29 February 2020
Listed companies must seek new ways in handling investor relations and organizing events better, says Kenneth Chung (left) of IRLink. Photo: HKEJ
Listed companies must seek new ways in handling investor relations and organizing events better, says Kenneth Chung (left) of IRLink. Photo: HKEJ

New approach needed in investor relations, says IRLink founder

Veteran investor Kenneth Chung, who founded an online platform last year to help listed firms handle investor relations (IR) better, believes companies need to develop a new way of thinking in relation to their communication strategies and engagements with shareholders.

IR should not be like walking on a treadmill, moving in a unidirectional way, he says, stressing that the changing times require corporates to pursue a new approach in matters such as keeping investors informed of important developments and organizing events.

Chung told the Hong Kong Economic Journal that he perceived a gap in the market and that’s why he, along with a team, launched IRLink, a fintech startup that enables listed firms to organize and manage IR events through automated and intelligent tools.

In order to obtain updated news about listed companies, investors had been relying heavily on company websites and emails, communications which are unidirectional in nature.

But companies are finding that such arrangements are no longer enough, Chung said, pointing to the increased demands of investors in the era of smart mobile devices.

Chung, an IRLink board member who has more than 15 years of experience working in investment banking and capital markets, said investment strategies are instantly changing in seconds, and that IR needs to evolve to keep pace with that.

An IR platform should ensure personal messaging to individual users, instead of work emails, like what Facebook does, he said.

Investors used to receive relevant information after a certain period of time after IR events, but now the messaging need to be more quick, he said.

As people may change jobs frequently, their work emails could become dysfunctional, he noted.

After any IR event, attendees’ business card details have to be recorded, manually, one by one, to get hold of their latest work information.

When it comes to IR events, investors should be able to respond with just an online click to inform the companies whether they will attend the event.

That will enable the firms to gauge the attendance level and secure the right venue and plan other logistics properly.

Since its launch, IRLink has attracted several thousand users, including about 10 financial public relations firms and financial companies.

Chung expects his firm, which has also ventured into the mainland China market, to achieve breakeven by the end of this year. 

Among other things, listed companies can buy data collected by the IR platform on matters such as past event details, number of people browsing the websites, and the investor profile.

IRLink has developed a WeChat version of the platform in a bid to collect mainland user preferences.

Adapted from an article that appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 5

Translation by Jonathan Chong with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal