It's good to be an IRO

Aug 06, 2012
<p>EMR survey reveals quiet market and bias toward in-house positions</p>

An IR job is a safe haven – relatively speaking, of course – according to the investor relations talent management and salary survey, which is conducted annually by UK-headquartered recruitment consultancy EMR. 

More than three quarters of the 480 IR professionals surveyed feel secure or very secure in their role, which is unexpected given the morose economic climate. On the other hand, nearly half of them have a negative outlook on the economy.

EMR’s principal consultant Andrea Abbate describes the IR job market as ‘stagnant’, with 63 percent of companies reporting no headcount growth in their IR department over the past year. In addition, more and more companies are choosing to hire new employees on a temporary-to-permanent basis, reflecting their need for flexibility amid financial uncertainty. 

Hiring has been slightly more active in the corporate access arena and at IR and PR consultancies, as companies address their need to broaden their shareholder base and agencies win new accounts. There is, however, a net predilection for in-house roles, with only 3 percent of respondents citing a preference for working at an agency.

One reason is that in-house IROs are paid significantly higher salaries and bonuses than their agency counterparts. The survey indicates that IROs with seven to 10 years’ experience will receive a base salary of £91,000 to £130,000 ($142,000 to $202,000) with a 30 percent to 39 percent bonus, while agency employees with equivalent experience will receive less than half that figure.

Another reason highlighted is the access for in-house IROs to board-level discussions. IR is perceived by nearly half of respondents as a good stepping stone onto the board. IROs also appreciate the advisory aspect of their role inside the company, which makes them ‘feel valued and comfortably challenged’.

More than 80 percent of the professionals surveyed plan a long-term career in IR, up from 65 percent in 2010. But if IR remains a lucrative business, it is also a time-consuming one: half of all respondents work 46-50 hours a week.                                     

The typical respondent to the survey works in central London, is degree-qualified, comes from an accountancy or corporate communications background, has been in the profession for four to six years, works in-house at a managerial level or higher, and is employed permanently.

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