Making IR relevant with design thinking

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

With rapid economic progression worldwide, it is imperative for us to stay relevant and in line with developments especially within the capital markets. This is only possible if we stay actively engaged with our clients and race toward a solution or objective together. While this more often than not involves an iterative process of failing and learning fast, one key aspect to success is to uphold the mind-set of design-thinking.

Design-thinking is about constantly innovating one-self or even work-processes with a focus on the end-user or objective. Applying it to the context of our professional capacity in investor relations (IR), it is imperative for us to truly understand what is in the best interests of our clients as we provide our counsel to solving their problems with a combination of creative and analytical thinking.

Having successfully assisted several companies to grow their valuations by more than 100% over a 12-month period, I often like to adopt a “fly on the wall” approach which is carried out through a two-tier design-thinking strategy. This allows a 360-degree perspective of the various factors that will determine the outcome and has been proven to be effective.

Tier-1 (Client-focused)

  • As a professional solution provider, we have to first understand the objectives or problems faced by our clients
  • This could range from seeking strategic investors to fund their expansion plans to enhancing shareholder value through share price improvement

Tier-2 (Output-focused)

While we devise a customised plan to assist our clients achieve their objectives, we have to first identify the key channels that would impact the outcome. We then align ourselves in their perspective positions to design-think what would suit their interests and address their concerns.

              i.        Analysts
  Driven by fundamentals, it is important to assess the company from a few
  angles such as valuations, macro and micro-economic conditions

             ii.        Investors
  Be it strategic institutional investors or the retail counterparts, the underlying
  concern is always on the returns

            iii.        Media
  Crafting the relevant and palatable pitch to ensure that the key messages in
  any corporate development are being communicated

In a perfect economic market such as Singapore, it would be assumed that all information and factors are effectively reflected in the company’s share price. There are unfortunately various variables that upset this hypothetical statement such as lack of information and understanding by investors of a particular company.

While design-thinking complements and sets the foundation of a successful IR programme, it more importantly inculcates the culture to have a holistic approach by looking through the lenses of various components. This also promotes a shift in general perception that an IR consultant is indeed different from a PR consultant with the former focusing on financial literary then communication.

As we progress with our clients, it is paramount that we adopt an open mind-set to embrace changes and innovative thinking. In the complex financial market that we live in today, the traditional “one-size-fits-all” approach is almost obsolete. While design-thinking may have set us apart today, we continue to reinvent our work processes to stay relevant with industry developments.

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