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I help listed companies communicate effectively.

In the era of information overload, emerging market companies need to carve a clear, accessible, and compelling path to engage investors. To stand out and build trust, companies must harness the power of digital platforms, not just as tools for dissemination, but as strategic assets to foster transparency, dialogue, and value proposition. Below, we explore the 16 Minimum Standards of Online Investor Relations, each acting as a beacon to guide companies in nurturing robust, effective, and dynamic investor relations.

1. Crafting a Compelling Investment Thesis: The Art of Persuasion

Subtext: Start with Why

Insight: A compelling investment thesis goes beyond numbers; it’s the narrative that encapsulates your unique value proposition, market position, and growth trajectory. For instance, Tesla’s investment thesis extends beyond car sales, delving into its innovation in sustainable energy, thereby attracting investors supportive of futuristic and eco-friendly technologies.

An African Showcase: Econet Zimbabwe

2. Formal Disclosure Policies: Building a Foundation of Trust

Subtext: Transparency is Currency

Insight: A formal disclosure policy, much like the detailed ones often released by giants like Apple, sets the rhythm for consistent, predictable communication, eliminating ambiguity and fostering an environment of trust.

An African Showcase: Copperbelt Energy

3. Insider Trading Policy: Leveling the Playing Field

Subtext: Fairness in Action

Insight: By establishing a robust insider trading policy, companies ensure that all market participants play by the same rules, much like Amazon’s strict guidelines that govern trading activities and ensure equal information distribution.

4. Communicating Economic Value Added: Your Impact in Dollars and Sense

Subtext: More Than Just Profits

Insight: Companies like Google effectively communicate their EVA not just through profits, but by showcasing their broader economic impact, including job creation, contribution to GDP, and support for small businesses.

An African Showcase: Copperbelt Energy’s annual report illustrates its overall value added to society and how wealth is distributed to society.

5. Push Technology in Community Building: The Power of Direct Connection

Subtext: Engagement at Your Fingertips

Insight: Tools like WhatsApp and WeChat aren’t just for personal use; businesses have harnessed these to send direct updates, much like how Bloomberg quickly delivers market updates to a vast community of subscribers.

An African Showcase: Ecocash connects with shareholders everyday by sending its share price embedded in email (with announcements).

6. The Modern Website: Your Digital Handshake

Subtext: First Impressions Matter

Insight: A website is like a company’s digital front door. For example, Netflix’s investor relations website stands out for its user-friendly interface, comprehensive information, and easy navigation, making it a go-to resource for its investors.

An African Showcase: First Mutual Holdings Limited – a slick modern investor relations website.

7. Corporate Governance Profiles: Humanising Your Business

Subtext: Faces Behind the Figures

Insight: LinkedIn profiles of top executives are no longer enough. Companies need dedicated sections on their websites, much like IBM, showcasing their leadership, emphasising their competencies, experiences, and visions.

An African Showcase: Letshego Holdings Limited

8. Virtual Calls and Published Transcripts: Accessibility for All

Subtext: Your Investors Are Listening

Insight: Companies like Spotify have taken accessibility a step further by not only publishing transcripts but also offering live-streamed earnings calls directly on their platform, allowing a broader audience to participate and engage.

An African Showcase: Copperbelt Energy Plc

9. Key Investor Data: Knowledge is Power

Subtext: Empower Your Investors

Insight: By regularly publishing key data, as seen on Samsung’s investor relations page, companies can provide a clear view of their performance metrics, market trends, and forecasts, empowering investors to make informed decisions.

An African Showcase: Willdale Bricks

10. Managing Archives: The Power of the Past

Subtext: History at Their Fingertips

Insight: Coca-Cola’s extensive digital library serves as a testament to the company’s rich history and commitment to transparency, offering insights into their journey and evolution.

An African Showcase: Innscor Africa

11. The IR Knowledgebase: A Beacon of Information

Subtext: Clarity in a Click

Insight: FAQs or knowledge bases, like those found in Microsoft’s investor portals, act as first-responder tools, addressing investor queries promptly and reducing informational asymmetries.

An African Showcase: Copperbelt Energy

12. Distributing Annual Reports: Beyond Compliance

Subtext: Engagement Through Insight

Insight: Forward-thinking companies are turning these reports into interactive experiences online, akin to Airbnb’s creatively crafted reports that weave compelling narratives around numbers.

An African Showcase: AfricanFinancials.com and The Investor Mailing List

13. Social Media Savvy: The New IR Frontier

Subtext: Where Conversations Happen

Insight: Twitter has become a popular platform for executives, with leaders like Elon Musk famously using it to break news, gather feedback, and engage with the public, showcasing the power of social media in shaping investor perceptions.

An African Showcase: Copperbelt Energy

14. Third-Party News Engagement: Controlling the Narrative

Subtext: Be the Story

Insight: Collaborations with reputable publishers, as seen through the regular features in Forbes or Wall Street Journal, help companies reach wider audiences and provide authoritative perspectives on their stories.

15. Commercial Strategy in IR: Untapped Potential

Subtext: Beyond the Stock Price

Insight: Companies like Unilever have extended their investor relations to encompass broader societal impact, thereby appealing to a new demographic of socially conscious investors.

An African Showcase: Copperbelt Energy

16. Analyst and Broker Coverage: Shaping the Story

Subtext: Every Voice Matters

Insight: Regular briefings and open dialogues, like those held by Samsung with analysts, help shape the market narrative, ensuring a balanced and multifaceted representation of the company’s value proposition.

An African Showcase: Christopher Hartland Peel Research

Conclusion: Setting the Gold Standard in Digital Investor Relations

Navigating the digital landscape requires more than just a compass; it demands a map with clearly marked destinations. These 16 standards serve as waypoints, guiding emerging market companies through the intricate journey of online investor relations. By embodying these practices, companies don’t just meet the standard; they become the gold standard, ready to engage, inspire, and lead in the digital age.


Online Investor Relations Practices

Building effective online investor relations in emerging African markets presents unique governance challenges for public companies. Our guidelines aim to help these companies leverage their stock exchange listings and overcome communication hurdles.

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