British Land recruits Hays IRO

Nov 03, 2017
Q&A with David Walker, deputy chairman of the UK’s IR Society, who moved from recruitment to real estate

Property developer British Land has appointed David Walker as its new head of IR.

A former corporate broker for Deutsche Bank, Walker first moved into IR when he joined FTSE 250 recruitment firm Hays as IR and M&A manager. Ten months later he was promoted to head of group corporate development and IR, a position he has held for the past six years.

The chartered accountant, who started his career at PwC, also served as a board member of the UK’s IR Society from 2013 to 2016, and is currently the association’s deputy chairman.

Walker has been credited with the success of the Hays IR team’s technology endeavors: the firm was an early adopter of Twitter, with its IR-dedicated handle displaying nearly 700 followers. Hays also won the award for best IR website at the IR Magazine Awards – Europe 2017.

IR Magazine: How is your new team set up?

David Walker: I joined British Land as head of IR and work alongside an existing team of three, with two IR managers and an IR co-ordinator. We sit within the finance function and report to the group CFO.

As a FTSE 100/FTSE 250 IRO, which topic has been top of mind for you: Brexit or Mifid II?

Both have certainly been on my mind, though I am not sure I’d equate the potential implications of Brexit with those of Mifid II (as impactful as the latter may be on our world in IR)! One of the interesting things I’ve found about moving roles and changing sectors is that so many of the issues, themes and trends management teams are grappling with are the same.

I’ve moved from recruitment to real estate, two very different businesses in many respects, yet this has been immediately evident to me, whether it’s topical issues such as the potential impact of Brexit, or more long-term structural changes such as new and evolving technologies or the changing ways in which people are choosing to work – or indeed more specific IR-related things such as Mifid II. The impact (and the scale of the impact) may be different – it may be that an issue is positive for one sector and a potential negative for another and you potentially have to approach things from a different perspective – but the themes themselves are in many ways consistent.

What are the plans for British Land’s IR program in 2018?

I’m lucky to have joined a team and business that are already very engaged and well regarded in terms of the IR team and program, so in many ways it’ll be a focus on doing more of the same. We’ll continue to be proactive and responsive to analysts and investors, and look to maximize opportunities to broaden the understanding of our business by getting in front of people and update them on the investor story. In addition to our standard program, we’ll be holding a few investor showcase events and teach-ins on specific issues as the year progresses. Overall the calendar looks busy already and it’s something I’m really excited to have the opportunity to help with.

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