When the Covid-19 pandemic shut the world down last year, there was little time for anyone to adapt. But for the business of corporate access — which until last year connected investors and companies largely through travel and in-person events — the transition was especially stark.
For Brazilian provider BTG Pactual, this happened in the middle of a roadshow where, after one day of meetings, the event went instantly, if unexpectedly, virtual on the second day.
“Companies from their end understood that they had to be in contact with investors and clients and converted their interactions to online meetings as well,” recalls Carlos Sequeira, head of research at BTG Pactual. “Our straight relationship with IR and management teams helped to enhance the events calendar with several online group meetings since the first week of lockdown.”
The firm’s ability to keep the virtual show on the road illustrates why, once again, BTG Pactual has been ranked first by money managers and corporations in Institutional Investor’s 2021 edition of Latin America’s Top Corporate Access Providers.
Nearly 230 investors from 177 firms voted to represent the buy-side point of view. They were asked to rate firms across six attributes: conferences; field trips; logistics; roadshows; team quality; and virtual events in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and North Andean Countries.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. placed second in this ranking, followed by Bradesco BBI in third. Santander and XP Investimentos placed fourth and fifth, respectively. In line with other II surveys, responses were weighted by each respondent’s commission spending in the region.
Another leaderboard weighted by assets under management was also produced. In these AUM-weighted rankings, the top four firms were unchanged, with Credit Suisse replacing XP Investimentos at No. 5.
Like BTG Pactual, JPMorgan has worked to overcome the obstacles of moving corporate access online. “The playbook for in-person events doesn’t translate to virtual. Switching to virtualization was the big change, finding the right format and providers for the best delivery,” said Camila Penna, the firm’s head of EMEA and Latin America cash equities sales and execution services sales. Going forward, Penna expects to see a hybrid approach with a blend of virtual and in-person events, “as providing value to the clients with our events will continue to be our top priority,” she added.
BTG Pactual’s Sequeira also sees a slow return to normal where “online and in-person events will walk side by side now.” Obstacles remain in the form of logistical bottlenecks for large events and the resurgences of the pandemic in the region. “This sector has suffered more than any other the effects of the pandemic,” he says. “Also [there is the] insecurity of not knowing when this pandemic will end for good so that we can go back 100 percent as it was before.”
The bank has offered several events of all sizes in a hybrid and virtual environment, from one-on-ones to small investor circles and conferences that topped more than 200 hundred corporates and 2000 clients.
There is a cost-savings component in addition to efficiency for both investors and corporates in this new normal. “We used the fact that online events are incredibly cheaper than in-person ones and also more practical since a CEO or CFO can talk to a client in Rio, New York, or Sweden on the same day, and sold many events opportunities as such post-earnings online group meetings, panels, conferences and [non-deal roadshows],” Sequeira said.
But after more than a year and a half of meeting virtually, investors and corporates are eager for in-person interaction, he added. “Interactions flow smoothly now as the world is totally integrated in this format and the outstanding number of offerings in the region took great advantage of it since both corporates and clients can meet a larger number of clients in a shorter period,” Sequeira said. “But there is a sense that people are Zoomed out and will privilege in-person contacts as soon as travelling is safe again.”
II also produced a top 10 leaderboard to reflect the opinions of the 110 corporate respondents who participated in the survey. In this ranking, BTG Pactual repeated at No. 1, followed by Itau BBA in second. Credit Suisse ranked third, while JPMorgan and Santander placed fourth and fifth, respectively.