Private Equity Investor Relations Specialists
Education and Training Requirements
The field of investor relations requires a unique combination of soft skills (especially communication) and financial acumen. As a result, it’s important to take classes that will help you to develop these talents. Recommended courses include English, speech, marketing, accounting, finance, business, economics, and mathematics. Round out your education with college-preparatory classes in history, social studies, and computer science. Taking a foreign language will be of great help if you plan to work overseas or at a PE firm that works with foreign investors.
Investor relations specialists need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, business, marketing, public relations, or a related field. Many IR professionals have a master’s degree in one of these aforementioned majors. Fordham University in New York City offers the only master’s degree program in investor relations in the United States. Typical classes in Fordham’s program include Principles of Modern Finance, Financial Statement Analysis, Contemporary Issues in Financial Reporting, Information Technology for Investor Relations, Communications and Public Relations Concepts: Investor Relations, and Symposium on Ethics of Investor Relations. The private equity industry is very small, and, consequently, managing partners are very particular about whom they hire. In most instances, applicants will only be considered for employment if they attended a top-tier school and have a stellar GPA.
Other Education or Training
The National Investor Relations Institute provides a variety of educational offerings that will help you stay up to date on industry developments and hone your skills. Some of its recent seminars included Fundamentals of IR, Keys to Successful Investor Presentations, and Finance Essentials for IR and Corporate Communications. The institute also offers professional development opportunities at its annual conference and online via webinars and self-paced courses. Visit https://www.niri.org/professional-development for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
The National Investor Relations Institute awards the investor relations charter designation to applicants who meet educational and experience requirements, pass a rigorous examination, and satisfy other criteria. Visit https://www.niri.org/certification for more information. Some IR specialists earn the chartered financial analyst designation, which is administered by the CFA Institute (https://www.cfainstitute.org/programs/cfa). Others are licensed as certified public accountants. The Uniform CPA Examination, which is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, is used by all states.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
You’ll need several years of experience in a finance-related field to qualify for entry-level investor relations (IR) positions. This experience should involve work in investment banking, equity research, accounting, or financial or strategy consulting. An IR manager will need five or so years of experience in lower-level IR positions (or in a corporate IR position), and IR directors need 10 years of private equity or corporate IR experience.
To be a successful IR specialist, you should:
- have strong analytical and quantitative skills
- have good interpersonal skills in order to interact with colleagues from various department and senior management, as well as current and potential investors
- be confident, a self-starter, and have a persuasive personality
- have strong project management skills
- be discrete and able to manage highly confidential and sensitive information
- be familiar with financial statements and the ins and outs of private equity funds
- have the ability to work under pressure
- be able to manage multiple tasks and projects.