Study "CEO and CFO in Financial Communication and Investor Relations"

Prof. Dr. Christian Hoffmann

The latest study "CEO and CFO in Financial Communications and Investor Relations" by the Center for Research in Financial Communication focuses on the integration and positioning of the two Management Board members within capital market communications. For this purpose, those responsible for Investor Relations and Financial Communications (on the Corporate Communications side) of the largest listed companies in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland were surveyed.

The results show that the communication tasks of the CEO and CFO tend to be divided by topics and stakeholders: The CEO is responsible for overarching topics, the CFO for financial reporting, and strategic topics are predominantly communicated together. The communication formats are differentiated according to stakeholder: The CEO is more closely involved in media relations, while the CFO is more likely to interact with analysts and investors. A good communicator with the capital market is characterized by an understanding of the stakeholder and alignment with the communication strategy. In short: it is a strategic communicator.

The capital market communication of the CEO and the CFO is rather not the subject of strategic communication management. The division of tasks is usually only defined informally and results from the topics and role profiles on a case-by-case basis. Above all, communication is evaluated on an ad hoc basis, with Investor Relations lagging behind in Corporate Communications or integrated departments. When evaluating, the focus is on qualitative indicators. Representatives of the Corporate Communications focus primarily on the media reports - but also on indicators that are reflected in it.

Only about half of the participants are pursuing a positioning strategy for the two Management Board members. The CEO is positioned more often, and more actively. However, this positioning strategy is rarely formally defined. Above all, the CFO is positioned primarily within the regular reporting and with current company topics. The CEO is positioned both inside and outside the regular reporting and with overarching, longer-term topics. CEO positioning is the domain of Corporate Communications, Investor Relations has a greater influence on CFO positioning. The company’s own (digital) channels provide plenty of scope for CEO and CFO positioning.

The full study is available here (German only)