Takeaways from Our 2019 IR Leadership Conference

November 4, 2019

There’s lots to unpack over the next few weeks, so here it goes…

Back in mid-September, we hosted our annual IR Leadership Conference in Boston, the only event in #MuniLand focused exclusively on best practices around investor outreach. This is our opportunity each year to facilitate the direct engagement between issuers and bond investors, and to spur dialogue on timely issues that are impacting the bond market. 

For our 2018 event, we focused on core IR best practices, including some legal and regulatory panels as well as practical advice from corporate IR professionals. The speakers reflected that focus, and included Rebecca Olson from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nixon Peabody bond attorney Dan Deaton, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ VP for IR Michael Partridge. 

For 2019, we moved the IR conversation a little more downstream. For example, Tom Vales of TMCBonds/ICE and Richard Carter of Fidelity Investments spoke about the growing importance of electronic trading in the municipal bond market. We dug into the criteria development process for factors like issuer transparency with the heads of public finance at S&P, Moody’s and Kroll Ratings. The event was capped with an issuer-investor roundtable discussion on the growing importance of ESG, with the dialogue led by Breckinridge’s Adam Stern, Fundamental Advisors’ Hector Negroni, and MarketAxess’ Steve Winterstein. 

Tom Paolicelli discusses Investor Relations best practices for issuers

We packed a lot into a single day but the open dialogue and practical feedback from investors was excellent. Our issuers left the event armed with actionable tips to help their bond programs stand out to investors. 

Here a few notable takeaways from the 2019 summit:

  • Electronic trading in fixed income generally is rapidly approaching the levels seen in equities, and #MuniLand is no exception. Over the course of 2017 & 2018, of the $1 trillion in par of municipal securities traded in inter-dealer trades, 29% were executed on an ATS. A lot of these trades are happening in the secondary market, but the primary market is also relevant with retail platforms like Fidelity.com and Schwab.com. There are clear steps issuers can take to ensure their bond sale is set-up better to do well when it comes to electronic trading. We’ll have some follow-up to this in the coming weeks; and
  • ESG has quickly become a big deal with investors.This is the logical evolution of the “Green Bond” movement, and it continues to gain importance with buyers. Our investor panel on this topic highlighted the importance of issuers capturing ESG in their disclosure, and using technology to provide photos, project updates, and environmental impacts of key projects.

We also used the 2019 conference to announce a number of exciting developments, including new product features and partnerships. We’ll focus on those in more follow-up posts to the Fisc, so stay tuned in the coming weeks!

Colin MacNaught

BondLink CEO & Co-Founder