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The Westwicke Blog is designed to deliver information and insights into the ever-changing world of investor relations and the capital markets, with a specific focus on the healthcare industry.

How to Succeed at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference

Posted on December 2nd, 2015. Posted by

The J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference is a few weeks away, and just about every management team and major investor in the industry understands the crucial role this conference plays in bringing all sides together. Simply put, there is no more important single event of the year within the world of healthcare investing.

But things will be a bit different in San Francisco next month from what attendees have been used to. Over the past few years, with strong equity markets, picking winning investments was relatively easy. As a sea captain once said, a rising tide lifts all boats. But the pullback in the equity markets and uncertainty surrounding the IPO market has changed the climate in which the 2016 conference will take place.

Investors are becoming pickier, and that requires a more thoughtful approach to the event.

What does that mean for you? While you shouldn’t need to start from scratch with your presentation materials, you do need to work even harder to make your story is crisp and compelling. Here are some things to keep in mind as you make your final preparations for next month’s show.

Keep your presentation tight. Build a presentation that can get your story across in about 15 minutes. It’s one of the most common mistakes I see executives make: They understandably believe their story is an important and complex one, so they try to pack their investor decks with so much information that they can’t get through it in the time allotted. You think you have 30 minutes, but meetings rarely start on time and once you get past introductions, there could be as little as half that remaining.

In 15 minutes or less, you should:

  • Clearly articulate what differentiates you from your peers. Remember, potential investors will meet with dozens of companies during their time in San Francisco. You need to stand out.
  • Highlight what is new with your story. If you don’t have anything to say that your audience hasn’t already heard, why are you meeting with them?
  • Outline your 2016 goals or potential key milestones. Analysts and investors will want to know exactly how you measure your own success.
  • Refine and simplify your growth strategy. Are your assumptions believable? Professional investors will easily see through pie-in-the-sky predictions.

Treat the bullet-list above as a checklist for your investor deck. Make sure each item is included and that the story you tell matches your presentation.

Use your time wisely. The J.P. Morgan Conference runs four days. But despite the importance of the event, it isn’t always necessary to stay for its entirety. Two days in San Francisco can prove to be very productive with proper planning.

The most important element of that plan is to create a list of desired meeting partners. At the conference, people with time to fill often load up their schedules with meetings with private equity and debt-focused firms. If your balance sheet is flush and you don’t need additional capital, these might prove to be a waste of time. Or they’ll meet with service providers like law firms or headhunters. Take these meetings if you need those services, but don’t feel the need to take them just to fill time.

Time your good news to coincide with the event. If you have positive news to share, announcing it on the Monday morning of the conference will give you a great talking point for your entire time in San Francisco. Possibilities include preliminary results for the fourth quarter and full year 2015, a preliminary 2016 outlook, or any new strategic partnerships or acquisitions.

Consider creating two versions of your deck for different audience. You’ll use your standard investor deck for meetings with buy- and sell-side analysts. But for investment bankers, you can develop a version that includes financial projections and non-public accomplishments or filings.

One final thought: It’s not clear how long the IPO market will remain challenging. And while there are few things in business as gratifying and game-changing as a successful public offering, there are other ways to finance your growth, at least for short periods of time. So if the IPO market stays choppy for an extended period, consider other options to maintain your leverage and flexibility.

Westwicke can help with fine-tuning your investor deck, vetting meeting candidates, making introductions, analyzing benefits/risks to alternative financing options and more, for the J.P. Morgan Conference and well beyond. Feel free to reach out for conversation about your company’s investor relations needs.

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