Digitalization gaining traction in Swiss IR teams, finds survey
Covid-19, desire for greater process automatization and targeted engagement among key drivers.
A recent survey “Paradigm Shift in IR: Focus on Digital Interaction with Capital Markets”, conducted in April 2021 by the Center for Corporate Reporting in collaboration with the IR club Schweiz and EQS Group, has found that the investor experience in Switzerland is becoming increasingly digitalized.
Focus on digitalization
The survey revealed that nine out of ten digital IR communication tools, channels and platforms had grown in popularity in 2021 compared with 2020. These included – perhaps predictably for a pandemic year – digitally streamed IR conferences and digital roadshows (up 17% and 26% respectively). But the survey also noted a significant increase in the use of CRM and contact tools, digital investor targeting databases and digital shareholder ID tools. This trend shows the awareness of an integrated, holistic approach and reinforces the professionalization as well as the digitalization of the IR function. It also shows that Swiss companies are taking on greater ownership of their engagement activities.
In addition, 51 percent of respondents this year said that their IR strategy was aligned with their company’s digitalization strategy, up 6 percent on the 2020 result. Interestingly, 35 percent of teams still have no digitalization strategy in the IR area.
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A total digital shift?
87 percent of respondents felt that Covid-19 had led to a digital shift for IR teams. However, it is clear that many companies still find in-person connections with investors important. The majority of companies (58%) state that they will rely on a mix of virtual and in-person meetings with investors in the future.
Process efficiency and automatization was judged to be the most important driver of digitalization projects, more important on average than drivers such as cost optimization and regulations. Compared to survey results from 2020, its importance is steadily increasing. When asked to describe the attitude of their department towards new digital IR tools, majority of the companies (65%) stated that they regularly check whether new digital tools can increase the efficiency of their work. This is up by three percent compared to last year.
The survey also asked companies to indicate whether they would hold an online AGM, given that a revised Swiss corporation law will come into force over the coming years which will make online AGMs possible*. 25 percent of the companies said they planned to organize either a fully online or hybrid AGM. Many companies (40%) admitted that they had not studied the details of the law.
The survey featured responses from 66 Swiss IR representatives, with almost half coming from large cap companies (49%). Survey results were presented in a webinar “Digital Interaction with capital markets, employees and management” on May 26, 2021.
*Please note that at the time the survey was conducted, it was anticipated that this law would come into force in 2022. Therefore, companies were asked whether they would make use of an online AGM in 2022. This law is now scheduled to come into force in 2023.
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