At a roundtable event hosted by IHS Markit on March 28, a group of corporate access professionals from both the buy-side and sell-side gathered to discuss trends in the corporate events space and strategies around improving the entire process with and without software tools for all parties involved.
McEvans Francois, Director of Global Markets and organizer of the event said, “This is the first installment of a new quarterly series where we plan to bring together experts and participants from the three corners of the corporate access triangle: corporate issuers, buy-side investors, and sell-side banks. We look forward to the dialogue and ideas that will come from these thought leadership events”.
On the many areas of discussion, several stand out:
On MiFID II and rate cards
The buy-side needs more clarity on upfront costs before they take a meeting. Asset managers do not want to walk in to a meeting with no prices on the menu. Transparency on pricing in advance is key.
The buy-side wants more transparency around which sell-side activities might carry the expectation of payment. Not just an “event” per se but the components of an event as well. For example, a buy-side firm may expect to attend a single meeting, but the arranging sell-side firm invites them to a breakfast and dinner onsite during the same day of the meeting. The buy-side firm might be unpleasantly surprised to see three meetings recorded by the sell-side, when the expectation was to compensate for one.
On creating a corporate access agenda for the buy-side
When asked about the impact of direct corporate access tools, some buy-side participants admitted using these tools in a limited fashion as the quality of meetings provided can be inconsistent. The buy-side clearly still finds value in a calendar developed by the sell-side, as they often know all of the players in the space, can fill a calendar, and are able to connect the buyside with the most in-demand experiences around events.
On corporate meeting attendance and meeting types
The buy-side expressed a preference toward attending shorter, more thematic conferences over multi-day general conferences. Market volatility in 2018, which has continued into this year, has made it harder for the buy-side to dedicate multiple days to conferences. Conferences focused on a specific theme, and shorter in overall duration, would provide higher value. However, this opinion may differ depending on the type of buy-side client, some of whom may take a longer-term approach to investing.
Group Meetings in general were expressed as having low value (due to the number participants). Although some still found value in group settings to be able to hear from other participants, the majority preferred one-on-one meetings despite the attendee requiring more preparation.
Venture outside the C-suite
Corporates mentioned that it’s hard to pick and choose meetings with every buy-side regarding a standard CFO + IRO meeting. However, they would be happy to offer meetings with second-level / line-level management in various businesses, especially if it supports the current story they are communicating as a growth driver (for example, arranging a meeting with the head of their China operation).
The buy-side then mentioned that they would also be interested in more meetings at these levels in order to obtain greater detail and the operating level of a business.
Corporates expressed a higher success rate for sell-side firms who approach the company with a specific idea; for example, a field trip to meet with the head of their APAC business. Corporate reps indicated this type of request would be easier for them to arrange versus C-Suite meetings.
Corporates also expressed that corporate access tools today complement their strategy for filling meetings and are still somewhat “worlds away” from being the primary source for meetings.
On the buy-side internally analyzing their performance in corporate meetings
One buy-side firm mentioned that they are tracking how their portfolio managers performed in meetings with corporates by asking the corporates post meeting for feedback either directly or via the sell-side. For example, asking “were good questions asked”, etc. Understanding how the buy-side shows to corporate management has become increasingly important to ensure a high quality, and therefore repeatable, event.
Chris Sztam, MD Global Markets said, “We are excited to bring together many of our client segments to engage in conversation around the changing landscape for events and their role within the investment process. We look forward to bringing this group together on a regular basis to explore some of the most critical topics impacting their businesses”.
For more information on IHS Markit corporate access solutions, and/or to be informed of future events, please contact McEvans Francois at firstname.lastname@example.org or Chris Sztam at email@example.com.