Q&A with Bradley Scott, Associate Director at SNL IR Solutions
Q: How do your financial tools and financial data offerings differ from competitive services?
A: To analyze certain industries effectively, you need more than a generalist information provider. Generalists give you basic financials, news and broker reports, but SNL combines such ground-floor information with sector-specific metrics and values that describe the companies and industries we cover, plus data on key assets, mapping tools, regulatory insight and more. We integrate exclusive news, data and analytics on an interactive platform that is as easy to use as it is powerful.
Q: In addition to providing financial sector data, SNL creates custom websites. Why should a company select SNL IR Solutions?
A: We’ve found that our clients really value SNL’s more holistic approach to online investor relations, which centers around the idea that IR websites should be an extension of the conversation clients have with their shareholders. 10-Qs and 8-Ks don’t paint the whole picture, and investors are looking for that something extra that makes a company stand out from its peers. IR sites should offer more than standardized filings; they should tell the company’s unique financial story to the investment community.
For this reason, we’ve built an IR website product that not only keeps our clients in regulatory compliance, but supports their individual strategic goals for investor communication. We can utilize a large portion of the data we collect for our financial information platform to power those websites, which allows our clients to benefit from the same data that thousands of investment professionals use and trust on a daily basis.
Q: In which sector are you experiencing the greatest growth, and why?
A: Over the past couple of years, we’ve actually been experiencing our greatest growth in sectors outside of those that SNL covers from a database perspective. We’ve also found that many of these companies have found tremendous value in our more consultative approach to IR website management. The combination of vast array of datasets (even outside of SNL’s “covered” sectors), an advanced platform that supports cutting edge web technology and mobile support, and an attentive and proactive support team to help guide IROs on IR web best practices, creates a very compelling offering for companies of all sizes in any industry.
We’ve also seen a lot of growth outside of SNL’s “covered” industries due to our inclusion as a preferred IR website provider for NYSE-listed companies. Through this partnership, we’ve been able to introduce our IR products and services to many companies that had previously been limited in their options for IR web hosting.
Q: Partnerships appear to be a key part of your business. How do you select your partners and what benefits have these partnerships delivered to you and your customers?
A: Partnerships have indeed been incredibly important and valuable to the growth and continued success of SNL’s IR business. Since we started hosting IR websites in 2001, we’ve focused on supplementing the services we provide with others that are critical to the IR function, including conference calls and webcasting, shareholder targeting and surveillance, contact management, and governance and whistleblower tools. We feel that by aligning ourselves with experts in these areas (Chorus Call, Ipreo, and Ethical Advocate), we can offer our clients a complete IR package with top-of-the-line services
Q: Can you share a specific story of how your products helped a customer?
A: Absolutely – very recently we worked with one of our clients, W.P. Carey, to help redesign and optimize their IR website to meet some very specific goals around investor engagement. Specifically, our client wanted to increase the amount of time users spent on the IR website, and drive more traffic to the company’s annual report.
The process began with an annual site audit in which we worked with W.P. Carey to identify areas for improvement around site navigation and content display. Before making changes, we took a baseline assessment of user traffic through our site analytics tool. After a few months and a site redesign, we went back to look at the analytics to assess how the changes impacted the way investors were using the website.
The results were fantastic and in-line with what we had outlined initially – a 51% YoY increase in Annual Report views, a 17% QoQ increase in length of browsing session, and a 15% QoQ decrease in the website bounce rate.
Q: How do you incorporate customer feedback into your products and solutions?
A: Gathering feedback from our clients and acting upon it has been the life-blood of SNL since it was first incorporated in 1988 and the IR Solutions business is no exception. After every interaction between our support team and a client, we send a brief 3-question survey encouraging clients to rate us on the speed and quality of the interaction, as well as their likelihood to recommend us to a colleague. On average, nearly ⅓ of these surveys are returned, and more than 99% of those responses rate us as an 8 out of 10 or higher in all three categories.
We also survey our client base periodically with respect to enhancements they’d like to see added to the product, and these responses, along with the trends we see emerging in the industry, play a vital role in our product development priorities.