Amit Bhalla is the Senior Vice President and Head of Investor Relations at Schneider Electric based in London. Amit started his career in consulting and has over the years worked in diverse corporate and finance leadership roles in multinational corporations across UK, Singapore, China, France and India. Amit is a qualified Chartered Accountant with management courses from Insead and UNC.
Schneider Electric is empowering people to make the most of energy and resources, ensuring Life Is On for everyone, everywhere and at every moment. With 135,000 employees worldwide and a presence in over 115 countries, Schneider Electric had revenues in excess of 27 billion euros in 2019.
We spoke with Amit to get his insights on challenges facing IROs and the skills needed to be successful.
Can you share a bit about your career and IR experience?
I have run the IR department at Schneider Electric since August 2016. This is my first role in IR. During my 25 years of corporate experience, I have worked in multiple roles for large global companies. My areas included international tax planning, transfer pricing, restructuring and M&A advisory. I started my career in consulting with Arthur Andersen. This is my eighth year at Schneider and I am inspired to work for a company with a meaningful purpose, a company where we celebrate diversity and inclusion, and where people are truly empowered.
What are the benefits you have seen from being a Nasdaq IR client?
I have found the regular support from Nasdaq on market updates, shareholder movements/ identification and specific query resolution very effective. I have found the team supporting us to be top notch and very responsive. A true long-term partnership.
How can the IRO best engage the investment community?
I think the starting point is to have a clear understanding of what are the most important elements for different investor groups. You are then able to ensure being most time efficient and productive in passing the specific aspects of the equity story and financial results. My overall focus is for the investor community to better understand our business, our innovations, our digital transformation as well as our strong link to sustainability.
Apart from results presentations, capital market days, roadshows and conferences, I am increasingly utilising our customer showcase events and site visits for investors so that they can engage with our people, our customers and directly experience our products and digital offerings. Last year, Schneider organised multiple customer focused innovation summits attended by over 13,000 customers – these are the perfect events to include investors.
What is one important initiative that you’ve championed or experience that you’ve had as an Investor Relations professional?
During my past 3.5 years leading IR at Schneider, I have tried to initiate (and in some cases create) several best practices and new initiatives. Let me illustrate two of them. Firstly, I have instituted a program where we have a quarterly touch point with our investors separate from our quarterly results – this could be a site visit, a call or webcast on specific key topics, customer or investor events, ESG newsletters, factory tour etc. I think this is well appreciated by the investors – it keeps us connected with our investors and gives them a better understanding of Schneider Electric. Secondly, the IR team has embarked on an internal program to ensure our Top 1000 leaders in the company across the world get a complete understanding of our equity story and see the role each of them play in meeting our financial commitments. We want our leaders across the world to understand the expectations of our investors. This has been accomplished through multiple internal presentations, webcasts, learning sessions and regular video feeds post results and roadshows. This has been appreciated within the company and now being formalised as a leadership-learning curriculum.
Over the past years, we have a number of resources such as Factset, Nasdaq and other providers to enable us be up to speed on market developments, research reports, stock movement and financial analytics. As a team, we try to stay current with developments in our sector. Most importantly, I ensure that we are carefully listening to what our investors are telling us and we spend time interacting with our analysts who have a good pulse on the market. The challenge, of course, is that there is often too much information and it’s important to periodically take some distance and try to understand larger and structural trends in the sector and the risks/opportunities they present.
What skills do you think can make an IR officer successful?
I think it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your investors/analysts; to be intuitive and to be a good listener. I think a combination of communication skills and a strong understanding of the business and consequent financials is imperative. However, if I have to pick one thing, I would say that you have to display consistency across time to build trust and credibility with investors.
What advice do you have for the next generation of IR officer?
My advice to the next generation IRO would be to seize the challenge of being in IR at a time when the ground rules are changing. With more direct interaction with investors as the role of the sell-side is being redefined, it is a good opportunity for IR teams to beef up resources and caliber. Further, with increasing focus on sustainability and the advent of great digital technology, I foresee a lot more virtual roadshows and interactions. In addition, I would say – don’t forget that you are the face of your company and first touch point for the financial markets. Investors have many choices and you have a true responsibility to make a real difference for the benefit of the investor and your company as well!
What are your top priorities and biggest challenges?
My top priority is to ensure that our current and prospective investors have a clear understanding and appreciation of our compelling equity story. I am also very focused on building the most high-performing and diverse IR team across multiple locations. I believe that the IR experience is invaluable to groom talent that can subsequently be deployed in other parts of the company. For me it is very rewarding to enable my team members progress and take larger roles within the organisation. The challenge, however, is to then replenish the team and bring them up to speed without the investors noticing the changes in the team. We are constantly raising the bar.
Schneider Electric empowers all to make the most of their energy and resources, ensuring Life is On everywhere, for everyone, at every moment. We provide energy and automation digital solutions for efficiency and sustainability. We have 135,000 employees worldwide and are present in over 115 countries (with our Headquarters in Paris), with revenues, of 27.2 billion euros.
About Schneider Electric
Schneider Electric is leading the Digital Transformation of Energy Management and Automation in Homes, Buildings, Data Centers, Infrastructure and Industries. With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the undisputable leader in Power Management – Medium Voltage, Low Voltage and Secure Power, and in Automation Systems. We provide integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and software. In our global Ecosystem, we collaborate with the largest Partner, Integrator and Developer Community on our Open Platform to deliver real-time control and operational efficiency. We believe that great people and partners make Schneider a great company and that our commitment to Innovation, Diversity and Sustainability ensures that Life Is On everywhere, for everyone and at every moment.