The first edition of Fogel & Partners’ Executive Dinner took place on the evening of September 10th at restaurant Vassa Eggen in Stockholm. Our first executive theme was investor relations in an international context. We were encouraged to have 13 people from different parts of the Swedish business community gathered to exchange ideas and insights and to discuss current issues relating to investor relations.
The party was joined by special guest Alex Williams, Director of investor relations at Philip Morris International. Alex spoke about Philip Morris’ view on investor relations and the positive aspects as well as the challenges that arise from communicating with the investment community and other stakeholder groups. Right from the beginning, the dinner party joined him in an intense discussion, both with the full table involved and in smaller groups. More specifically, there were many insightful thoughts on how to (and how not to) relate to social media, how to attract and handle retail investors, the important role of Aktiespararna for the Swedish retail investors and what career paths are open to IR professionals.
Many of the participants around the table had experience from companies in crisis situations or even on the brink of bankruptcy. Stories were shared on how to get a company out of “the doghouse” and back on the radar screen of the investor community. The party moved on to discuss the difference between communicating a debt story and an equity story but how, ultimately, they need to be in synch. Other topics discussed were how different companies organize their IR and corporate communication reporting structures, guidance or not guidance when the market is out of sync, CSR issues and how to go about investor targeting.
After more than three hours of intense conversations, the dinner came to an end. Drawing one single conclusion is a difficult task, but it is clear that the issues concerning communication and investor relations are as interesting as they are complex. It is our hope that everyone who participated agrees that sharing experiences and discussing common issues related to our industry is key in a world that is ever changing.