by Nicole Lee Comments (84)

Investor Relations: The Best Path to Getting a Life, Securing Stability and a Solid Paycheck, and Going Benefit Hopping on Friday Nights?

investor_relations_the_best_path_to_getting_a_life_1Bored of working 100 hour weeks? About to break up with your significant other because he / she barely sees you?

One solution is to quit and become a ski bum.

Another is to go work at a normal company and get better hours in corporate development, corporate finance, and yes, also Investor Relations – one area that has generated lots of comments and questions over the years.

Today’s interviewee is an Investor Relations Manager at a Fortune 500 company in Asia – and he’s worked in similar roles at another company in the region over the past 6 years.

Here’s what we convinced him to share with you:

  • How to break into Investor Relations
  • What you do in IR and how it’s different from investment banking and corporate finance
  • The structure and hierarchy within IR and the different roles available
  • Interview questions you might encounter in your IR interviews
  • Exit opportunities if you decide you want to go back to those 100-hour workweeks

Pitching to Investors: It’s All About the Story

Q: So how’d you get started? Did you know you wanted to do Investor Relations since you were a kid?

A: Nope, it was much more random than that.

After graduating from a university in the UK with a major in IT and a minor in Economics, I began my career at a financial software firm as a Systems Analyst for a little over a year. And then I found my way into fund management and worked for a couple of leading global banking institutions, where I picked up my financial analysis skills.

After a few years at the financial institutions, I was a bit tired of the work and met up with a headhunter friend who suggested that I try working in the corporate world as an Investor Relations Manager for a mid-sized local company.

Q: That seems like a pretty random recommendation – IT to fund management to… IR?

What made her think that you were cut out for Investor Relations?

A: I think she realized that I was more of a “people person” and didn’t want to be crunching numbers in spreadsheets all day. I didn’t mind that as part of the job, but I wanted to do more than that – the long(ish) hours also didn’t help.

I worked in IR at the local company for a few years, and then moved over to a much bigger multinational firm to get more responsibility and higher pay – plus, I gained the opportunity to work with senior management, bigger banks, and institutional investors worldwide.

Investor Relations – Defined

Q: OK, so more exposure to executives, the buy-side, and more work outside of just number-crunching in Excel… sounds good so far.

What exactly do you do in Investor Relations at a normal company?

A: It depends on the level you’re at – just like with equity research, there’s less hierarchy than what you see in investment banking, but here are the 3 levels:

  • Business Analyst / Assistant IR Manager – Normally, a few years of experience in a finance-related field are required for this role.
  • IR Manager – This requires at least 5-6 years of experience.
  • IR Director – This takes more like 10 years of experience, and you report to the CFO at this level.

At a smaller company, you might have only 1 or 2 people in the Investor Relations department, so the hierarchy is compressed.

Also note that only public companies (or companies about to go public) actually need an IR department – if and when private companies deal with investors, the CFO handles most of it.

The IR Manager and IR Director focus on speaking with institutional investors from major buy-side houses and also research analysts from investment banks – they try to tell our company’s “story” effectively and make investors and analysts excited about the company, while also being truthful and giving accurate information.

As a junior person on the team (Analyst or Assistant IR Manager), you’re charged with producing weekly and monthly reports, following the markets and seeing what analysts and investors are saying, and putting together summaries for the senior management to review.

We also help with drafting the language for earnings announcements and with annual and interim reports (semiannually in Asia and quarterly in the US).

In addition, we also speak with other divisions to understand the entire company’s latest operations and answer questions from investors and analysts that call us.

Sometimes, management asks us to help with special projects and find information in areas they need for business development, or to find market data that they may get asked about at presentations or on earnings calls.

Q: So it sounds like there’s a lot of overlap with the corporate finance career path?

A: Yes and no. At a really small firm, some of these functions might be combined and the same person might perform some or all of them.

The main difference is that corporate finance deals more with the company’s internal finances, while investor relations is more about communicating with the external investment community.

You still need to understand and interpret the financial statements, but you don’t need to know as much about accounting, valuation, or modeling as someone in a traditional corporate finance role. And you would not be the one actually creating the financial statements for the company.

Overall, I’d say 30% of the role involves financial skills while the remaining 70% requires solid communication and presentation skills. Certifications like the CFA/CPA might help a bit, but are not necessary for the role.

Q: So are there any “standalone” Investor Relations firms? Or do you only see it internally at public companies?

A: Yes, there are some 3rd-party firms that companies can “outsource” IR work to – one example in Asia is irasia.

However, these firms mostly host events for listed companies and post documents for them, so they wouldn’t necessarily do everything that you do internally at a large public firm.

Then there are groups such as IR Magazine that host events in many major international financial centers.

But, the bottom-line: if you want to be in IR, you’ll be working at a decently-sized public company in most cases.

A Day in the Life

Q: OK, thanks for clarifying. So what’s an average day in your life like?

A: I usually get in at 9 AM and leave at around 7 PM (about 50 hours per week on average). My hours are fairly regular and I rarely work weekends, except for when a “major unexpected event” happens over the weekend.

If that happens, I’ll need to go back to the office to meet with the IR Director and senior management to figure out what we’re going to tell investors on Monday.

A “major unexpected event” might be a rumor or a leak on corporate activities in the news, a major company announcement to be made, or anything else you can think of.

One other point specific to Asia: Hong Kong-listed companies do not provide forecasts and EPS guidance in the same way US companies do, so we need to look at how the results we’re about to announce compare to Bloomberg consensus estimates or to those of individual analysts… and if they’re off, we need to explain why in the Q&A document we release.

If it’s a “normal day,” I start off in the morning by scanning through news sources such as the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Bloomberg, local newspapers, and research analyst reports from various investment banks.

I then alert senior management if I find any important news that they need to be aware of, and send over a brief one page summary. I also circulate it to other Senior Managers for their information as well.

Intermittently during the day, I also look at things like our own share price movement, competitors’ share price movements, major M&A or capital markets deals, industrial news, strategic partnerships, and anything else going on outside our own firm that needs to be reported to management in a timely manner.

After that, my tasks vary by the day – they might include:

  • Accompanying the IR Director or senior management to meet with investors from a major asset management firm or hedge fund that owns a stake in us or is considering acquiring one.
  • Reviewing interim financial statements, scanning for numbers that investors or analysts might ask about, and preparing responses to distribute to management.
  • Drafting presentations given at annual meetings and sitting down with senior management to rehearse answers to expected questions. It’s almost like prepping a management team for a roadshow before an IPO – and the IR team is always involved with roadshow process as well.

Q: It sounds like those tasks could create conflicts of interest – how do you get around that?

It must be tempting to tell research analysts, senior management, and investors different stories depending on what they want to hear.

A: Yes, it does require a skill set to handle these situations.

In IR, you have to be very cautious of how and what you communicate to the “external world.” You have to tell everyone – analysts, management, and investors – the exact same message that senior management conveys to the investment community to avoid any inconsistencies.

Q: Great, thanks for explaining that.

So why did you transition from a smaller firm to a bigger company? Was it just because of the pay?

A: Part of it was the pay, yes. The other issue is that in smaller corporates, it’s usually a “one-man band” operation. I was involved in investor relations, public relations, as well as some business development given the lack of resources.

While I learned a lot in that role, I was underpaid for the effort I put in and I felt like moving to a larger firm with more of a dedicated IR role would be better for me in the long-term.

Breaking In… At All Levels

Q: What’s the recruiting process like for Investor Relations?

A: The recruiting process is straightforward. At our firm, candidates go through 2 rounds of interviews: one with HR and the other with the Director of IR.

An interview usually lasts one hour, and the first round with HR involves the standard behavioral questions. The second round with the Director of IR involves more in-depth questions specific to the job, such as:

  1. Have you had interaction with fund managers and research analysts in your previous jobs? You don’t “need” to have experience speaking with investors and analysts in most cases, but having such experience will definitely be a plus.
  2. Can you deal with deadlines under pressure? We look for candidates who perform well under pressure and can multi-task, because there are a fair number of “unexpected events” and it’s always a rush right around earnings season.
  3. Do you have experience analyzing financial statements? We need candidates who know how to analyze financial statements so they can prepare reports for management, and so they can prepare answers to expected questions from investors and analysts.
  4. Do you have a background in IR and/or PR? Having such background is not crucial, but it is a plus.
  5. Have you written any reports to clients before? How strong are your writing skills? Having solid communication skills is crucial in this role, particularly for the more senior roles, where your job consists of talking to people and writing correspondence all the time.

You may get technical questions on accounting, valuation, and interpreting the financial statements, but they generally won’t be as in-depth as in banking or PE interviews.

Q: What about how to “tell your story” in IR interviews?

A: It depends on your background, but if you’re coming from investment banking the short version of your story might go something like this:

“I went into banking to gain the best all-around financial / analytical skill set and work on large-scale deals… but on one deal I was staffed on, I saw firsthand how the management team and some of our own team wasn’t quite telling the company’s ‘story’ properly and pitching them effectively, which made it difficult to get investors interested because of [Describe Why]…

I had ideas for how to improve upon those, but as an analyst I couldn’t implement them directly. But it made me more interested in a role such as IR where you leverage both the analytical and communication skills, and I started speaking with more and more people in the industry and learning more about it – in the future I want to take on that role for companies in [Industry X], and this role is a great way to get there.”

You need to highlight a specific instance where you saw a way to improve the company’s story and to use it to attract more/better investors.

Q: What kinds of candidates are they looking for? Do IR groups even recruit undergrads or MBAs?

A: Generally, no – we focus on candidates with at least a few years of experience in finance-related roles.

That experience could be almost anything, from investment banking to equity research to corporate finance or previous IR experience.

But most large companies do not recruit brand-new graduates for these roles.

Pay, Culture, and What to Do When Your “Relations” Go Bad – Exit Opportunities!

Q: So what’s the culture in IR like? Is it more “intellectual” like what you see in equity research, or more like what you see in banking or S&T?

A: It’s probably most similar to corporate finance because it’s quite bureaucratic and there are many levels of management, depending on the size of the company.

So don’t expect quick decisions or quick advancement.

Q: You’ve mentioned a few times that the pay is lower and that you were underpaid in your own role – what should you expect for compensation in Investor Relations roles?

A: First, let me just state that I can only speak to pay in Hong Kong because that’s where I’ve worked before.

I am assuming it will be different in North America, Europe, and other places, partially because taxes are much lower in HK.

Here are the approximate ranges I’ve seen:

  • Assistant IR Manager – 20K+ HKD / month (roughly $30K USD per year)
  • IR Manager – 40K+ HKD / month (roughly $60K USD per year)
  • IR Director – 1 million HKD / year (roughly $130K USD per year)

Q: Really? I’m a little skeptical because those numbers sound very low based on a quick search I did on Glassdoor and a few other sites.

Any thoughts?

A: Yes, as I said, a lot of it depends on the size of the company and the region you’re in.

If you’re at a Fortune 500 company in the US, the pay range might be anywhere from $100K USD to $700K USD based on surveys like the one described here.

And in developed markets, you might start out at more like $60K+ per year, as in other entry-level finance roles; it really depends on the size of the company and the team.

But there is a definite discount to the compensation that you’d receive in other fields.

Sure, you can still make it to the $150 – $200K+ range, but you won’t do it in only a few years as you might in banking or PE.

Of course, the trade-off is that your lifestyle is more controlled and you’re dealing with far less stress.

Job stability is also higher because they’re not going to cut the IR department if earnings fall – in fact, that’s when they need you the most!

Q: What are the most common exit opportunities? Are you more limited because it’s a specialized skill set?

A: Other than climbing up the ladder in IR, candidates usually work for another corporate in their IR division in the same capacity, or get promoted along the way.

Candidates who are outstanding and recognized in their work might possibly be invited to join a smaller corporate as a financial controller or CFO.

Better yet, candidates can look for start-ups who are about to go public and assist them in their initial public offering process. However, these cases are relatively rare, and most candidates usually stay within their same firm in IR and exit opportunities can be limited, unlike in IB.

You can move from ECM or fund-raising type roles on the buy-side into IR, but it’s quite rare to do the reverse, though I’m sure people have done it before.

Here’s an interesting example of how someone gets into IR: take a look at Wen Hsin Tong, who moved from IB to IR to Executive Chairman of the Board at Foxconn.

Q: Thanks for explaining that one. Based on everything we discussed so far, who would fit in best with the group?

A: Someone who wants job stability, regular hours, and who wants to build relationships with the investment community and fit in with the corporate culture.

There’s also the prestige factor involved if you are working for a multinational corporate because you work with a team of high-caliber senior executives – even as a junior-level person, you’ll have significant access to executives, which is pretty rare in any job.

So if you like that type of opportunity and you really enjoy working with seasoned executives, IR could be a great fit for you.

Q: Great. Thanks for your insights and your time!

A: Anytime, enjoyed the chat!


About the Author

Nicole Lee has been serving as an Executive Career & Networking Coach for senior professionals in investment banking, asset management, private equity, and global Fortune 500 companies since 2012.

She has helped 500+ candidates land finance roles at firms such as Morgan Stanley, Macquarie Capital, and UBS.

You can connect with her here.

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  1. Not expecting much as will be a recent grad- have experience in BB IB (Summer but didn’t convert) where I had some interaction with Research (due to earnings seasons and the info being crucial to several pitches).

    Nonetheless, if I were to apply for IR (or have aim to end up in IR) what’s the next best alternatives?

    1. Are you asking if IR is a good alternative if you did not receive a full-time IB offer? It’s better than nothing, but not really comparable to IB in terms of work/pay/exit opportunities. If you didn’t win an IB offer at this bank, it makes more sense to go for smaller banks or think about something else deal-related. IR is fine if you want to stay in IR or do fundraising work in the future.

  2. Have extensive internship experience in investment banking at tier 1s, currently have been an analyst in IBD for about a year, but looking into joining IR either in PE or corporate since wanted to try something else apart from the typical IBD->PE path. Theoretically, in this environment there should be still some hiring in IR departments however, linked in doesn’t seem to be showing too many. Do you have any advice on how to better explore the open opportunities? Is it worth emailing the companies about it despite not seeing the position open?

    1. Yes, at this point you’d probably just have to find specific companies, look up people in IR or corporate finance in those companies on LinkedIn, and then email them directly. The good news is they should be more responsive because unlike bankers, IR professionals do not have thousands of students emailing them each year.

  3. Avatar

    As a recently graduated student, with a Business degree majoring in finance and with little to no work experience, what would be your next recommended steps/ or course of action that I should focus on now in order to increase my chances of breaking into an IR role?

    For example, should I focus on developing my financial modeling and valuation skills, land an entry level role as a junior FP & A in in corporate finance and then apply to IR in 2-3 years or..?

    In addition, what are some entry-level roles within Corporate Finance or just Finance in general that I should seek to help provide me with exposure in regards to the skills and experience needed in IR? I live in Canada by the way.

    Thank you!

    1. Get work experience ASAP. Apply to FP&A or other corporate finance roles at any companies that are not affected by the current crisis. Please see:

  4. Hi there
    Im currently an undergrad and stumbled upon this thread through researching IR and trying to get background info. I’ve been told by a multitude of people (from professors to co-workers and supervisors) that I would do well in Investor/Investment Relations and careers alike.

    My question becomes what major(s) provide the best foundation/path for going into IR without simultaneously severely limiting my options(potentially PR major with Fin and Bus minor etc)?

    I guess I should add that my focus/goal up until now has been corporate financial law with deep studies in Hebrew, Russian and Arabic. I’ve also been involved in Speech and Debate for about 8 years now.
    *I currently don’t attend a target school but plan to for Law School, MBA etc.

    And for good measure, what fields could one look for applicable internships in?
    Thanks in advance for any answers or help and thanks for the already informative interview!!!

    1. Probably Finance/Accounting with a minor in something like Communications, PR, Literature, etc. The recommendations here apply: but for IR, you don’t need something as technical as Math/CS. It’s mostly accounting/finance knowledge with communication and sales skills. Equity research, asset management, or corporate finance internships would help with IR roles.

  5. Avatar
    Omar Ascha

    Do you think compensation for IR roles would be higher at large private equity firms/hedge funds vs corporate?

    1. Yes, almost certainly. Not sure of the exact numbers, but maybe check a private equity compensation report from the firms that issue them. Also, the numbers in the article are probably low because it was written ~5 years ago and salaries have increased since then.

  6. Hi, I was just offered a role as an IR Sr. Associate at a very prestigious HF. I’m currently in an ER development program (~2yrs experience) but the program doesn’t have full time permanent positions in ER currently. My education isn’t from a target school and my current employer isn’t super well-known for ER and I’m hoping to get into an investment research role in the future, whether at a mutual fund, HF, or PE (the goal). Would it be a mistake to take this IR position? On one hand the HF is one of the most well-known in the world, but I’m worried that it may look bad that I went from an ER program, to IR, and then want to get back into research. On the other hand, my current education and employer aren’t great for getting my foot in the door with these competitive industries. What advice would you have for someone like me? Try to pursue a full-time ER role after I complete my program or take the IR as a stepping stone based on the prestige of the firm?

    1. We don’t specialize in IR on this site, but I think it would be better to aim for a full-time ER role directly once your program ends. As you said, moving into an IR role will probably make it more difficult to move into a full-time ER role eventually. The prestige of the hedge fund might help a bit, but it tends to be difficult to move from IR roles at such funds into investing roles.

    2. Hi Francesca! Would you mind sharing a bit about the interview process, interview questions or any materials you used while preparing for your interviews? Trying to break into a IR role at a HF myself. Thanks!

  7. Hi,

    I know this thread is really old but its been huge help! Cheers for that

    I’ve been called to interview for a IR associate position at a boutique hedge fund. I studied MSc Finance and Engineering as bachelors. I have experience working in relationship management(intern) at a bank, then as middle office analyst at an investment manager (fubd of hedge fund) so in total 3 yrs. my question is how do i approach to study for this interview and what will the interviewer be looking for in a csndidate? I checked the guys interviewing me and they have like both finance,economics and some technical degree as well.. so i am a bit confused.. IR seem to be a tailored role for each company but could you help me pls?


    1. They’ll ask you how you would research what analysts and investors are saying about the company, how you would narrow down your work efficiently, and how you would communicate major announcements to investors. Writing samples or presentations are likely. I don’t think they’ll ask extremely technical questions since IR is much more about finding and presenting information correctly than it is about making calculations in Excel or answering math problems.

  8. Great interview thanks! May I ask when applying for assistant/junior IR manager position is work experience in finance a must have? Or a degree/some finance certificate would be enough just to consider you for this position?

    1. You normally need some amount of work experience in finance, so you would probably need more than a degree or finance certificate.

  9. Hi,
    how easy is it to become a portfolio manager after having worked in ER at a bulge bracket?
    Do you ER Analyst get bonuses? How do they compare to M&A bonuses? Is it possible to switch from ER to M&A or even Private Equity?


    1. It is possible but not that easy because you need a long track record of good performance to reach the PM level. Yes, ER Analysts get bonuses but they are far lower than in IB (maybe ~50% of the total compensation?). It is possible but difficult to move to M&A/PE because the skill sets do not overlap that much. Equity research is a dying/struggling industry, so it’s usually not a great starting point at this stage.

  10. Avatar
    Craze for analyst role!

    Hi, urgent question here. May I know how is the likelihood of progressing to become equity research analyst or corporate finance analyst from an IR entry level role at a boutique IR firm? Very much appreciated!

    1. ER is not that high a chance, and it’s increasingly a worse area to be in. Corporate finance is higher probability.

  11. Hi,
    Thanks for the insights. Just a quick question. I’m a junior corporate finance analyst in a local boutique. Given two opportunities: (i) still corporate finance in a mid-market securities firm, and (ii) IR and corporate finance analyst in a well-established company. Which one will be a better fit for me, if I already decided to go for further study in 1 or 2 years and then work towards a fund manager (my career goal)?
    Look forward to your advice!

    1. FYI: I understand research would be better for me, but I just don’t have such opportunity at this moment.

    2. #2 is probably better because brand name matters quite a bit, and you already have corporate finance experience at the boutique. Getting a better brand name would help you more at this stage.

  12. Avatar
    Ashton Hellwig

    Is it possible for someone working in fintech/machine learning to move into IR for a company similar to my background? Or are they looking for strictly financial experience?

    1. It would be a stretch with that background, you would need some type of finance/investing experience first.

  13. Wow this thread is still alive after all these years. First page google search results do matter…

    My quick question to anyone who may care to answer is How long does it take and how easy is it to move from a Head IR role at a small cap to a Head IR Role at a Mid-Large Cap for someone with extensive Equity Research experience as an Analyst.

    1. Not sure about that one, but I assume the main difficulty is that you might come in at a slightly lower level… but you should still be able to recruit for those roles at bigger firms if you have enough experience. It’s more about whether you’re willing to accept that than the time required.

  14. “IR Manager – This requires at least 5-6 years of experience.”
    “IR Manager – 40K+ HKD / month (roughly $60K USD per year)”

    I am not privy to the purchasing power in HK, but something does not seem right

    1. These quotes were from a few years ago, the numbers have probably increased since then. Plenty of people survive on those salaries in HK. It’s super-expensive, but do-able if you live in a tiny place and don’t spend much on food etc.

  15. Avatar
    Noelle Sanglier

    Thank you for the interview. I have been thinking about changing my career from legal/compliance to IR for a while now. The reason for this is that I want to work more in an external focused job in which I need to be a representative and interact with people. At the moment I mostly sit behind my desk, alone.

    Any tips on how to achieve this career change?

    Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1) Can you move to a more client facing role internally? I may start looking at internal roles that involve interacting with people (ideally investors if you want to move to IR) and connect with people at such departments. Moving internally is probably easier than moving externally in your case.
      2) Otherwise, I may look for a legal/compliance role at say a smaller fund/firm and try to transition to an IR role thereafter.
      3) I may also go for an advanced degree in a target school if you don’t succeed in your networking efforts in the next 6 months or so to rebrand your “image.”

      1. Avatar
        Noelle Sanglier

        Thank you for your answer Nicole.

        I figured it was going to be difficult moving externally to an IR role coming from Legal/Compliance. Unfortunately there are no positions at my current firm, although they did mention I would be great at it.

        Maybe start at a PR role externally instead and grow from there?

        1. That could be an option, yes. But I think you could just apply directly to other firms that have IR roles – if you already know the legal and compliance side, there may not be much more to gain from taking a PR role first.

  16. HI,

    I currently work in Corporate Finance in a Rotational Program for a Corporate 100 (1.5 years). I studied strategic communications and finance in undergrad. I work for a private company so there is no IR. I’m interested in pursuing IR to see if I actually like it, but am unsure if I would want to stay there. I like numbers, but communication/creativity as well. I feel I would like IR for awhile, but soon be interested in moving away from numbers. I want to get an MBA in a year or 2 to open up my future employment opportunities . I have a couple of questions concerning if I don’t get to experience IR before I go back to school:

    1) Is it possible to move from IR to say, normal PR/media coaching or marketing? 2) If I move into IR after school, would I be stuck in Finance?
    3) Are MBAs hired into higher level roles even if they have no IR experience?

    Any help would be appreciated!

    1. 1) I don’t think we have any stories of that happening, but yes, it’s most likely possible given that IR requires more technical knowledge than those.

      2) Maybe not “stuck,” but it would be a bit harder to move into a non-finance role after an MBA and working in IR.

      3) Like the interviewee here said, firms generally don’t hire recent grads into IR roles. You might have a better shot since you have corporate finance experience. But I don’t think they would bring you in at the Director level, even with an MBA.

  17. Hello, is it possible to move into IR from a Big 4 consulting background? I have experience reviewing and analysing financial statements but I wasn’t involved in the transactions teams

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes it is, but you need to demonstrate your ability to interact with investors

  18. Avatar

    Great article, thanks for sharing! I have a phone screen today with a multi-national firm for an IR analyst role…pretty excited about the opportunity, but not sure what to expect as far as the interview process. This article helped clarify a lot. Currently, I am a Sr. Financial Analyst w/a CPG company and I primarily focus on our pricing & promotion strategy. I am looking to better utilize my people skills, so hopefully this role will provide that opportunity.


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thank you for reading the post – I’m glad you find the material useful.

      1. Hi Nicole….yes, the material was useful and I ended up landing the role…I love it so far! IR is definitely a niche field within Finance, but it suits my personality.


        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Thank you for your note. If you don’t mind, do you mind sharing your experience with us? If so, I’ll reach out to you via email.

          1. I’m happy to share my experience. I’ve only been in the role about 3 weeks, so I’m still “drinking through a fire hose”, but I’d be happy to help.

  19. Hi

    I have been offered a role at a top IR advisory firm.

    I have a commerce degree and 18 months experience as a tax consultant with a big 4 accounting firm.

    I would like to know what my exit opportunities are from IR? Can I move into equity research?

    Would completing a CFA 1 help?



    1. ER is possible, but probably difficult as it’s not a common transition. More likely would be moving to a corporate finance role at a company instead, or potentially into a capital markets or fundraising role at a bank. The CFA would help for ER roles, but wouldn’t necessarily make a massive difference.

      1. Many thasks. It’s good to know there are some good exit options to pursue.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole


  20. As someone who is currently working for an IR team I can say that internships are available, however you might need to reach out to the team. If it is a specialty company, prove you know a decent amount in the field. And if anything, READ THE 10K AND LATEST 10Q. Prospectus and latest few 8-K’s cant hurt either. Very dynamic field with lots of work around earnings time. So far very enjoyable!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your feedback!

  21. Hi Nicole,

    Recently I have been interviewing for a F100 company in the IR department as a Financial analyst. I have been given these two projects as part of my interview process:

    As we speak with investors, it’s good to understand our competitors’ strengths and weakness in developing messages that resonate and stick. As such, these messages tend to have (but are not limited to) financial performance. Assess “ Competitor A” as a company and how you might suggest we talk about “Our Company” and “Competitor A” in the same discussion.

    Information flow is a continual challenge in IR. With analysts following the company and competitors, that’s potentially 1,000 analyst reports to review each quarter . . . and then there’s press coverage and blogs. Investors are data driven people, so outline your plan for ingesting, analyzing and leveraging data from a larger dynamic set of data sources. This is a Big Data challenge inside one position.

    Can you let me know what your ideas would be for these two?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Please see below for a few pointers:
      The first point – it is about your ability to understand your competitors and craft strong messages that represent your company.
      The second point – you need to be able to determine the news from the noise. Learn to distinguish data that is useful to your investors.

  22. Hi Brian

    Can you give more advise if ppl want to switch to IB/Corporate development from IR?

    Is it going to take a long time with lucks?

    Thank you

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes it may take some time and it isn’t a common move from IR to IB because IR doesn’t provide the necessary valuation experience IB requires

      1. Avatar
        Jake Adams

        If someone has prior Corp dev experience in oilfield services but moved over to investor relations in e&p, would it be possible to go into Corp dev in e&p after working in IR? Also have client based transaction exp in oil field services so can talk about the ways bankers look transactions in general. And have also gotten up to date on how upstream transactions are valued (your guide helped a lot!!)

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes as long as you can highlight your corp dev experience and spin how your IR experience is relevant to the role you’re applying for.

  23. Hi Brian,

    Do you know if Investor Relation arms of large companies hire interns at all?


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think they do. It may not be common because such spots can be limited.

  24. However, in terms of stability, if you want to work in house, make sure the company is not too small or vulnerable to a takeover. Happened to me twice and got made redundant.

  25. Thanks for the article.
    I work in the field of IR as an IR Manager in Europe (so in house)and I would like to add that there are more exit options:
    – Working for an IR/financial communication consultancy
    – Working for an investment bank in corporate broking team or roadshow team
    – Using your IR knowledge to work for an IR/communication recruitment consultant
    The good thing with IR is that is a very versatile role and there are a lot of transferable skills.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thank you for your input. I agree with you!

      1. Just to add, on occasion IR people at corporates will move over to equity research, at least I’ve seen this happen several times in Asia.

        1. Maybe but in that case you would need to have some kind of accountancy qualification or equivalent (which is not always required in IR).

          1. Accountancy qualification? No you don’t. The accounting knowledge needed in ER is not that heavy at all, a course or 2 is sufficient. Anyway, if the ER team likes an IR person and thinks he/she has sufficient analytic ability the team will seriously consider hiring him/her, regardless of any qualification or lack of.

        2. Thanks for your last comment Adam. That is good to know.

    2. Hi Val,

      Recently I have been interviewing for a F100 company in the IR department as a Financial analyst. I have been given these two projects as part of my interview process:

      As we speak with investors, it’s good to understand our competitors’ strengths and weakness in developing messages that resonate and stick. As such, these messages tend to have (but are not limited to) financial performance. Assess “ Competitor A” as a company and how you might suggest we talk about “Our Company” and “Competitor A” in the same discussion.

      Information flow is a continual challenge in IR. With analysts following the company and competitors, that’s potentially 1,000 analyst reports to review each quarter . . . and then there’s press coverage and blogs. Investors are data driven people, so outline your plan for ingesting, analyzing and leveraging data from a larger dynamic set of data sources. This is a Big Data challenge inside one position.

      Can you let me know what your ideas would be for these two?

  26. Quick question. I am a high school student in Canada, what can I begin learning in my offtime and in the summer to have a competitive edge in IB after graduating Univerisity with a BCOM in Accounting, Finance or MIS.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think you can gaining in-depth knowledge of financial modeling, the stock markets, how capital markets work, and perhaps start talking to people in the industry. If you’ve already been doing the above in your freshman year, you’ll be ahead of many people.

  27. Avatar
    Comms guy

    Thanks for this, very helpful. In a similar vein, I’d love to learn about corporate communications or media relations positions at F500s or big banks — think Goldman’s Jake Siewert, or Facebook’s Mike Buckley

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thank you for your comment and suggestion! We will keep your suggestions in mind!

  28. Quick question – I am currently a 3rd year analyst in ECM at a bulge bracket bank. Im wondering how working in IR at a public company would differ from working in IR at a hedge fund. The opportunities headhunters keep throwing my way are with hedge funds.


    1. Hmm good question – the main difference is that you spend more time with the LPs and answering questions about the fund’s performance vs. the interim reports that F500 companies spend time on. Also, there’s probably less hierarchy at hedge funds since most do not have the same level of resources that large companies do. I’ll see if we can do an interview on IR at a HF in the future.

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        Adding to Brian’s comment, I suspect the compensation at a HF is probably higher and that the recruitment process is probably more intense for a HF IR role.

        1. Thanks so much for the valuable intel. I am pursuing a few different avenues and was initially down and out that more traditional banking exit opportunities were not available to me. Feeling a bit better about things after reading this post. As an aside I have been reading since college – there’s no one who quite compares.

          1. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Yes there are definitely other areas outside of traditional banking exit opportunities that you can explore. Its mostly about your network and willingness to go out of your comfort zone. Thanks for your support!

          2. IR at an HF or PE firm would somewhat be the same as at a corporate – analyzing performance and presenting it to investors (i.e. the fund’s AUM), keeping track of what competitors are doing and reporting this to senior partners, etc. The place where’d you really diverge is that at a fund you’ll spend a lot of time on fundraising, which the fund will do every couple of years. At a corporate you’ll be involved in capital raisings yes, but some companies go years without going to the market, only borrowing from a commercial bank here and there.

          3. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Thanks for your input!

          4. One more thing – at a fund a big issue is retaining AUM – investors can pull out when they want (or at certain intervals, depending on the fund agreement). The IR person will play a big part in keeping investors from leaving.

            At a corporate, this isn’t an issue. Once the co. has the capital they don’t have to give it back (or just repay at maturity for debt, but not sooner). Yes the co. needs good IR to prevent shareholder/debtholder revolts, bad press, and to keep access to capital markets open, but the degree to which a company needs IR depends on the company. A very popular and successful co. can thumb its noise at investors, and those investors will still line up to invest (Apple is known to do this). This was true for hot fund managers also, before 2008, but not really any longer.

          5. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Thanks for your input!

  29. An interview with someone that works in IR in the USA would be very helpful

    1. Thanks, we hope to cover that one soon and interview someone in the US.

  30. Thanks for this interview I currently work for an IR firm and always wondered about how my skills can be used in another field.

  31. Avatar
    Senior going into Banking

    Thank you! This was very insightful for someone who is considering going into IR. I really enjoy these interview series.

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