Celebrating 10 Years of Elevating Investor Relations

This month marks 10 years of Arbor Advisory Group. As we celebrate our successes, our advisory team and our incredible client roster, we also reflect on the lessons we’ve learned that are worth carrying into the future.
Samuel Levenson
Nov 29, 2023

Our team is incredibly proud and grateful to be celebrating Arbor Advisory Group’s 10-year anniversary. This journey has been rewarding, enlightening and at times challenging, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on how we got here, what we learned along the way and why we are looking to the future with a sense of optimism and a clear purpose.

A Better Way, a Decade in the Making

Author Sam Levinson gives a presentation, with graphic text in the background that reads “10 Years.”Before Arbor, I had decades of corporate investor relations experience, which was instrumental as I developed my own vision for a high-touch IR consulting firm. Based on my experience in challenging yet rewarding roles, such as leading investor relations for Sony North America and implementing the first IR program for Staples, I saw a gap in the market for IR service providers. Many IR firms were “checking the box,” with competent support of day-to-day activities, but few were providing the in-depth engagement needed to nurture a deeper understanding of valuation, the shareholder base, market perception and, ultimately, strategic priorities.

My belief was that the right IR team could drive far more value by taking a more meaningful and proactive role focused on carefully aligning shareholders with management’s long-term strategic vision. I founded Arbor with the conviction that maintaining and strengthening trust with key stakeholders is the only way to earn true long-term marketplace credibility and enable valuable investor engagement.

As I set to work assembling Arbor Advisory Group, I could already see that markets were rapidly evolving. Passive and quantitative investing strategies were proliferating, and management teams could no longer rely on conventional wisdom to understand the motivations of key shareholders. Moving forward, I knew that Arbor would need to offer services that were tailored to this changing environment, including data intelligence capabilities that went far beyond the scope of traditional IR offerings. The market landscape has continued to change with each passing year, and the past decade has only verified our founding belief that IR capabilities must evolve to deliver results.

Best-in-Class Service Tailored to New Marketplace Realities

Our team is fortunate to have built relationships with amazing clients over the past decade, and we strive to provide these organizations with unparalleled service. In our experience, the complex needs driven by today’s markets are best served through a hands-on, high-touch approach, and we strive to treat each client uniquely. That means deliberately limiting our number of client engagements, a practice that allows us to provide the highly focused support of two Senior Advisors for each client.

We believe the most effective IR service requires a dual commitment to both traditional investor relations activities (such as planning and executing investor days, maintaining key investor relationships and managing important company transitions) and a novel, data-driven approach that synthesizes human intelligence with in-depth valuation analytics.

We call this new approach “Investor Relations 2.0.” First, we take the time to understand each client’s unique value proposition from the ground up, listen to key stakeholders inside and outside the organization and develop holistic insights into the myriad qualitative factors that can affect a firm’s valuation and market perception. Second, we draw on advanced data analytics capabilities to provide in-depth insights into current and relative valuation, including metrics that shed light on the motivations of all types of investors.

Bringing together these diverse analytical capabilities within one boutique advisory firm was a genuine challenge. But as our capabilities continued to evolve over the past decade, we saw time and time again that our investment in a suite of truly elevated IR services was well worth the time and effort. In today’s marketplace, there is simply no other way to offer management teams true transparency into share price, identify potential valuation gaps and build a strategy that is truly tailored to the right investors’ most salient concerns.

A Best-in-Class Team

Developing, refining and executing Arbor Advisory Group’s elevated approach to investor relations has necessitated bringing together an amazing collection of talent. Our senior advisory team averaged over two decades of corporate experience prior to joining our group, including experience in over 20 different industries. This level of expertise is critical to helping our clients navigate diverse, complex issues at a global scale. Most of all, it ensures that our advisors are ready to hit the ground running, confidently engage with high-level stakeholders and function as seamless extensions of client IR teams.

Text that says, “50+ client partnerships, 25+ best-in-class Investor Days, 200+ advisors’ cumulative years of expertise.

View our Who We Are page to learn more and see the full team. 

Lessons from the Last 10 Years

Arbor Advisory Group started with my vision for an elevated IR service, and this vision has continued to deepen and mature based on the hard-earned experience of the past decade. Based on this experience, the lessons below represent touchstones for our organization as we look forward.

1. Thinking differently about IR is worth it. We see over and over that our most rewarding engagements are those where we get deepest in the weeds to solve tough problems for IROs and management teams. The last decade has only confirmed our belief that a superficial program simply does not meet the needs of today’s markets. Arbor’s approach does require more time, effort and care, but we believe there is no other path to delivering true investor engagement.

2. Data matters. Quantitative metrics need not be the basis of every decision, but they can virtually always provide valuable context for strategic decision-making. The rise of quantitative traders, index funds and passive investing strategies will only continue to accelerate, and more robust data is critical to helping management understand share price.

Relatedly, we know that data is the bridge for conviction transfer. If data layers in critical context for informed decision-making, it also affirms management teams’ assertions on the validity and progress of their strategies. Investors who see data that supports reported progress often, as a result, hold greater convictions to own those shares.

3. We should align our capacity with work worth doing. Our team excels when we maintain a tight focus on the IR activities that can provide a tangible business impact for our clients. We always seek to avoid templated playbooks. Instead, we work to identify unique IR challenges and align them with the distinctive experiences, interests and talents of our people to find a solution.

4. Unprecedented challenges take IR into uncharted territory. Like the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic forced IR professionals to reevaluate how we connect with investors and communicate critical company context, ostensibly overnight. Remote work challenged the historical models of in-person events, including conferences, non-deal roadshows and Investor Days. Supply chain shortages, shipping delays and operational roadblocks threatened many companies’ capabilities to execute on their business models. Several industries — retail and restaurant in particular — were forced to shut down operations and lay off their workforces, only to rehire and train new talent as pandemic restrictions eased.

In the immediate aftermath, we helped our clients manage these challenges in real time, all while ensuring their investors stayed informed. But as we forge further into uncharted territory, it’s evident that disruptions caused by the pandemic will continue to inform the IR discipline, business models, and the financial markets at large. Investor days, as an example, continue to cater to both virtual and in-person audiences. IR teams that adapt to this new model by prioritizing strong production value are consequently those who will realize the greatest return on management’s time in the future.

A Look Toward the Future

As we look back at the last decade, our team is incredibly grateful for our clients, proud of our work and convinced that a differentiated approach to investor relations is a strategic imperative for publicly traded companies today. As we look forward to the next decade, we are excited for new challenges, ready to continue honing our unique approach and poised for the ongoing evolution of equity markets.

We would like to thank our clients for joining us on this journey, our family and friends for supporting us along the way and the entire Arbor team, without whom we could not have made this journey.

Sam Levenson

Samuel Levenson

Founder and CEO, NIRI Fellow