The CEO and CFO are the public faces of any company. After all, they are primarily responsible for delivering the organization’s message during earnings calls and investor presentations and interacting with investors during road shows.
However, no great company is comprised solely of just two C-level execs, regardless of how talented they are. The importance of maintaining a solid management team below the CEO and CFO — quality operating officers and division heads, for example — cannot be overstated.
Your investor presentation is one of the first things that investors and analysts look for (along with SEC filings) when trying to get up to speed on your company. It’s often the first chance to tell your story in a crafted manner.
In other words, it’s crucial.
An effective deck contains a clear communication of management’s vision, the company’s market opportunity, its competitive advantages, and its growth strategy.
Thousands of public companies have just released their quarterly earnings and held those dreaded earnings calls — far more dreaded for those whose numbers missed estimates. While they’re not much fun for anyone, it can’t be overstated how important earnings calls are for your reputation as a leader and for the prospects for your stock.
The call is your chance to communicate your story to the world, to put your perspective formally into the public record. And it’s your investors’ and analysts’ chance to seek clues about your future prospects. In short, the call is something you just can’t afford to mess up.
I worked on the sell side for seven years and I saw it all the time: Companies issuing material news — sometimes very good news — while failing to appreciate how the announcement would be received by a skeptical investor community.
As an executive, you want to minimize any negative reaction to your company’s latest update. That’s natural. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with accentuating the positive, it’s important to remember that sell-side analysts are trained to poke holes in your story. That’s their job, and most of them are very good at it.
Private firms face few regulations governing public statements, so communication missteps aren’t likely to violate laws and spur law enforcement actions.
For public companies, quite the opposite is true. There are legally binding rules in place, and a failure to comply with them can have serious consequences. As a result, it is vitally important that companies provide their employees with substantive training.
A CEO transition can be a time of great risk for a company’s stock as Wall Street attempts to determine all that the change signals. If a change in leadership is not communicated properly it could make your investors nervous. Effectively communicating the CEO succession can help boost confidence in investors — and prevent long term harm to your share price.
Here are a few guidelines to help effectively communicate a CEO transition:
Even great companies with excellent management teams will face the inevitable challenge of having to communicate bad news to Wall Street. In a previous blog post, my colleague Tom McDonald discussed how to handle missing a quarter, but what about other results that can have a material impact on your business in the future?
In the healthcare industry, a number of things can go awry — a clinical trial that doesn’t meet your primary endpoint, a setback in your product’s regulatory approval process, a change in reimbursement policy, or a delay in your product launch date due to a manufacturing issue. Effectively communicating these scenarios with the Street can mitigate adverse reactions to your company’s reputation — and to your share price.
Management teams often hear this advice when communicating with Wall Street — under promise, over deliver. While under promising and over delivering is one of the most effective ways your company can build trust and credibility with the Street, it is much easier said than done.
Why are trust and credibility so important? In large part, the long-term value of your stock hinges on how Wall Street feels about your company and how much they can trust what your management team says. Yet building trust doesn’t come easily, and promising more than can be delivered happens to companies of all sizes and stature.