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Connecting with the investment community

Winners of the Best Investor Relations Award give their take on what makes for effective communication with their investors

Paul Lim, CEO, Secura Group.

Chia Khong Shoong, chief corporate officer & CFO, Frasers Centrepoint.

Eddy See, group managing director, Banyan Tree Holdings.

Ng Lay San, senior vice-president, group corporate relations, Sembcorp Industries.

Question: What does it take to set up an effective investor relations (IR) team apart from box-checking criteria such as issuing quarterly reports?

Yiong Yim Ming, CFO, City Developments:

A successful IR programme supports corporate management strategy and operating performance, by delivering a positive impact on cost of capital and share price performance. To be effective as a strategic management tool, the IR team must secure full commitment of the board and senior management.

In April 2016, we formally established a dedicated IR function to complement CDL's diversification strategy and sharpen our structural efficiency. More than just fulfilling a functional role, our broader vision is for the IR unit to support the advancement of our growth plans and deliver competitive advantages.

Market voices on:

Paul Lim, CEO, Secura Group:

For us, the over-riding principle for effective investor relations is availability and responsiveness of the management and the investor relations team. Besides committing to regular and proactive communications with our shareholders and the investing public, investors can also call us, or write/e-mail us with queries and feedback which are promptly answered. We also make sure that our website is informative and updated in a timely manner with the latest corporate developments and company activities.

Chia Khong Shoong, chief corporate officer & CFO, Frasers Centrepoint:

To us, it's not the "what", but the "how", that matters. The "whats", such as quarterly reports, are manifestations of how a company thinks about IR. As FCL's CCO and CFO, I lead our IR function with the support of an experienced team who handle the day-to-day demands. FCL's entire senior management team sits on the panel at FCL's half and full-year results to answer questions, and we provide weekly updates of our IR activities to FCL's board directors.

Our commitment to FCL's shareholders motivates us to constantly look at ways to enhance our engagement with the investing community though multiple touchpoints.

Christopher Borch, CEO, Micro-Mechanics (Holdings):

While Micro-Mechanics is still a small cap company, we have developed an IR strategy that allows us to efficiently and effectively engage the investing community. We believe in the need to respect the investor and the investing process, hence, our guiding principle to provide timely, accurate and complete information in all our communications.

Fostering trust with stakeholders in the long term also requires two-way communication. For example, we adopted a formal dividend policy in FY16 and reduced the general mandate for new share issuance since 2007 from 20 to 10 per cent, following shareholders' feedback.

Cindy Chow, CEO, Mapletree Greater China Commercial Trust Management:

We proactively engage investors through conference calls, one-on-one meetings, non-deal roadshows and investor conferences to convey our strategy, performance and developments. Property tours are also arranged for investors to visit and familiarise themselves with our assets, which are located in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. To connect with retail investors, MGCCT participated in the Reits Symposium and the SGX-Reitas Education Series in 2016.

Jacky Tan, executive director and CEO, United Global:

For an investor relations team to be effective, the company must firstly be committed to being transparent and accessible to investors and shareholders. This requires time - making time to meet analysts and fund managers on a regular basis, and to take their calls whenever they have queries or need guidance.

New investors also need time to get acquainted with our business. Typically, we reach out to these investors, analysts and fund managers every six months after we report our financial results. We also catch up with shareholders annually at annual general meetings (AGMs).

Ignacio C O Sison, CCO, Del Monte Pacific:

IR ought to be promoted by proactiveness and engagement, accessibility, employment of IT, and continuous improvement.

We used webcast for briefings, and e-poll voting during AGMs, long before this was required. We also proposed that we make our annual report available in our website in lieu of publishing the report or providing a CD, unless this is specifically requested by a shareholder, well before this became the norm, thus providing a cost-reducing, environment-friendly alternative for many companies.

IR is primarily relationship-driven and we must engage, be it good times or bad. We liken it to the service industry - we must serve our clients well - from endeavouring to answer queries within a day to reverting on questions unanswered during meetings.

Eddy See, group managing director, Banyan Tree Holdings:

First, have a clear strategy and a robust investor relations policy through providing high quality, meaningful and timely information to shareholders and investors to enhance their understanding of the company.

Second, have a multi-disciplinary team and leverage your team's strengths. Third, maintaining good relationships is key. Know your analysts, institutional and retail investors by having regular engagement with them through face-to-face meetings, results briefing, timely response to their queries etc.

It is important to have good relationships with the financial media through an internal public relations (PR) team or an appointed PR agency that keeps them updated.

Chong Chou Yuen, Group CFO, Tuan Sing Holdings:

An effective investor relations team is built on the ability to strike a balance between the "need to say" and the "what more can be said". Having a strong connection with the business and knowing our business well help us in deciding the "what", "how" and "when" to say to our investors.

Communicating on a regular basis with our internal users helps to bridge the gap between internal users and external investors. We must ensure there is consistency in the quality of information over time and circumstances.

It is important to give honest, clear and straight forward answers to investors and not "run away from the fire" when there is bad news to deliver. We place importance in building trust, credibility and value of expectations in the public statements that are issued. It's also important to respond to investors' queries on a timely basis.

David Oh, investor relations manager, Centurion Corporation:

At Centurion, we believe in timely, two-way communication with our company's stakeholders which includes the investment community, analysts, media and shareholders. We are also dedicated to providing information that is clear, honest and consistent at all times.

Hence, a well-designed, comprehensive and actively managed corporate website is one of the important platforms for us to effectively communicate and update our stakeholders about the latest corporate and business developments.

Lynette Leong, CEO, CapitaLand Commercial Trust Management:

An effective investor relations team not only engages its stakeholders with timely, unbiased and transparent communications, but encourages questions and feedback with a view to deepening stakeholders' knowledge and improving their understanding.

At CapitaLand Commercial Trust, we continually seek to raise the bar by proactively delivering quality, relevant and refreshing content to the investing community in a clear and comprehensive manner. We also use multiple channels of communication that include print and digital media, live webcasts, seminars and interactive face-to-face meetings.

Ng Lay San, senior vice-president, group corporate relations, Sembcorp Industries:

At the crux of an effective investor relations team is effective engagement with the investment community. This means that a good team is one that has deep knowledge of the company.

Beyond historical financial performance, an effective team needs to be able to communicate a coherent and balanced view of the company's strategy, value proposition, material risks and opportunities and prospects for the long-term.

As engagement is a two-way dialogue, an effective investor relations function will also be the "eyes and ears" of the company, providing valuable insights on market sentiment to the board and senior management.