What are the IR Society Best Practice Awards Awards?
The annual awards have run for over two decades and are a celebration of companies that wish to demonstrate their commitment to leading investor communications. This important Society initiative is regularly reviewed by the Best Practice Committee and represents an integral part of the Society’s mandate to promote best practice in IR.
What are the benefits and why should I enter?
The business environment is challenging, recognition is scarce, time is short and entering our awards is an opportunity to demonstrate what a major difference each one of us can make to the companies we represent. Benefits of entering include:
- Evidence excellence – to win or to be shortlisted, shows that you have reached the very highest standard, as judged by leading experts
- Raise your profile – with your peers, internal and external stakeholders, strengthening your corporate reputation
- Make your company proud - it’s a great recognition for all the hard work, commitment and dedication that goes in every day
- Reflect on your work – the process of entering the awards often helps one to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your organisation’s communications strategies and provides a springboard of ideas on what to focus on for the future
- Incentive to improve - the competitive nature of the Awards provides an opportunity to challenge the internal ‘status quo’
How many different awards are there?
There are up to five Self-entry Award categories (see below for an overview of each Award):
• Best Communication of Sustainability
• Best Innovation in IR
• Best Corporate Website
• Best Annual Report
• Best IR Programme
There are up to four Voted Award categories with input from Institutional Investor Surveys:
• Best Newcomer to IR (individual)
• Best Investor Relations Officer (individual)
• Best Overall Company IR (company)
• Best Investor Engagement (buy-side firm)
For both the ‘Best company IR’ and ‘Best IRO’ awards we will recognise individual winners across the Small-, Mid- and Large-cap categories, to encourage and promote best practice across all company sizes.
Who can enter?
The awards are open to all listed companies in the UK, continental Europe and Global ex Europe under the five main categories for the Self-entry Awards. We have simplified the categories of the companies into Small-cap, Mid-cap and Large-cap with all international companies integrated into company size rather than separately as had been done before 2022. Small-cap, Mid-cap and Large-cap criteria will be comparable to FTSE 100, 250 and Small-cap/AIM market cap sizes as at March 31, 2023.
Listed companies must be quoted on a recognised stock exchange.
Please note for the ‘Best Communication of Sustainability’ award, we also have a Private Company category, which companies across all sizes can enter.
How do I enter the Self-entry Awards and how long does it take?
Companies/agencies can enter as many awards as they wish. Just access and complete the self-entry form that contains the awards criteria and guidance notes for each award you wish to enter. The process for our self-entry awards is an easy-to-use entry form that gives the company an opportunity to share their approach to the award and to highlight what works for them and their audience(s). Potentially, this should be an important opportunity to differentiate your company and investor communications for your target audience(s).
Once completed, your entry form can be submitted online along with any additional supporting information and payment. All in all, your submission, including the entry-form should take no more than a couple of hours to complete.
What is the difference between the Self-entry awards and the Voted Awards?
The Self-entry Awards require a company and/or its agency to submit an entry on the prescribed entry form provided by the IR Society. This information can all be found online on the IR Society website: www.irsociety.org.uk
The Voted Awards, run in partnership with Institutional Investor (II), generally address a large buy- and sell-side audience who vote for their preferred companies/IROs under each category. The winner for each category will be determined by the most number of votes. For more information and the methodology please visit: www.iiresearch.com
When do the Self-entry and Voted award entries open for 2023?
The 2023 Best Practice Self-entry Awards launched on 3 May 2023. Nominations for the Voted Awards open on 11 April 2023. Voting is open to investors and the broker universe and all new contacts will be verified and assessed for their eligibility to participate in the survey.
What is the deadline for award entries?
The 2023 Best Practice Self-entry Awards entries will close on 31 August 2023. The Voted awards nominations will close on 12 May 2023.
Is there a word limit to entries?
There is a 500 - 1000 word limit on entries which can be found on the awards criteria and entry forms. This is to ensure responses are concise, keeping in mind individual awards descriptions and considerations, paying particular attention to what the judges are looking for.
• Best Communication of Sustainability – 1000 words
• Best Innovation in IR - 800 words
• Best Corporate Website – 800 words
• Best Annual Report – 500 words
• Best IR Programme - 800 words
When will the shortlists and winners be announced?
The short lists for both the Self-entry and Voted awards will be announced in October, at least a month before the IR Society Annual Awards dinner on 21 November taking place in a new venue for the IR Society in central London, when the winners are announced.
If my company is international, but listed on the UK Stock Exchange, which category should I enter for?
We have adapted the categories for companies across all regions to enter into the Small-cap, Mid-cap and Large-cap categories. All entries will be integrated into the relevant category depending on size. Please note Small-cap, Mid-cap and Large-cap criteria will be comparable to FTSE 100, 250 and Small-cap/AIM market cap sizes as at March 31, 2023.
What does the judging process for the Self-entry entail? Who are the judges?
Entries for the Self-entry Awards are judged by a panel of esteemed investor relations and investment community professionals with significant expertise in the area they are judging.
In 2020 we introduced a new independent Chair of the judging panel, Paul Lee, and the judging panel includes industry professionals, investors, academics, professional bodies, regulators and other interested parties who make up our IR community. We aim to add to the panel each year and a full list appears on the IR Society website.
In order to short-list each Award for submission to the judging panel, all entries are scored against the criteria set out in the self-entry forms, which are based on the Society’s guidelines for best practice in investor communications. The scoring of entries is completed on both a qualitative and quantitative basis.
We also receive expert input from independent third parties, including Alliance Manchester Business School and Lancaster Management School, for example.
What if my company’s annual report isn’t published until after the deadline – am I eligible to enter?
All entries need to have been published before the entry deadline of 31 August 2023. Any entries for Best Annual Report, and Best Communication of Sustainability, should be accompanied by a digital copy of the relevant annual report and any other supporting documentation by 31 August 2023. Please highlight the relevant URLs for judges to consider. You can still enter even if your company’s report is inaccessible online. However, to assist with the judging process, please indicate in your entry the pages or sections of your annual report, website or investor presentations where key information is covered/ can be found, and you can specify the date when the report will go live, including, within reason, if this occurs after 31 August 2023.
Have there been any changes to the Awards this year?
Through the work of the Best Practice committee we continually review and adapt our awards criteria in line with current best practice. This year we have refined and reviewed our Self-entry Awards to ensure they reflect any changes in regulation and current best practice. See below for an overview of each Self-entry Award.
What should I consider for Best Innovation in IR award?
With this category, the Society is seeking examples of innovation, transformation, and modernisation which has taken place over the last 12 months. The objective of this Award is to recognise and encourage continuous development and improvement in our industry. This may be through a change in your communications and engagement strategy, internally and externally, development of new processes, improved insight and intelligence, or adoption of new technology.
What is the Best Investor Engagement award?
This is under the Voted Awards and addresses the importance of the target audience that IR seeks to engage. This award will be decided by the most number of votes by company IROs for an investor/buy-side firm that the IR community believes represents the best in investor engagement with companies. The process for nominations follows the same timeline as other Voted Awards.
Is there an overview of the five Self-entry Awards?
Best Communication of Sustainability
We recognise that this is a rapidly evolving area for many companies and each will be at different stages of their journey. We would like to see businesses demonstrate how internal approaches are being adapted to meet evolving needs of their stakeholders in relation to the company’s externalities.
The judges are looking for evidence of how inputs on matters integral to the company’s long-term resilience are gathered, assessed and acted on; what information is shared with the board; how the resulting decisions become part of the company’s strategic objectives and are tracked on an ongoing basis at the business.
• Explain how your sustainability strategy has been integrated in the company’s long-term value proposition, and how have you reflected this approach in your investor communications.
• Articulate how you have engaged with wider stakeholders in the year to ensure you understand their priorities.
• Demonstrate how you have measured the effectiveness of your communications of sustainability
Best Innovation in IR
The objective of this Award is to recognise and to encourage continuous evolution and improvement in our industry. Whilst there can only be one ultimate winner in each category, the IR Society will look to cite a greater number of nominations in this category, both at the Awards Dinner and beyond. All of those that enter will have demonstrated an example of innovation relative to their previous practice. They will be committed to driving the importance, efficiency and effectiveness of the profession, enabling it to reach new stakeholders and in turn hopefully attract a new generation of diverse talent.
Examples could include but are not limited to:
• Communicating and educating on the investment case or specific company message
• Internal development and processes
• Insight and intelligence
Best Corporate Website
A company’s website should be the definitive source of information for investors and this award will honour those companies which go the extra mile in meeting the many different needs of the global financial community.
The design, usability, functionality, accessibility and above all else, the content of the website and related materials will be the main areas of focus for the judges. They will assess how well the company uses the digital medium to communicate:
• The market dynamics and drivers of the main industries in which it operates
• An integrated investment case, which is clearly underpinned by the company’s value creation model, strategy and KPIs
• Company purpose/vision, values and how its leaders exemplify these in action
• An integrated approach to ESG
• Its ongoing performance, both through financial calendar reporting and in how it shows strategy in action across the year
• Any additional information provided which enhances an investor/analyst’s understanding of the company, its performance and future prospects
Best Annual Report
Best practice annual reports clearly articulate how the business differentiates itself and provides a ‘shop window’ into the company and its culture. Best-in-class annual reports tell a holistic story that clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of both the business model and strategy, whilst evidencing the strength of the leadership team, governance of the business and broader social purpose. Best practice considerations include:
• A forward looking, engaging, concise and entity-specific report
• Connectivity of information providing a holistic view of the business
• Clear links between strategy, KPIs, risk and remuneration
• An investment proposition that explains the growth drivers that promote long-term value
Best IR Programme
Evidence of effective implementation of an IR communications and engagement programme, that both reflects and supports the company’s purpose, vision and strategy.
The IR strategy should include and be supported by the following elements:
• A consistent and compelling investment proposition, underpinned by a clear and realistic strategic plan.
• Regular, consistent and transparent financial and non-financial disclosure of the company’s performance against its strategy and milestones (Annual Report, presentations, webcasts, transcripts, Q&A, historical publications, Ad Hoc releases, regulatory news, trading updates), accompanied by a Financial and Event Calendar with relevant links and information to enable easy access.
• Regular, proactive and transparent engagement with equity analysts to inform a fair company assessment and accurate guidance.
• IR engagement and outreach strategy with existing and new, institutional and retail investors, including roadshows, site visits, product launches and other events.
• A website that conveys a clear, substantive and timely picture of the company and serves as an interactive platform for delivery of its financial and wider material disclosure related to the company’s long-term value in society.
To view the complete criteria and entry forms for each of the Self-entry Awards please visit: www.irsocietyawards.org.uk
Where can I find out more information about the awards and past winners?
On the IR Society website, members can access Best Practice Guidelines, together with a review of the 2022 Best Practice Awards, including a summary of the entries, names of the judging panel, key highlights and comments from the judges on the 2022 award winners.
- Any other enquiries?