Fresh from supporting gold mining giant Polyus on its London flotation, Charlie Jack, Hudson Sandler partner, gives his views on life after the 2008 financial crisis, how comms contributes to IPO success and the “buzz” of working with the media.
What communications challenges do businesses face when preparing for an IPO? And how can a strong investor relations strategy help overcome them?
The most common challenge is ensuring the investment case cuts through powerfully and quickly. The buy-side investors are notoriously short on time and the media is notoriously stretched, so brevity and impact are key.
Half of the skill is having the know-how to advise the client what to focus on. The other half is having the diplomatic skills to ensure they omit the rest.
You’ve overseen more than 20 IPOs over the course of your career. How has financial PR changed in that time?
In terms of the dynamics and issues, the PR process in the lead up to an IPO is arguably one of the few areas that that has not changed.
In 20 years, many of the other “traditional” financial PR work streams have changed massively. First, the evolution of the business media and its agenda as well as the sell-side analyst landscape means the scope of work has undeniably broadened for most in the industry. Second, life pre- and post- the 2008 crash still seems markedly different. So you need to be nimble and integrate yourself wider into a client’s business.
What would you say are the biggest challenges facing IR and PR professionals today? And what can be done to overcome them?
I would always say I am in PR, which supports and works with IR.
The dynamic of the City is that corporate brokers manage the buy-side relationship. Therefore, a perennial challenge for financial PR is advising with any authority on fund managers’ evolving focus and sentiment. Excellent relations with sell-side analysts help, but only so far. It is useful to get to know well some fund managers (without stepping on the toes of the broker).
How do you predict the IR and PR space will change over the next five years?
The majority of financial PRs (individual advisors and firms) will finally realise that having a sole and narrow capital markets focus is not the way forward.
What are your clients currently asking you about, or for advice on?
As ever, it is a range of things – from preparing for MiFID 2 to communicating how they are dealing with the consequences of a weaker pound, inflation and the national living wage. That, and coming up with an alternative caveat to “despite the wider economic uncertainty”.
What advice would you give your younger self, starting-out in the industry?
Don’t stop asking questions. Read the newspapers. Follow companies and sectors you are genuinely interested in. Get out and network. Accept that you don’t build relationships over email.
What’s the most rewarding part of your role, and why?
I still get a big buzz from working with the media. If you don’t, you are in the wrong game. Seeing younger members of the team grasp responsibility and ownership and forging relationships with clients is equally satisfying.
How do you like to unwind after a long week at work?
By getting wound up by my children!
I started kite surfing recently, which neatly ticks the mid-life crisis box.
- Pictured: Polyus’ Olimpiada Pit in Russia