The 2018 Code promotes an inclusive approach to stakeholder engagement and encourages boards to reflect on the way in which decisions are taken and how that might affect the quality of those decisions. It encourages a broad focus and a willingness to listen to different voices and influences, and supports openness and accountability in delivering long-term sustainable success. In that spirit, the Group is committed to engaging in open and honest dialogue with its stakeholders including its investors as shown below by some of the Board activities undertaken in the year, such as hosting the Capital Markets Day.
The Chairman takes responsibility for ensuring that all directors are aware of any issues and concerns that major investors may have and also ensures that appropriate engagement mechanisms are maintained and kept under review so that they remain effective. In that realm, the Group maintains the following mechanisms to ensure ongoing effective and robust engagement with its investors:
- meetings with major investors to discuss what matters to them;
- the Capital Markets Day;
- the Annual Reports and Accounts;
- the Annual General Meeting (AGM);
- stock exchange announcements (RNS) and press releases;
- a dedicated investor relations team;
- investor roadshows;
- the Corporate Responsibility Report; and
- the Investors section of the Group website.
The Chairman and the Board believe that regular engagement provides investors with an opportunity to discuss particular areas of interest and raise any concerns. The Group is committed to effectively communicating its plans and understanding investors’ views on its overall strategy and performance. In turn, this enables our investors and investment analysts to formulate a strong understanding of our purpose, strategy, performance and culture.
In addition to the above activities, our dedicated investor relations team maintains a planned IR Programme throughout the year that ensures active ongoing dialogue with our investors. Other investor engagement activities during the year include the following:
- The Annual Report – This is the most significant engagement tool that is intended to show investors that the Board has set the Company’s purpose and strategy; and how the Board activities focused on meeting its objectives and achieving outcomes through the decisions it has taken. Most importantly, this enables investors to evaluate our approach to governance arrangements with all information at hand.
- The Group website – The Group website provides investors with timely information on the Group’s strategy and performance as well as any other key Board activities. It also provides investors with details regarding the composition of the Board, up-to-date financial information, regulatory news and all released RNS, together with detail regarding how the Group meets its Code obligations.
- Investor days – As shown above, the Group held a Capital Markets Day which outlined the Board’s Vision for the Future and continuing to deliver for the underserved. These events are a key engagement tool with our key investors to hear their views and communicate the plans, risks and opportunities facing the Group.
- Investor/analyst meetings – The Group takes a proactive approach by inviting investors and analysts to meet with divisional senior management and to visit operational facilities.
- US and European roadshow programmes – The Group is dedicated to facilitating necessary access for overseas investors to management, enabling them to receive the same access to information as investors in the UK. Roadshows are usually attended by the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Finance Officer and the Head of IR. The Group did not undertake overseas roadshow activity in 2019 due to defending the unsolicited offer from NSF and preparation for the Capital Markets Day in November 2019. The Group plans to resume overseas roadshows in 2020.
- Attending broker conferences – Management regularly attends and presents at various conferences hosted by brokers to ensure visibility and accessibility by a wide variety of investors, including those from different geographies. Attendance at broker conferences was limited to attendance at the Goodbody conference in Dublin in November 2019 but the Group plans to increase attendance in 2020.
- Corporate Responsibility Report (CR Report) – The CR Report offers investors a clear and comprehensive insight into the Group’s Blueprint and its social purpose of providing financial inclusion for those who are underserved and also highlights the Group’s contribution towards reducing carbon emissions to protect our climate.
- Shareholder correspondence – The Group is committed to engaging and responding to all investor queries within two working days of receipt of correspondence.
- Perception audit – Designed to obtain formal independent feedback from investors and sell-side analysts. This enables management to consider and respond to any concerns in the investment community. The Group did not undertake an investor perception audit in 2019 as management was heavily engaged with shareholders through defending the unsolicited offer from NSF and it was considered appropriate to undertake the Capital Markets Day in November 2019 before obtaining feedback. Following a competitive tender process, the Group has now engaged a new independent third party to conduct the next investor perception audit which is scheduled in the first half of 2020 and will obtain feedback on both the Capital Markets Day and performance in 2019 as well as strategy, management and communication.