Bringing ESG-level transparency to Q&As from investor meetings

Published On: October 14th, 2021By 4.7 min readViews: 47

Directors do not pay much attention to recording and managing responses to investor queries at and following investor meetings.

The Q&A section of virtual events (and normal events) contains material information that should be distributed to and transparently, continuously made available to investors (existing and potential).

I’m referring to:

  • Earnings presentations
  • Investor presentations (private and public)
  • AGMs

An investor knowledge base with FAQs is one of the most effective ways to address transparency and completeness of information issues. The knowledge base centralises, online, every question and answer investors wish to raise and is a permanent repository and archive of proceedings and issues arising.

Software solutions in this area are able to centralise both company-website and company secretarial website interactive support under a single managed platform.

Transfer secretaries are not qualified or empowered to answer non-administrative queries typical of investor meetings.

Support staff not versed in investor relations issues should escalate queries to qualified IR and corporate communications staff.

Knowledge bases enable accumulation of content over time, based on actual interactions through the website based ticketing system. The content is searchable on Google and can be segmented by event. It is possible (and recommended) to record EVERY question and answer – often an undertaking given by companies but not carried out.

Our January 2021 study of investor relations websites of the top 100 (by market capitalisation) listed African companies showed that only 14 companies have an investor-specific FAQ section or knowledge base. With none being comprehensive eclectic archives of investor questions and answers.

The multi-fold benefits of knowledge-bases:

1. Investor information is democratised

Investor information is made freely and equally available and accessible to shareholders, analysts and other important stakeholders. This is a pillar of investor protection (but not talked about much by our African regulators).

Particularly for material information shared at investor meetings, because this content is generally not available elsewhere.

A knowledge base is the best place to store a full repository of virtual AGMs and investor meeting Q&As under event-specific headers. Easily findable, SEO friendly and not gated.

As best practice, each virtual event should have its own header with the questions categorised, and complemented by content from the presentation in a knowledge base.

More generally, centralising all questions related to the investor relations function – which then appear on both the corporate (or investor relations) and share registrar websites – helps to fulfill a company’s legal and communications governance obligations.

BONUS: Investor relations knowledge bases can hold share registrar service providers’ performance to account in real-time.

2. Investors get the answers they want faster, and on their own.

Up to 90% of consumers consider immediate response to their queries as important or very important. It’s no different for investors.

And they want to find answers on their own. A study by Forrester confirmed that people prefer knowledge bases over all other self-service channels.

Having an investor knowledge base makes both of these possible for shareholders.

Copperbelt Energy Corporation takes it a step further by segmenting their investor knowledge base by category and providing a functional search bar. Keywords are Google+ optimised making it even easier for investors to find answers to their questions quickly.

3. Pressure is relieved from the customer service or investor relations team

As content is accumulated in the knowledge base, the physical support interactions with the customer service or investor relations team fall proportionately.

In a commercial context, well-structured knowledge bases negate the need for big call centres.

Real-time interactions with investors enable real-time reputation management and monitoring of:

  • the number and nature of investor queries being received
  • the time that is taken to respond to and resolve queries
  • growth of the email list or mobile app followers
  • the quality of interaction

Plus, a knowledge base saves time spent repeatedly answering the same basic questions over and over again.

4. Responses automated

Interactions through the ticketing system can be automated, either by a bot or by response templates. So feedback is more immediate, particularly during ‘away’ hours.

But there’s a risk that responses can be inappropriate, so the team will need to carefully consider when this is most fitting and useful for investors.

Ultimately, knowledge bases big ROI can be, in the commercial sense, to help reduce phone calls and free up the team’s time to focus on other tasks.

An opportunity to grow an email list or mobile app followers flows naturally from registrants recording their support tickets. Integrating the investor knowledge base with commercial information is a great way to leverage a commercial brand. And obviously vice versa.

Knowledge bases as part of a digital online investor relations programme

An investor relations knowledge base should be a critical part of any communications governance or online investor relations function, especially as they do the following:

  • Centralise all questions related to the investor relations function
  • Have a Google-search-bar-style function
  • Appear on both the corporate and share registrar websites
  • Include full, real-time analytics
  • Can be managed completely independently of the corporate website on which they are houses

Lastly, an honourable mention to these companies for providing investor-specific FAQs or knowledge bases on their websites:

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About the author: Rob Stangroom

My mandate for listed companies in Africa is to commercially leverage direct contacts with retail and professional investors. AfricanFinancials is an initiative for listed companies, by listed companies to implement good communications governance and investor relations practices. Many companies don’t care about retail investors, BUT in the modern day of social and digital media theýre missing out on commercial opportunity: an investor typically is and should be a customer.

More posts by Rob Stangroom

Digital Governance Newsletter

Practical, hands-on insights from capital markets and data practitioners dedicated to making online investor relations work in African stock markets.

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