3 Communication Tips for your Investor Relations Team

Cut Through the Noise

What does it mean to communicate effectively? Success in the exchange of data and ideas can be boiled down to three main best practice areas: personalization, security, and transparency.

Investor Relations teams that excel in these disciplines are able to capture the attention of the recipient, share key documents with them, and demonstrate openness about their operations.

Communication Tip #1: Practice Personalization

In today’s competitive business environment, undifferentiated communications such as generic emails don’t warrant a minute of a recipient’s precious time. They’re deleted without a second thought.

Personalized communications, on the other hand, are much more likely to survive the sort of rapid-fire, involuntary inbox cleaning process that busy professionals employ, and to be opened and read. However, without the right tools, personalization can be a resource-intensive task that an IR team simply does not have time for.

Altvia Correspond Market Edition is a comprehensive system that provides the critical features of a mass email tool—like personalization—plus full integration with our AIM Private Equity CRM solution. This enables IR teams to engage with their network directly from the relationship management tool using features like:

  • Smart list builder with real-time contact syncing and full AIM integration
  • 30,000-contact capacity for each email blast
  • Automatic de-duplication and advanced scheduling

Prospecting, fundraising, and announcements about deals, roadshows, and other news all feel more personal to recipients, which results in greater trust and stronger relationships. And because the system handles personalization, sending out tailored communications doesn’t eat up valuable time.

Communication Tip #2: Maximize Security

How do you enable the efficient exchange of data and investment materials while ensuring that sensitive information is properly protected? That has long been a challenge for IR teams.

ShareSecure is an engagement platform that enables better investor relationships. The secure virtual data room serves as a convenient and safe place for GPs and LPs to collaborate. And they can do so with confidence, knowing that the system supports customized user permissions that give the right people access to the right resources at the right time. That includes seamless mobile document access for users on-the-go.

From documents to multimedia files, stakeholders can share virtually any necessary resources. The ShareSecure solution also provides management features to ensure that documents are properly tracked and handled as they evolve from drafts to approved, final versions. Plus, the system streamlines investor interactions by enabling digital signatures and discourages unauthorized sharing with customizable dynamic watermarks.

Communication Tip #3: Exhibit Transparency

At a high level, investors say they are seeking “data” or “information,” but at the end of the day, what they really want is answersAltvia Answers gives them precisely what they’re looking for. It’s a business intelligence solution that assimilates data from multiple systems, transforms and normalizes it, and displays it in a way that is simple for the person asking the question to understand.

Complex analyses are performed with ease, removing many processes that can be the source of errors. Then, the results are displayed in a comprehensive dashboard that puts insights right at a user’s fingertips.

IR teams benefit from the ability to:

  • Define real-time data connections that eliminate the need for manual updating of information
  • Leverage data that exists in virtually any format, from simple Excel spreadsheets to complex databases
  • Capitalize on the power of the cloud
  • Schedule data fetching to match their schedule
  • Dynamically filter data and drill into areas of particular interest
  • Tailor the system to meet the firm’s specific data requirements

You Need the Right Tools for the Job

When it comes to effective communication, having the right personnel and processes in place is important. Ultimately, IR teams need tools specifically designed for the tasks at hand in order to share information efficiently and effectively.

Create an excellent LP experience with our guide.

A traditional crm was built for general ‘customer’ scenarios

Software platforms have made the world a better place by making work a better place. Indeed the world is better off when people enjoy their jobs even marginally more, and workplace applications on big CRM platforms like Salesforce.com have done that and much more.

But the potential that platforms like these offer presents diminishing returns: once the platform provider has engineered too many industry specific components into its platform, its usefulness for other industries begins to be threatened, and with that so do the usefulness of the component tools built into the platform.

So it is with the CRM category that Salesforce.com has defined: it is generic enough to work for many industries, and yet still offers the potential for others to round off the edges and nail more vertically-oriented and extremely tailored software solutions.

Private capital markets are actually a great demonstration of this dynamic. Where generic CRM platforms simplify — appropriately so — to assume there’s a business, a customer, a sale, and service of that customer, there are a few industry-specific pieces that are missing.

Take for example, that investors become customers by investing through legal entities the GP raises. It’s a subtle but important nuance that just doesn’t make sense at a platform-as-a-service level (because it’s overly complicated for a simple one-time sale that many industries require), but which can easily be added without 10 years or software engineering. Once provided, the rest of the platform’s components become tremendously powerful again and you’re set to take over the world.

As a traditional CRM in our pillars methodology, these nuances must be present to properly account for investors in these legal entities, potential target companies and which are owned by these entities, the context of all interactions with these parties (as well as the appropriate overlap, ie co-investments), and how you’re arriving at finding these opportunities on both sides of the equation, such that you’re able to piece together what’s effective and what’s not. Not just because we say so, but because these are the very relationships and data that are key to the motivation behind a CRM in any industry.

It’s critical, too, that the valuable publicly-available information that helps to enrich CRM systems and save users painful steps of entering it themselves is fully-integrated at the platform level.

Again, look no further than the 3,000+ pre-built integrations that Salesforce.com — the creator of the CRM platform concept — has at a platform level to do so, and which only exists by way of holding just short of overly-specifying certain industry workflows that would present challenges to properly integrate.

Stakeholder reporting and communication (investor relations) draws on a range of datasets

The traditional “customer service” model of CRM systems once again makes overly-simplified assumptions about the customer relationship when applied to private capital markets.

In fifteen years I personally have yet to hear the terms “warranty” or “service call” in this market because it’s just not the same. But make no mistake, as uncomfortable as it may be to say aloud, customer service is more important now than ever and it’s constantly happening; the industry is, after all, considered to be a financial “service”.

As it turns out, that service is primarily information-based — it’s driven by data and takes the form of reports and analysis that drive decisions, and then end up again in investor-facing reports and analysis.

The foundational elements of a private capital markets CRM must be built such that they accommodate this data (like we discussed above), but so too that it can accommodate additional supporting data that investors (customers!) need in the context of service.

Oftentimes this supporting data — financial metrics and time-based values, for example — is believed not to meet the traditional definition of CRM and the natural thought is “well, better do this in Excel!”.

While I happen to believe Excel is still the greatest software application ever built, its introduction to this value chain we’ve discussed herein actually creates the problem many firms suffer from: key data needed to provide customer service (again: effectively the entirety of a firm’s reports and analysis) is now in disparate systems and detached.

Both of those dynamics are important and distinct: not only is this supplemental data disparate, but when brought together there is no logical association that can be made between the two data sets.

Allow me, then, to make the point very simply: not only can this financial and time-based value data (you may be thinking about is as “portfolio monitoring” or “accounting”) be a part of a CRM, it is arguably the most important part of a CRM because it’s at the core of what providing service to the customer entails — information that comes out of data!

Firms need a digital method to engage stakeholders (ie investor portals)

Investor portals are not new; in fact, for many of us — including myself — they conjure up horrifying nightmares in which we’re aimlessly guessing at folders to find the newest document we need.

So in lies the opportunity: not only have the portals we’ve come to hate not simplified the process of acquiring information, they’ve failed to create an entirely new experience that is “customer service” driven.

To be fair, this is not a B2C market where you’d be long out of business for not having focused on customer service and thus the customer’s technology-driven experience. But don’t expect to be around too much longer if you aren’t thinking about this shift.

Today’s institutional investors increasingly expect this same consumer-like experience, and a massive opportunity is being missed by not providing it. It’s not about providing them the experience they desire; it’s more about the ability to measure engagement that is had in return.

Put simply: what’s keeping the market from providing this experience is the availability of the information that’s required to create the service that provides the experience.

If you’ve hung in this long, you know that by focusing on your CRM, you have the data that’s required to manage the customer relationship and the technology-driven experience through which that information is shared to create a differentiated and opportunistic customer experience.

investor relations