Envisioning a Future as Trusted Strategic Advisors

One hallmark of great professional associations is their work to collaboratively envision and proactively help shape the future of their professions.

I wholeheartedly agree with this first sentence from the foreword of the National Investor Relations Institute Think Tank on the Future of Investor Relations report. Studying drivers of change, the NIRI think tank concluded the profession faces a disruption opportunity to renew and revitalize.  NIRI’s think tank evaluated the profession’s ability to navigate three major areas of change:

  • The changing nature of investors with almost half of assets in passive management funds, greater shareholder activism, and growing interest in environmental, social and governance goals.

  • Capital markets undergoing structural and technological changes such as greater reliance on private equity, more use of data analytics and automated trading, and the consequences of a significant European Union regulatory change.

  • Expanding knowledge and competencies, notably greater business acumen and directing IR as a multidisciplinary team function.

The Think Tank affirmed a long-standing desire for IR professionals to be recognized as trusted strategic advisors in the corporate C-suite. The think tank urged IR professionals to engage in self-assessment about their value and weaknesses. Those IR professionals who do act as trusted strategic advisors now demonstrate business acumen, integrity, emotional intelligence, and an ability to convene and integrate multidisciplinary teams.

The think tank report offers as many questions as it does insights about the future of IR. I particularly liked this question: How can IR professionals build trust in their situational judgment? They certainly operate in a high stake, volatile, and intensely public environment.

As the report explains, IR professionals need a big picture view and increased understanding of global economics, geopolitical knowledge and regulatory affairs. To help their companies pursue long-term results, they must be adept at identifying potential trends and measuring and interpreting progress toward corporate goals. Given this assessment, it’s fortunate the profession’s certification program recognizes foresight as a required competency.

Signature i supported the NIRI think tank in these discussions using several foresight methods and tools in the exploration and analysis. The report also features a chapter toolkit with these discussion resources to help members reflect on the future in conjunction with NIRI’s 50th anniversary. The report extends “an invitation for IR professionals and those in the broader capital markets engagement ecosystem to participate in a continuing dialogue about shaping the future of IR.”

NIRI followed the basic steps any great professional association can use to shape future: good research and analysis, thoughtful people asking difficult questions, an inspiring vision, and an invitation to others to join the dialogue and do their part to help achieve a preferred future.