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A good retainer...a capital markets advisor waxes poetic on Investor Relations

A CEO wrote to me last week following a successful series of events that led to a jump in his Company's share price. I am the lead account director for this client at Grayling.

The action in and of itself is never the only goal of a proper investor relations consultant. Rather this is something left for stock promoters to do, something which Grayling is not.
Proper investor relations management is somewhat of a tough business. We wear many hats and we play doctor, psychiatrist, capital markets advisor, pr, speech and finance writer and logistics coordinator all at the same time.  At times we run the dog and pony show leading the CEOs that we work with to pick from a group of bankers, auditors or lawyers who we believe would service them and subsequently their shareholders best.
Share appreciation is sometimes the results of solid investor relations execution but more likely than not and hopefully, a result of the Company's financial fundamentals and execution of its management teams' strategies.
As an IR consultant to my clients, in the best of times I am a management teams' most trusted advisor because at Grayling, we do not take stock and are only paid via a retainer or project fee. In this way we are able to conscientiously deliver advice and good medicine even if it is a bitter pill to take since we have nothing more to gain than what we have already earned.
I do not know exactly why I share this with you right now, but I feel that it is an important moment in time in understanding that one must serve corporate issuers with objectivity and as a true consultant rather than looking at the client as another fee to bolster your own firm’s revenues. As I look to 2011, I can only hope for an improved financial climate and as many have expressed, am guessing that it will be a better year than 2010. 
So back to the note, after receiving such a lovely note from the client, I wrote back, 
"There is a book of philosophy that I read often as a reminder. It is titled, The Way of the Samurai or Hidden By Leaves by Yamamoto Tsunetomo written between 1709-1716.
One of the passages read like this and I meditate on its meaning often. It is translated from Japanese, but the philosophy is a blend of Zen Buddhism and Confucianism.
The Way of the Samurai is found in death.

When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one's aim is to die a dog's death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. And when pressed with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one's aim.
We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin and dangerous line. To die without gaining one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism.

But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he pains freedom in the Way.

His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.

A man is a good retainer to the extent that he earnestly places importance in his master. This is the highest sort of retainer. If one is born into a prominent family that goes back for generations, it is sufficient to deeply consider the matter of obligation to one's ancestors, to lay down one's body and mind, and to earnestly esteem one's master.

It is further good fortune if, more than this, one has wisdom and talent and can use them appropriately.
But even a person who is good for nothing and exceedingly clumsy will be a reliable retainer if only he has the determination to think earnestly of his master. Having only wisdom and talent is the lowest tier of usefulness."
Integrity is important; one earns the trust of the client and makes it easier for them to swallow bitter medicine when they need to. Especially when in the long run it helps them after all.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.