A six-month-old SEC regulation that requires public companies to disseminate financial information to the public at the same time as they reveal it to analysts and professional investors has sparked a 50% increase in Webcasting since October, reports CCBN, a Boston-based technology company that specializes in shareholder communications.
Yesterday, CCBN said it selected EnvoyWorldwide Inc.'s business messaging platform to launch a new Target Messaging & List Management service aimed at corporate investor relations (IR) departments that need to comply with SEC Reg. FD.
The new Internet-based service will allow IR professionals to send targeted messages to shareholders via email and fax, and to manage the shareholder lists through a centralized Web interface. CCBN plans to utilize the wireless delivery feature by year-end.
Since it took effect last October, the SEC financial disclosure rule known as SEC Reg. FD places the onus on corporations to disclose financial information to the public at the same time they disseminate information to analysts and other professionals in the investment community."We've kind of distributed things out to a broad-based network of investors. At the same time, companies want to push that information out to targeted list of investors," says Greg Radner, director of marketing for CCBN.
The key advantages are that companies can pull lists of investors or prospective investors into one online tool, and disseminate the exact same message to all those lists or customer messages for different lists. Secondly, it allows them to deliver bulk messages according to the investor's preference, either email or fax. Finally, it gives the corporation detailed reporting on the failure or success rates of those emails. For end users, rather than making them go onto AOL's Web site or hunt for relevant information on the Web, some prefer to receive an email or fax when relevant information is released by those companies, says Radner.
CCBN has integrated EnvoyXpress into MyCCBN, a suite of online tools that IR professionals use to manage their communications from a centralized Web interface. Envoy offers an XML-based API that is designed to let firms integrate the service into existing applications. EnvoyExpress will serve as the backbone of The Messaging Center portion of MyCCBN.
According to Radner, CCBN has built investor relations Web sites for 2,500 public corporations. More than half those clients have access to the targeted messaging tool for no extra charge as part of their service package, says Radner. C CBN also sends out 50,000 email alerts per day to people who have signed up through the 2,500 IR web sites.
The target messaging service will allow them to disseminate the same information to a targeted list, he says. "They're able to customize a message for each of those audiences or take the same message that's going out in a press release and disseminate it in a personalized way," says Radner.
Wireless Support What Envoy provides is a "one-to-many, outbound communications platform," says Susan Challenger, vice president of marketing for the Billerica, Mass.-based company, adding that in addition to email and fax it can support phone, landline, SMS, pagers, WAP and all types of wireless devices. "We allow senders to send messages to their audiences across all wired and wireless devices," she says. In the first phase, CCBN will disseminate the information via email and fax, but sending messages out to wireless devices is on the docket for phase two by the end of this year, says Radner. Going forward, Rader says, he's intrigued about using technology to convert text into audio and delivering that via the phone.
According to Jonathan Penn, senior industry analyst with Giga Information Group in Santa Clara, Envoy Worldwide is a type of customer relationship management (CRM), multi-channel delivery service that is very popular in the airline/travel business, where people can be notified when flights are delayed or cancelled. Envoy's "real value proposition is that people can set up their own preferences depending on the type of message, the time of day and other parameters," he says. The service has been used to send out virus alerts where there is time-critical information and used by the operations folks in network management who normally use pagers but have information limits. "You may want to go through email or up to a PDA or cell phone that's enabled for SMS," adds Penn.
Other companies in the space include Center Post and Vignette, though Envoy is among the first to offer the delivery options over a year and a half ago. Penn says that Envoy has talked about expanding into financial information delivery for awhile. Challenger says an insurance company uses Envoy's messaging feature to send out policy updates and other information to policy holders so its call center reps can focus on incoming calls.
Penn calls the alliance "a nice marriage," but wonders "how many people are going to subscribe to it over and above the email notifications" they get by registering on Web sites. He questions whether the value add is coming from CCBN's side. "It's not so much that the public companies are seeking ways to reach their stockholders," he says, adding that checking email once a day is probably adequate for most people.
"I'm a little skeptical as to how widely adopted these other channels are going to be. How many people will want to be notified more frequently than just a regular email which they already receive?" he says. People who are rigorously monitoring stock information tend to be online already, he says, and those who are not users of email can get the information from their brokers, he says. "That kind of business has receded a bit, " he adds. "People aren't as interested in finding out that their stocks are going lower as often as they are that their stocks are going higher." Maybe so, but the need for public companies to comply with the new SEC regulation has already been a boon to CCBN's business.
During the first quarter, CCBN conducted Webcasts for about 3,000 investor events and is projecting it will do more than 15,000 for all of 2001.
Founded in 1997 by Jeff Parker--the creator of First Call Corporation--CCBN started out by building the investor relations sections of corporate Web sites for companies such as Coca-Cola and Motorola. It's built the investor relations sites for 2,500 corporations. Since then it's become the leading provider of Web-casting for investor events. In the last year, more than 12,000 users from 660 buy- and sell-side firms, including Fidelity, Putnam, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers, have subscribed to its Street Events database, where they're tracking a watch list of companies.
On the flip side, it distributes the same information to individual investors through exclusive arrangements with portals including AOL's personal finance channel, Yahoo Finance, Fidelity.com, the Wall Street Journal Online and this week went live on Forbes.com.
Ivy is Editor-at-Large for Advanced Trading and Wall Street & Technology. Ivy is responsible for writing in-depth feature articles, daily blogs and news articles with a focus on automated trading in the capital markets. As an industry expert, Ivy has reported on a myriad ... View Full Bio