Korn Ferry Study Identifies Career Paths and Aspirations for Heads of Investor Relations
“Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, the majority of IR leaders rose
through the ranks via communications or finance roles,” said
The study found that nearly one third (31 percent) of survey respondents had prior experience in investment banking and a quarter are qualified chartered accountants. Nearly half (47 percent) of survey respondents had worked in more than one industry, with 19 percent having operated in three or more sectors.
“We find that in many cases, technical IR skills can be transferred across industries and that the broad perspective gained in multiple sectors is often beneficial, said Lowe. “Although single-industry careers are increasingly rare, this deep expertise and knowledge is also highly valued.”
For their next move, 44 percent of respondents wish to remain in IR but with a more “compelling/differentiated scenario.” A sizable number (16 percent) aspire to become Chief Financial Officer, with a smaller percentage seeking to be head of Communications/Affairs, Strategy, or to take a role in an IPO.
In terms of reporting structure, 75 percent report to the CFO, and a small number (9 percent) report to the CEO, and the same number to the head of Corporate Communications/Affairs.
When examining budgets, despite demanding more strategic, broadly skilled heads of IR, two-thirds of companies are maintaining budget levels. A quarter have reduced budgets and only 9 percent saw increases. IR teams remain small, with two-thirds of Investor Relation Officers (IROs) having one or no individuals reporting to them.
In terms of engaging and retaining IROs, Lowe recommends stretch assignments. “IROs are attracted to challenging roles that involve such factors as international scope, group complexity, a shift in shareholder base, growth strategy, and added responsibilities for corporate communication or corporate affairs,” he said. “IROs also indicate that corporate support at the highest level (CEO/CFO) will allow them to add greater value.”