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Interacting with investors, either in person or by phone, is the lifeblood of a public company. But how much time should management allot to each meeting? Each situation is different, and should be evaluated in line with the complexity of your business and industry, and the level of familiarity an investor is bringing. For example, an investor call or meeting following a straightforward quarterly earnings report can be allotted less time than a call following a material announcement or major industry shift; certain developments require lengthier conversations than others. In any case, setting guidelines both internally and with the call or meeting participants not only helps to manage your time appropriately, but also helps focus the conversation.

Some ideas to help ensure a productive conversation:

1) Set a time length parameter

a. 30 - 45 minutes for phone calls and 1 hour for face to face meetings are good benchmarks; make sure all parties are aware of the planned length of the meeting in advance of its start.

b. When a conversation has a pre-designated ending point, it drives a more efficient/urgent exchange of information.

c. Participants tend to prepare more thoroughly and focus their questions when they know the time parameters ahead of the meeting or call.

2) Conduct a preliminary introduction

a. Depending on the complexity of your business or industry, have your IR team conduct a pre-meeting via telephone. That way, investors can get “the basics” which will allow them to do a deeper dive on the business and nuances in the industry when they speak with management.

3) Be open to a follow-up

a. Companies and investors can’t always get through every question during one meeting, and that’s ok. Time between conversations allows an investor to digest the first round of information and develop additional questions to benefit their understanding of your company and its business.

According to themuse.com, on average, a company’s senior management team can spend up to 50% of their time in meetings. Meeting with potential shareholders and analysts is important, but so is the productive use of management’s time. By taking steps to ensure that your meetings with these audiences are effective and efficient, both sides will benefit and senior management will have time to take care of the essential task of building the business.

Jen Belodeau, Vice President, IMS

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