Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 1:21 pm | Fair 55º


Ina McGuinness a Pro at Helping Businesses Make Good Impression

As an investor relations consultant, her job is to ensure clients are putting their best foot forward

Founding a company has challenges, but grooming it for investors or an initial public offering demands a strategic and savvy investor relations hire. Ina McGuinness routinely unravels the mysteries of finding a financial suitor and preparing companies for the next stage of business — be it acquisition, offering or exit.

Raised in a Chicago suburb, McGuinness said she grew up listening to stories of rural business. Her father worked for a company that assessed distressed dairies and attempted to restructure and save them. He instilled in McGuinness the importance of knowing about finance and the elements of running a viable company.

McGuinness earned an accounting degree from Southeast Missouri State University, but she said she always intended to find an adjacent industry where a finance degree would be useful. Investor relations proved to be the perfect fit, as it combined her interest in finance with a communications job.

Beginning her career as an analyst at Wells Fargo Investment Advisors (now Barclays Global Investors Fund), McGuinness then joined the Investor Responsibility Research Center, (now RiskMetrics) in Washington, D.C., where she wrote articles and research reports on corporate governance for the investment community. At IRRC, she also monitored corporate actions of interest to institutional investors, including executive compensation trends, Securities and Exchange Commission regulations and the impact on mergers, acquisitions and restructurings.

Next, McGuinness took a position screening companies to meet socially responsible criteria at Working Assets Capital Management in its early funding stage. She looked at levels of pollution, minority board membership and environmental consciousness, among other factors.

“We had a focus on good corporate governance before it was en vogue,” she said. “Twenty years ago, it was unusual for a company to care about such things.”

While her client base has focused primarily on health care and clean technology, McGuinness said the principles of investor relations are consistent across various vertical markets. As for what to look for when hiring an IR consultant, McGuinness suggests asking about the competition as well as inquiring about how your company’s messages resonate.

“They tell your story to institutional investors and finance reporters, so you want to know they are solid and aligned with your corporate messaging,” she said.

McGuinness also said that while many variables influence a company’s valuation, it’s best to come up with milestones to measure the success of an IR campaign.

“A seasoned IR professional can recalibrate as changes invariably happen and effectively communicate to the financial press,” she said, adding that when taking a road trip, “you leave with a mapped route, but there may be weather, road closures, low fuel issues. You have to take these factors into account and adjust to reach your destination.”

After living in Washington and San Francisco, McGuinness said she knows she can live anywhere and work remotely with clients. She frequently travels with her clients as they meet with investors or media, but the day-to-day work can be done from her home office via phone and Web. For those executives meeting with media and investors, she has four suggestions: Give a road map for the talk; be concise and present only three to five key messages that are woven through the presentation; let the audience follow up with questions; and rehearse with staff.

McGuinness is a frequent moderator of educational audio and Webinar seminars for Bulldog Reporter’s Investor Relations University. Recent topics have included “More Powerful IR Presentations,” “Activist Investor Update for IR” and “What Institutional Investors Want to Hear from Small and Mid-Cap CEOs.”

The most popular topic of late has been social media. She said that while she agrees Twitter used well is a low-cost, effective way to raise brand awareness, she notes that publicly held companies must adhere to more stringent communication policies (fair disclosure), so tweeting and Facebook messages must pass a higher legal muster.

McGuinness’ target clients are seeking support with mergers and acquisitions, exit strategies, a pending IPO or those looking for a round of venture capital.

Noozhawk contributor Jenn Kennedy can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to see more of her work. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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