LBS’s Managing Director Joanne Chan shares her thoughts on the importance of sustainable investor relations and the opportunities and challenges for communicating IPOs.

How important is sustainable investor relations? Can you share a case study that highlights the importance of this element?

Sustainable investor relations is all about communicating to the investment community that a company is creating a profit for shareholders in a sustainable manner. It’s also about educating people on the importance of good corporate governance and operating their business in a way which positively impacts the environment and society.

ESG has become a key risk assessment criteria for investors when seeking stable, long-term investment returns. For issuers, clearly communicating their sustainability strategy and ESG commitments to investors and financial institutions will open new financing doors. These include reliable low-cost channels such as green bonds targeting different industries and the Green and Sustainable Finance Grant Scheme launched by HKMA in 2021.

Following the announcement of China setting up a stock exchange in Beijing, what are some foreseeable challenges / opportunities in communicating IPO launches in Hong Kong?

We don’t see any particular challenges for IPO communications. Beijing exchange will be a good market for growing and nurturing local startups given its capital position and technological strengths. At the same time, Hong Kong as a mature and regulated global market with attracting global capital flows, will be a great platform for good Beijing-listed companies with adequate market valuation to approach for raising additional global capital. We see it as a win-win situation. However, the rise of the Beijing exchange may create challenges for Hong Kong in competing for market talents as we are also growing our market – for example with the upcoming launch of SPAC.

What is your one tip on rebranding / crisis management that can help bring opportunities for clients?

We always advise our clients to clearly communicate their key values, beliefs and missions to the public and stakeholders through consistent and proactive communications and reflect them through their corporate actions. When a crisis does occur, those efforts can make crisis communication more effective, help reduce communication costs and allow post-crisis corporate credibility to be rebuilt more quickly. Companies should set their key values, beliefs and missions for the future – and not make them up during the crisis. When a company is well-prepared for the unexpected, they’ll be able to act more quickly in addressing any crisis and even turn it into an opportunity.

You founded LBS Communications almost a decade ago. Can you tell us more about the rationale behind it?

LBS stands for Leverage Big Strategies. We always emphasise that we’re a strategy-based IR consultancy that’s driven by big ideas and beliefs. When we tackle a problem or begin a new project, we use a broad picture to make sure we take good care of all aspects of interests of stakeholders for clients. We think big, we can also act small to make sure our actions are meticulously implemented as we know the little details can make a big difference in achieving success.

What business challenges did you come across in the span of your career and how did you overcome them?

As a boutique IR consultancy based in Hong Kong with a presence in Mainland China, we’re very focused on providing services based around IR communications for listed companies and thereby develop our client base.

I think this has helped us weather several economic downturns in the whole region during the past decade as our relationships with clients are more long term and robust.

Retaining talent is always the biggest headache for an agency of our size. Our employees are our greatest asset and therefore we care for them by giving them every opportunity to learn and grow, and enjoy a good work-life balance.

If you could give one advice to your younger self, what would it be?

I regret that during my two decades in PR, I focused too much on work and neglected sport. It was only after taking up tennis and running a few years ago that I realised that sport is every bit as important as everything I do in my career.