Most investor events to remain virtual this year, study finds

May 10, 2021
As corporate access desks prepare to test the waters with small in-person events, most banking conferences will be virtual this year, according to a new survey

While some investment banks are preparing for a tentative return to small in-person events in the coming months, the majority of investor events will likely continue to be held virtually this year, according to a study conducted by OpenExchange.

Three out of four investor conferences during the second half of 2021 will be entirely virtual, according to OpenExchange’s survey of 139 decision-makers at 30 financial institutions.

As of May 10, Barclays is the bank that has the earliest advertised in-person event – scheduled for May 18 in London – but the listing includes a disclaimer that the event may be converted into a virtual format. JPMorgan and Credit Suisse both have in-person events listed in June, again with the caveat that they may proceed as virtual events, while Cowen and Raymond James have in-person events planned for August.

Two thirds of respondents to OpenExchange’s survey say they have already started sourcing hotel and event venues for investor conferences. The key considerations for returning to in-person events include safety of attendees, adhering to social distancing requirements and navigating travel limitations. 

One of the big questions corporate access desks face is whether to stick to the virtual format for the time being, host small in-person events or attempt a hybrid event. IR Magazine has talked to several corporate access professionals who are unconvinced by hybrid conferences, noting that if attendees travel for a conference and half of their one-on-ones are virtual, they may question why they took the time to travel.

But OpenExchange’s survey suggests many financial institutions are preparing for hybrid events, with one third of respondents expecting to hold their first hybrid investor conference by October and two thirds by the end of the year.

Nearly 70 percent of investor events are projected to be either hybrid or virtual in 2022, and 58 percent of events may have a virtual component in 2023.

‘While the conference landscape remains uncertain, major banks tell us that the hybrid format – where organizers open events to both virtual and in-person attendees – will become the new normal for the foreseeable future as we emerge from the impacts of the pandemic,’ says Mark Loehr, CEO of OpenExchange, in a statement.

OpenExchange says it hosted 514 virtual conferences between April 2020 and March 2021, consisting of more than 117,000 virtual meetings.

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