PEI IR Forum: Three tips for IR professionals

Investor relations experts at PEI’s virtual Investor Relations, Marketing & Communications Forum provide their best advice for navigating IR in a downturn.

Nearly 200 industry professionals gathered virtually on Wednesday for Private Equity International’s Investor Relations, Marketing & Communications Forum, now on its 15th run.

With the health crisis affecting the global economy and disrupting work processes, there has never been a more pressing time for investor relations professionals to effectively communicate with their LPs.

Here are three tips from the IR experts.

Build relationships not just with the PE staff, but with the CIO and board members

“Private equity teams within a limited partner had a lot of independence previously and tended to be more stable,” said one panellist at the conference. “Now there’s a lot of turnover. There’s been a change in the way the decision process works, and CIOs and boards have become more sophisticated.”

The senior executive said this is why it is important to also cultivate relationships with chief investment officers and boards, because having a good relationship with one counterparty would not necessarily lead to an actual commitment: “You can have a great relationship at one level and get blown up in another one.”

Maximise the impact of every online interaction

With the remote working environment, investor relations teams need to think of ways to improve the whole virtual experience for LPs. As one of the panellists said: “Instead of trying to figure out how we can do our job better, we ask ourselves: ‘What can we do in a Zoom environment that we cannot otherwise do in any other environment?’ And that reframing has unlocked a lot of values for our team.”

Some examples could include hosting symposiums with interesting speakers, recording fund reviews for LPs to view whenever they want to, and offering LPs more engagement with thought leaders from within the firm.

Show yourself

Rather than the green screen background on Zoom, the head of IR at a global asset manager recommended showing off photos of your kids or artwork you have on your walls.

“What’s happened with covid-19 is [that] there’s more room for personality,” the senior executive said. “Things got a little anaesthetised and standardised… and now we see people’s kids in the background.” There is room for personalisation, so bring that in a little and acknowledge there are people on the other end of these transactions.

Face-to-face is not replaceable, but virtual meetings have benefits too.