Investor communications 101

How to keep your investors informed, involved and up-to-date, according to Alister Esam, founder of eShare

Every new round of funding you complete is in reality, not the end of a journey, but the beginning of a new one. It brings with it a fresh set of challenges, not least of which is having to develop new working relationships with your investors.

This can be a testing period – many entrepreneurs have been in sole control of their business and there is inevitably a loosening and sharing of that control. Even when investors are smart, seasoned and are looking to help grow and protect their investment, their input isn’t always what the executive wishes to hear.

The key to maintaining good relationships with investors – of which there could be many, in different companies, location, countries and even continents – lies in strong and effective lines of communication. Here’s why it is so important and how best to go about it.

Good comms at the heart of good business

Keeping investors informed and up-to-date is an integral new element of business that a newly-funded business has to address. With ‘outsiders’ having invested in a company, the founders don’t have the same level of control they enjoyed before, and if they do not recognise the need for open communication with investors, that is when problems can arise.

Providing investors with ad-hoc and insubstantial updates can not only be a source of conflict, but it also precludes the founders from benefitting from the investors’ knowledge and experience. A major concern for non-executives directors or investors would be a change of direction or strategy without their knowledge or input, which is why on-going communication is so important.

Regular updates to investors – whether it is via an email from the founder, or a more general newsletter, keeping non-executives updated in between scheduled meetings keeps them informed, allows them to be more engaged in the business and allows any scheduled meetings to have more focus.

Investors can respond to issues in a timely way and this avoids nasty surprises at board meetings. These can hamper productivity, collaboration and effectiveness, and if investors do not have all the information required to participate effectively in a meeting, it is easy to eat into the allocated meeting time when bringing them up-to-date.

More effective board meetings – once the meetings are underway, with investors and non-executives gathered from different businesses and different locations, it becomes important to make the best possible use of this time.

We’ve all been in meetings where people carry reams of unread documentation with them, so by replacing paper-based board packs with an online board portal it can make for a significantly more productive meeting. Attendees have all the information they need – before, during and after the meeting – and can access that via their iPad or smartphone. For busy investors, that travel a lot and have a varied portfolio of investments, this is the most effective way of approaching a meeting.

Having all supporting materials at their fingertips will mean investors will feel more prepared, and will be able to recall previous meetings, decisions and discussions with ease. It will also prevent investor meetings becoming drawn-out.

Stay organised and secure with confidential information – sometimes when a firm has scaled rapidly and attracted funding, it can find that processes which worked fine before are not quite as effective now. Organisation is key, and being able to find previous reports and documents should investors require them is good practice to follow.

It might even be advisable to provide access to your investors and non-executives, so they can find information themselves. Given the sensitive nature of communications with investors, with financial information and strategy discussed at meetings, it is much easier to keep secure and private when this is all managed digitally.

Attracting funding is a major step for any firm, but communication with investors becomes hugely important. Do it well, and you can benefit from the expertise and experience they have, but do it badly and it can set relations back a long way.

Alister Esam is the CEO of eShare.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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