Take our 2008 IR Magazine UK Awards. Shortly before our ceremony last year, investors and analysts heaped praise on Barclays, the British bank that could seemingly do no wrong.
'Barclays is good at communicating shareholder value. The profit targets and the calculation framework are clear,' said one investor in last year's investor perception study.
'Barclays' disclosure is the best. It gives the clearest detail on all its diverse businesses,' said another.
Fast-forward six months and the bank can barely do anything right. Last week, a fund manager told me that the management and IR team at Barclays were 'in denial'. The British bank issued a statement after close of trading on Friday, January 16 reassuring investors it was still profitable after its share price fell by 25 percent in one day. But despite its best efforts, Barclays' previous attempt at reassurance clearly failed to abate investor agitation and more share price falls followed last week.
It is slightly odd then that suddenly investors decided to believe Barclays yesterday after it released a joint letter from its chief executive and chairman. Agius' and Varley's statement was revealing nothing particularly new, so why did fund managers suddenly decide to reach into their pockets?
There are three possible reasons: the letter is long (over three pages), detailed (it goes into the bank's capital ratios) and more credible. Because the letter originates from the chief exec and chairman, it carries more weight than a generic market release from the firm's IR department. And with the markets in this kind of state, more firms need this kind of commitment from their senior management to get their desired message across to their investor audience.
The move seemed to pay off yesterday with the stock rising over 70 percent, but has Barclays done enough to secure itself an award this year?
Deputy international editor