The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the importance of audio and video conferencing services in our daily lives. With quarterly earnings calls on the horizon, this week we take a look at the pros and cons of a range of video providers (please see the tables and comments below). Over time we believe that video will gradually replace audio as the main means of communicating the quarterly call, with the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating a transition that was already underway. At Miranda IR we are here to help our clients to organize and run their quarterly earnings calls – please get in touch if you require assistance or advice.
Video has its advantages and drawbacks. Without doubt, the use of video makes the calls far more engaging for investors and analysts. Additionally, with the exception of Voitel, these are all automated, web-based services with no waiting around for an operator to let you join the call, as with many traditional conference call services. On the other hand, video is more complicated and time consuming to host, coordination between team members is overly transparent, and more things can go wrong. (Investors can always choose the non-video option for a video call, so for them it should be no worse than audio and maybe better).
When deciding on a video provider it is important to consider which platforms analysts and investors have easy access to. For some, (Actinver, Credit Suisse) Zoom is currently either blocked or advised against on company devices. However, before Zoom is dismissed, bear in mind that a) Zoom can and is be accessed via personal smart phones or via telephone b) Zoom is introducing end to end encryption (equal to Webex and better than all other providers) for all users this month and c) due to Zoom’s quick reactions to security concerns, institutions are beginning to open up to Zoom use e.g. Bank of America Merrill Lynch relaxed restrictions around Zoom usage last week. Zoom also allows those on the phone to ask questions.
If you are concerned about security, about all investment banks and investors having video access via their work computers, and not taking sides on Microsoft vs. Google, at the time of writing, Webex could be your best option – although its more expensive and less easy to use than Zoom. Teams and Google Meet work perfectly well, but they work better for those on its platform (I.e., Office or G-Suites) and as not everyone is on the same platform, it may be better to pick a provider that is neutral (Webex or Zoom). We also hear good things about Voitel, preferred platform of Credit Suisse in Latin America.
Apart from the global platforms, there are various platforms focused on hosting events (Pathable, Blue Jeans) or Investor Relations (Magellan Yates). We have known Tom Samuelson, the founder of Magellan Yates, for many years, and he provides a great service for investors looking for a curated product, and able to pay a monthly fixed fee, as opposed to per call.
In the table below, we seek to summarize Investment use of and access to current platforms. This information is changing all the time, and often different areas of a bank will have different access privileges. So, it’s important to check beforehand.