IR Apps Catch On

Companies send timely info via shareholders’ mobile devices.

Companies looking to develop a closer relationship with their investors now have a new tool—the smart phone app.

A typical app offers a company’s stock information, news releases and SEC filings, plus any additional information it would like to provide to its investors.

One company that is offering such an app to its investors is RPM International, the Ohio-based maker of Rust-Oleum and other coatings for both industrial and consumer use. RPM had $3.3 billion in revenue in 2011.

“People are spending an increasing amount of time online, particularly via mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet devices,” says Kathie Rogers, RPM’s manager of investor relations, pictured at right. “We need to be in front of investors wherever they are consuming media, and this app allows us to do just that. Plus, it enables us to provide more frequent and timely communication to investors. The expected benefit is that they will have a greater understanding and awareness of our business that strengthens our relationship with them.”

The RPM app goes beyond basic stock information, Rogers says, with news, management bios and more.

This differentiates the IR app from general-purpose investment apps used to monitor portfolios of stocks.

“A company-specific IR app like ours is really targeted at close followers of the business, such as financial analysts, employees or potential investors who are considering buying the stock,” Rogers says. “It provides them a deeper dive into the company beyond the basic stock price information a general-purpose app might provide.”

Companies interested in this approach can use apps from vendors such as KCSA Strategic Communications in New York. Its IR App offers companies a full content management system into which investor relations managers can upload investor presentations, corporate videos, marketing materials, and more. The next release, due out in May, will give companies the ability to send users alerts about announcements.

In addition, these apps are very easy to use. According to KCSA CEO Jeff Corbin, users download the app from the app store, click on its icon, and they’re in—no configuration required.

“An investor… doesn’t need to type in anything,” Corbin says. “The IR App allows a company to own a piece of real estate on an investor’s mobile device. It is a shareholder relationship-building tool.”

And those relationships will soon be more than one-way. KCSA’s next release will allow users to share content with others and to opt in to the company’s investor database.

Slightly less than 50 companies have their own investment apps, Corbin says, including Nestlé, SAP, Unilever and British Petroleum. KCSA has 10 more corporate customers that will be coming online in the next few weeks, he adds.

KCSA’s main competitor is Toronto-based Q4 Web Systems. Both vendors charge companies a one-time setup fee—from $2,500 to $7,000—and a monthly subscription fee of several hundred dollars. They both also pull information automatically from corporate Websites and require little to no manual intervention by the company after the initial configuration.

Both vendors currently provide apps for the iPhone and iPad platform only, but Android alternatives are expected soon.

 

To read about companies’ use of a retail model to provide apps to their employees, see The Little Shop for Apps.

 

 

 

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