New auction site for IR services

May 17, 2011
<p> could transform the IR services procurement process by matching buyers with multiple sellers online</p>

Time is always precious. For IR professionals, however, it might seem that little bit more cherished recently, given the raft of new legislation being introduced as a consequence of the financial crisis. A new service that saves IR officers time – and money – is therefore likely to receive a warm welcome and become the new status quo in the multi-billion-dollar IR marketplace., an online procurement portal for investor relations services, promises to do just that. It’s an online marketplace where IR departments can post a message with what is known as a ‘request for proposal’ (RFP) explaining what service they are interested in, any particular requirements they have, and how much they would like to pay for it. Once completed, the RFP is sent out automatically to any relevant service provider registered with the site.

Service providers can then accept the offer at the stated price, tweak the specific requirements and/or price and send the message with an amended proposal in response. During the procurement process, IROs’ identities remain anonymous to protect them from receiving a barrage of unwanted sales pitches.

Current IR services procurement can be inefficient

The main benefits for IR professionals using are the budget savings a competitive bidding process creates, in addition to the tremendous amount of man hours saved that are normally spent communicating with individual service providers and wading through numerous sales pitches.

‘In the 10 years I’ve been working within the IR industry, there have been four major regulatory actions: Reg FD, SOX, e-proxy and now Dodd-Frank,’ says Bradley Smith, chief marketing officer at MUNCmedia, which developed

‘Each of these has exponentially added to the real-world material burden of the investor relations practitioner. Any tool that can save IROs time and dollars so they can remain focused on the strategic efforts of increasing shareholder value and assuring compliance is extremely valuable.’

Competitive pricing marketplace
Along with saving time, IROs will also have the opportunity to save money. provides an organized and easy way for companies to competitively shop and benchmark the amount they
are being charged against what else is available in the market.

Matt Bird,’s creator and CEO of MUNCmedia, emphasizes the tangible money savings of a real-time marketplace. ‘Generally speaking, highly commoditized services deliver the largest apples-to-apples competitive savings,’ he explains. simplifies 'buying and selling'

‘We’re projecting that competitive bidding across a larger pool of service providers will drive costs down by as much as 30 percent, perhaps even with incumbent vendors. That’s real money an IRO can apply to something else he or she needs within the IR department.’

Smaller companies with tight IR budgets will find the website highly valuable, predicts Bird. ‘Frankly, these small and micro-cap companies just can’t afford to be paying prime fees for IR services when many of them are struggling just to maintain compliance,’ he explains.

Benefits all round
Bird adds that service providers should also benefit from the new site. ‘For service providers, big and small, the platform is a level playing field where they can compete for market share as well as be introduced to a very receptive group of companies,’ he points out. ‘It’s ultimately a win-win for both the service provider and the public company. This is what marketplaces do.’

The IR services industry has undergone significant consolidation over the past few years, leaving a smaller pool of established vendors offering a broader range of services. While there can be benefits to receiving a number of services in a bundled package, allows issuers to tailor the services they need at prices they are comfortable with.

‘IROs will easily find the exact services they need at the budget they define on,’ states Bird. ‘They’ll build their own value-priced bundle across the worldwide IR vendor marketplace.

Also, most service providers have cut their marketing budget, making it difficult for IR newbies to know where to procure services – will provide an ideal starting place, as the central marketplace for any and all IR service providers.’

In order to get the ball rolling, has been preloaded with around 700 service providers from around the world. Service providers are invited to call to verify their information, including category listings and contact details. There is no fee for issuers or service providers to register on the site.

Once an agreement is reached between two parties, receives sales commission from the vendor, as is the case with other online marketplaces. It’s recommended that IROs register with the site before they are in need of a new service provider, in order to familiarize themselves with the RFP process.

Online marketplaces have revolutionized the way people buy consumer goods online, leading to more choice and better value., it is hoped, will do the same for the IR services industry.

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