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Evolution in IR: Blink and you miss it

05 March 2020

Sometimes it feels that things are changing so rapidly that they can come and go before you even know they were there. Perhaps it's just me, but I'm pretty certain that one or two versions of the iPhone passed me by before I realized they existed. That said, speed of change is not normally an accusation that you would level at EU legislators, but I'd hazard that by their own standards, they are moving along at a fair old speed and keeping the investment world on its toes.

The Shareholder Rights Directive II (SRD II) is keeping clearing houses, custodians and a variety of others occupied as we speak. The directive becomes law in September 2020 and is expected to bring fundamental changes to shareholder ownership disclosure - paving the way for some very welcome increased visibility into a company's shareholders. On the other side of the legislative coin are the effects of MIFID II, which are already being keenly felt by the sell-side, buy-side and corporates. And while some fortunate corporates are not experiencing the hardship of sell-side analyst coverage dropping off a cliff, or the scaling back of broker support, others are all too acutely aware of the informational abyss that's emerging in front of them. This presents new challenges for investor relations departments, in coming to terms with both understanding and engaging with the investor community.

Now at this stage I'd normally like to drop in the odd quote to stress my point about how important it is to adapt to the changing environment or become a casualty to its effects. My normal go-tos - Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde - just didn't seem to cut it this time round, which is unfortunate because those esteemed scribes were pure geniuses at combining real wisdom with humour.

The ancients would have been my next-best choice, and to be fair, Plato makes a fair point: 'necessity is the mother of invention'. It's as catchy as it is eternal - a quote of beauty.

However, I think it somewhat appropriate that it falls to a titan of industry, Henry Ford, to make my point:
'If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.'

Now, adding complexity to this changing environment is the seemingly incongruous fact that we are living in an age of almost an exponential growth of data and information. This is quite a conundrum. During this seemingly data-rich environment, corporates are simultaneously being starved of the lifelines that spread their precious message rippling out through the ether; at the same time, investor relations teams are being similarly starved by a decidedly informationally-less-nutritious environment in terms of actionable intelligence. So what to do, what to do?

Abandon hope all ye who enter here!
These are the words inscribed over the entrance to hell, as recounted by Dante in his Divine Comedy. While neither the Divine Comedy nor the corporate's conundrum are particularly funny and may at times feel rather hellish, there is still hope. Fortunately, IHS Markit is first and foremost an information company, and the expansion of all this nutrient-rich data is manna from heaven for us. Our very existence is built upon the harnessing of that data and providing its quintessence to our clients - helping them make the very best, and most informed, decisions that they can to steal a march on their competition. Only the most relevant and actionable intelligence will do, they say! And given the breadth and depth of our client base, you could say that we're doing something very right - by any metric.

And so how does this relate to me? You say.
Good question. The combination of an excess of data on the one side and the paucity of guidance on the other is kryptonite for many, but a heady cocktail for us. Most corporates have neither the time, the skills, nor the support to handle this information underload/overload and this is where IHS Markit's advisory solutions can help bridge that gap.

IHS Markit has a long history of providing actionable intelligence to investor relations teams across the globe with our solutions taking a variety of forms. However, in essence, they revolve around the provision of advice and insight with regards to current and future shareholders: i.e. the who, what, how, why and all the other question words that you think of. And most importantly, what you can and should do about it.

IHS Markit Intelligence is specifically designed to ensure that an IR team is armed with the clearest picture of why their stock is trading the way it is - and give the support to action those conclusions. Our analysts become an extension of the team, a resource to track market movements, make sense of news and data, and relay the most pertinent market moving information directly to you in a timely manner.

That puts you in the best possible place to be proactive with, or responsive to, leadership teams or investors by providing the most appropriate communications and insight at the time that you need them. Our analysts facilitate a frictionless flow of intelligence to you by distilling only the most useful information; working with you to connect the dots without the effort and noise. Each of our reports and insights is provided in a succinct and C-Suite ready format, so sending those messages through the chain of command is pain-free.

So with this in mind, perhaps we can improve on the still-relevant words of Henry Ford, and offer another tidbit from another paragon of eminently quotable wisdom, Sun Tzu, who proffered:

'Opportunities multiply as they are seized.'

Wise words Sun Tzu, wise words.

Please get in touch with our Advisory teams:

IHS Markit provides industry-leading data, software and technology platforms and managed services to tackle some of the most difficult challenges in financial markets. We help our customers better understand complicated markets, reduce risk, operate more efficiently and comply with financial regulation.

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