degree is an added advantage.
As an Investor Relations manager, you need:
- excellent verbal communication skills to talk with investors and maintain the company’s image.
- excellent written communication skills to prepare convincing presentations.
- to be detail oriented and have problem solving skills.
- to understand financial reports and study daily financial market happenings. While you don’t need to prepare financial models or get into financial analysis in “depth”, you need the ability to understand financial reports to convey the same to external investors.
- to be flexible, proactive, a learner and be able to work within a team. However, if you are switching to a mid-level or local company, you might be the only one handling not only their IR but public relations too. Therefore, you need to also have multi-tasking skills.
Duties and Responsibilities in Investor Relations
You need to understand the hierarchy in the Investor Relations profile to grasp the extent of your duties and responsibilities. Generally, there is the Assistant IR Manager, IR Manager and the IR Director.
If you are an Investor Relations manager, you will be required to assume all of the below responsibilities.
- overseeing the complete investor relations program
- reporting to the CFO (if any)
- coordinating and managing the investor relations team (if any)
- evaluating, improving and maintaining positive relationships with shareholders and investors
- extending investor relationship program to the vested investment community and the public
- ideating and implementing new investment strategies
- collaborating with interlinked departments such as marketing, underwriter, senior executives, CEO and CFO to establish new product strategies
- communicate the new product strategies to peer group communities and organisations like the Wall Street
- communicating the financial expectations of the vested community back to the management and counseling the management to reach the goals
- monitor investment research and communicate competitor research information to the CFO or CEO
- convey investment community feedback to the senior management
- fulfill the role of a public spokesperson, if the need arises
The Assistant IR Manager ‘assists’ the Manager in carrying about the above responsibilities.
Recommended Read: Interview with an Asian Investor Relations Manager – The interview is recommended because you will be able to relate to the person. The person switched profiles from IT to fund management to IR, and perhaps, you are sailing on the same boat too.
If you go on board as an Investor Relations Director, the duties and responsibilities will be as outlined below:
- advise senior executives on strategy development by considering the attitudes of financial regulators, analysts and investors
- advise senior executives on communication strategy to ensure best representation of the company within the financial community
- advise the executive team on the impact of factors like ‘mergers and acquisitions’ on the investor community
- maintain an active investor relations section on the company website, publishing latest financial reports, stock prices and press releases
- ensure a positive and active flow of communication between the company and the community through press releases and event promotions (the task can be outsourced to a public relations management agency if the need arises)
- build a powerful reputation of the company in front of stakeholders - stock exchange representatives, portfolio managers, financial analysts, investment department heads and research directors
- report financial statements to the vested investor community through annual reports, press releases and SEC filings
- consult the senior executives on the creation of annual reports
- brief the executives before any public conference with stock analysts and journalists
Overall, it can be assumed that the Director plays the role of a buffer between the company and the investors, ensuring positive representation of the company in front of investors and conveying company growth potentials.
Breaking into Investor Relations – 35 Interview Questions
First, there are no standard interview questions. The questions depend on your past work profile. For instance, if you have investment banking profile, you will be asked for the reason why you think Investor Relations will be a good profile for you and why do you want to switch.
The ‘why’ of switching profile is a given interview question, no matter from which profile you come because IR is an off-shoot of mainstream financial management with huge growth potential, and as such, every company will assess your experience and select the individual whose experience and outlook matches the company agendas.
You need to convey your mettle as an investor relations handler. You can highlight instances when your input with the previous company helped them to manage investor relations better.
The interview format varies with each company. There can be telephonic interview, interview with the HR, a group interview and interview with the CFO.
Here is a practice list of questions for Investor Relations interview.
1. How many hours are you used to working daily? Do you work on weekends?
2. Talk about any assignment that you and its results.
3. Which college did you study in? Why did you select that college?
4. What is your ideal career position?
5. Where do you see yourself five years in future?
6. Why should you be hired?
7. What skills do you have to make you the perfect fit for IR position?
8. What is your definition of failure?
9. How do you handle failure?
10. What is your ideal team?
11. What is your definition of trust?
12. What do you know about management styles and what kind of style do you want to work with?
13. Do you have problems following deadlines and instructions?
14. What if you receive instructions which are unclear?
15. Do you have any problem solving skills?
16. How many jobs have you accepted so far?
17. Why did you leave your last job?
18. What to do if there is problem within your team?
19. Tell us the top 5 skills that an investor relations manager need.
20. Can you relocate?
21. How much salary raise do you expect?
22. Imagine there is a difficult situation, how will you adapt to it?
23. What responsibilities will you not like to handle in the IR profile and why?
24. How do you improve yourself?
25. How do you take decisions?
26. Justify the salary package you expect in this IR position.
27. Why do you want to switch to the IR profile?
28. How do you overcome challenges?
29. How are you going to handle workplace conflict?
30. What will be your IR strategy for our organisation?
31. Are you comfortable reporting to CFO?
32. If you were given the task of building a team, what skills and qualities will you seek?
33. How are you going to present our company to vested investors?
34. How do you improve yourself?
35. Why do you want to switch into the Investor Relations profile?
Practice these questions well.
If you have 5+ years of experience in a finance field and want to explore further, try switching to an Investor Relations profile.