Guest Post: Five Traits In a Great IR Pro

Investor relations pros occupy an interesting position in the communications world, skirting the area between finance and economics and traditional PR. We see their work during quarterly earnings and financial announcements, which has the capacity to move markets. Yet, their work is also done quietly, without the hoopla of celebrity events or (in many cases) a big social media presence.

Next month, IR Magazine is publishing a supplement, “Profiling the Best IROs in the U.S.,” that will take a closer look at the qualities of a good IRO. To provide a preview, Tom Johansmeyer, group marketing director at IR Magazine publisher Cross Border, has given us an exclusive list of some of the criteria they found in their reporting. (Johansmeyer is also a contributor to our sister blog SocialTimes.)

Click through for the details.

What it takes to be the best investor relations officer in the United States by Tom Johansmeyer, group marketing director, Cross Border

1. School and certification: It takes more than a high school education. A bachelor’s degree is a must, with 77 percent of respondents equipped with one (no surprise there), and more than half have an MBA (54 percent). Thirty-eight percent have a professional qualification. Don’t expect to find a doctor in the house, though. Only 4 percent of the IROs we surveyed held a doctorate.

2. Experience matters: This is especially true, of course, if you’re new to the world of investor relations. According to our research, the average head of IR was 38 years old when taking the top job. The youngest person in our study to get the nod was only 27, and the oldest was 52 (both with large-cap companies).

3. Built to last: Doubtless, you want an IRO who will be with you for the long haul, but did you know this is an industry standard? Job turnover among the top IROs in the United States, we found, was a mere 24 percent. The notion that IR is a stop along the way to another part of the company – or merely a spot where finance guys do a “rotation” – is fading fast. More than ever before, you can have a career in IR.

4. Self-starter: Again, this is a trait a company would want in any key position. For IROs, however, it comes with additional urgency. We found that only 19 percent of the top IROs in the country use an external firm for IR services. Interestingly, only three percent cited “Increasing demands on limited resources” when asked what keeps them up at night. Unlike PR, there aren’t as many resources available when it comes to communicating strictly with investors.

5. Cool under fire: When asked “What is keeping top IROs awake at night?” an astounding 21 percent responded, “Nothing, I sleep well”. Another 21 percent, more predictably, cited the economy. After that, there was a steep drop to compliance and disclosure, both getting 12 percent of responses.

To reach these conclusions, the IR magazine research team took a look at winners and runners-up for best IRO in the IR Magazine US Awards. More than half completed an online survey, and we followed up with a number of telephone interviews. For more information, visit the research section of our website.