COVID-19 model 'here to stay,' predicts investor-relations expert

“Now people can get the same amount of capital by spending a day on the computer speaking remotely with investors – and still have dinner with their family and see their kids.”

Working from home (photo credit: PXHERE)
Working from home
(photo credit: PXHERE)
With 22 years' experience in investor relations, Miri Segal is certain the recent success stories of company executives able to secure investments remotely, due to the COVID-19 disruption of the flight market, spells a radical change.
When the pandemic broke out, she told The Jerusalem Post, “top bankers and others felt like an entire world was coming to an end. Nobody would have imagined that 2020 would turn out to be one of the best-performing years for IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) since the dot.com bubble in the late 1990s.”
As Segal sees it, "companies were able to raise more than $60 billion, which marks a 33% increase when compared to 2019 – and the year isn't even over yet."  
She objects to using the term “bubble,” pointing to how “companies I work with were able to integrate into the stay-at-home trend, which includes various other sectors such as fitness, digital health and, of course, cyber.”
“The efficiency in which this was done is also impressive,” she told the Post
To understand the depth of the change, it’s useful to better understand what investor relations is.
“The goal is to increase the exposure of a company to the capital market,” she explains, “my focuses are to help companies about to go public [on the stock market] and work with public firms who want to improve their relations with investors.” 
“While I am very much a people person, to the extent I will add even more meetings than asked on behalf of a client, this sector is always moving – what's needed is strategy,” she told the Post.  
While a lot of the work has to do with being a “people person,” to know who is interested in what, why they have such an interest, and being able to reach them when the situation requires – a lot of the work has to do with handling “interactions on a daily basis with investors,” she explained. 
“In Israel, after several years, I knew the several hundred people who comprise the capital market,” she explained. “I’ve been in NYC for 15 years and the US market is so big, with so many investors and different sectors, that I can mostly only speak about my field – which is global technology and the Israeli companies in it. And in that field, I have excellent familiarity. Yet the North American market is a vast one.”  
THE VASTNESS of the market meant, in the pre-coronavirus days, that the business culture expected people with a great hi-tech start-up to rent a private plane and “do the rounds,” often combining meetings in the EU as well as the US. The unspoken convention was that meetings had to be held face to face, so an entire industry grew around it.
Hotels, museums, and restaurants would be booked for presentations or networking events. “On Wall Street they used to have a saying: ‘Work hard – Play hard,’” she told the Post. “Some of these events were spectacular. Banks would spend a million dollars on an event.
“Don’t get the wrong idea though – the business end of such events was always done to the letter, with a great deal of professionalism. Yet once the dial points to five there used to be a culture of drinking or clubbing, for example, that has gone out the window now.”
“The pre-pandemic 'Road Show' would take two weeks out of people’s lives. Now, after COVID-19, people can get the same amount of capital by spending a day on the computer speaking remotely with investors and still have dinner with their family and see their kids,” she pointed out. “If you get the same exact result, why would you return to the way things were?”
As she sees it, some business decisions still require face-to-face contact such as a decision to buy a company. “In such a situation, people do want to meet the workers face to face and see the offices or factory with their own eyes,” she said: “another aspect is networking.”
At the end of the day, people do business with other people, and in such a huge market as the US, Israeli companies often need help. Not just to understand what going public means, and how to project the right message, but also to locate the right person who would invest in what you have. 
“Maybe in the future there’ll be an AI that “matches” investors to people with ideas,” she jokes. “At this point in time, those who do the best job in it are the World Economic Forum people who are very committed to pre-arranging meetings for people who attend their events – simply because they are so huge.
“For me, there is no substitute to the elevator conversation or overhearing something,” she concluded. “When I go to an event and someone says something that is useful to a client – my client will get that meeting.”