At November’s Annual Conference in Boston, AFP caught up with Jeff Johnson, CTP, CPA, treasurer and vice president, Investor Relations at Deluxe Corp. and a member of AFP’s Board of Directors, to get his thoughts on investor relations in corporate treasury.
AFP: How is your treasury department structured, and how does investor relations roll up into that?
Jeff Johnson: I’ve got, within the treasury group, a fairly standard mix of cash management… we have a centralized cash management team. They do a tremendous job, by the way. We’ve got defined contribution retirement plans that roll up to us, and a little bit of defined benefit. There’s also the risk management group. So, business continuity planning, as well as traditional insurance and then the investor relations function also rolls up into us… it’s mostly me and one other lady who does a nice job with us. And then a little bit more unusual, we also have equity compensation plans that roll up into us.
AFP: When you have disappointing information, how do you present it to investors in a positive or balanced way?
Johnson: When you’re presenting to investors, one of the key aspects is trying to be transparent and making sure that they understand what the drivers of your business are. It’s less about trying to spin them and more about trying to give them context. So if you have bad information, you need to make sure you’re putting it into a holistic context of what all is happening; what’s going on in the business from a broad perspective. What are the different things are impacting it? So they can get a better feeling of how to evaluate the business, rather than just focusing on one item that may be particularly good or particularly bad.
AFP: How much time do you spend preparing for black swan events, such as tsunamis, earthquakes and economic crises?
Johnson: Organizationally, we actually spend quite a bit of time on enterprise risk management, as well as continuity planning, so those kinds of things would obviously fall into the black swan area. And so you will see senior management on a fairly regular basis and on a systemized basis talking about what kinds of things economically, externally and internally could potentially impact us. And that systemized process will roll all the way up into the board. So we actually do a pretty nice job of thinking through many of those things. Now, I’d be remiss to say that we could do a good job of predicting what that next black swan could be, because if we did, I think I’d be much wealthier than I am today.