Experiencing a relief from the physical and mental stress with the application of the Interview Schedule Calendar
TOTO Co., Ltd.
Mr. Kentaro Izui
Ms. Atsuko Kuno
In 2017, TOTO Ltd. celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding under the company slogan, “Our aim is to be a reliable company to the people of the world by contributing to the social development.” TOTO’s vision for the next 100 years is to “To Increase TOTO fans all over the world” by taking foresight as a strength, manufacturing from the customer’s point of view, and being enthusiastic about social contribution activities.
We asked representatives in charge of IR operations, who also take stakeholder value creation into consideration, to reflect on the challenges they have faced and the changes they have seen since the introduction of Minsetsu.
Could you share with us the operation issues so far?
More than three years ago, we used to write down appointments for interviews coordinated by e-mail or telephone on a calendar printed on paper, but this led to many missing entries. In addition to the paper-based system, we also managed the interviews in Excel, which was a double-blocking process. Even if we managed both, it was inevitable that double bookings and miscommunications would occur, and in the end, we sometimes caused inconvenience to institutional investors. So, we were looking for a tool that would reduce the workload of scheduling and avoid human error, and we wanted to make sure that not only the IR staff but also other employees who should share the schedule could view it to ensure that nothing was left out.
Since we did not organize and consolidate information or list institutional investors, we had to rely on memory to re-trace information that may have been written to an Excel interview management file. We wanted to solve these difficulties.
Could you share with us how you came across Minsetsu *1 and what made you decide to apply?
We received several e-mails about the Interview Schedule Calendar*2, learned more about the service, and started a free trial. We had to first consult with our procurement department in order to introduce the service. The most difficult part there was to convince them by presenting the materials we had gathered. We were required to present them including comparisons with other companies. But when we actually tried the free trial, we found that the system did not require us to write or erase anything on a paper calendar, so there were no mistakes; investors could check the dates available for interviews on the system and choose their own dates; and as a result, only one communication was needed (the interview arrangement rally). We explained to the procurement department that this would be very useful, and they agreed to apply this system.
It may be a small thing, but working on paper was stressful because of eraser shavings and ink pens running out of ink quickly. Now that we can handle things digitally, these physical stresses have also been alleviated.
*1 Minsetsu: a free service for the companies’ IR to post a financial results briefing, make arrangements with securities companies/institutional investors, and make meeting minutes.
*2 Interview Schedule Calendar: Minsetsu System that allows you to create the interview schedule with the company’s institutional investors, sharing the URL with securities companies/institutional investors to make the interview arrangements easy.
Could you share with us how you are utilizing the application?
Three members of the Company’s Corporate Planning Group2 are responsible for IR operations. (as of March 2021)
Each quarter, we hold 50 to 60 interviews with only three speakers.
We use Minsetsu to manage our interview schedule, announce our financial results, and post information on our financial results briefings. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, we also hold financial results briefings online, and it is convenient for us to post the ID and password for the webinar as well. We consult with Minsetsu staff two months prior to the announcement of financial results regarding the Interview Schedule Calendar. We do not inform securities companies and institutional investors of the Interview Schedule Calendar, but many of them have already requested it through the system. If they register by other means, we attach the URL of the Interview Schedule Calendar so that we can consolidate the scheduled dates.
In some cases, investors prefer to register by phone or e-mail, but recently we have responded, “We do not accept registrations other than through the Interview Schedule Calendar.” When we first started using Minsetsu, some investors were concerned because many were not yet familiar with the system. However, when they actually used the system, they no longer have any doubts, and they are realizing its effectiveness. Except for securities companies and institutional investors, which require time to introduce the system due to security reasons, we have been able to smoothly introduce the system without any problems.
What has changed since you introduced the system?
Institutional investors now register directly with us, which was a big change. As you can imagine, having securities companies act as intermediaries to contact institutional investors was a time-consuming process; sometimes it took an entire day just to confirm one thing. This caused us to worry about unnecessary things. In addition, we had to frequently communicate with securities companies by e-mail and phone, and constantly look at paper calendars to arrange schedules. Each time we had to decline an offer, we also had to prepare a letter of apology. So much stress and workload we used to have to deal with. Today, we no longer have to make these adjustments ourselves, as we use the Interview Schedule Calendar to keep available dates for interviews.
Other than those mentioned above, the number of appointments for interviews with institutional investors, who had not requested through securities companies, has also been increasing. Just the other day, we had our first interview with an overseas institutional investor who had never made an appointment before. They knew our products, recognized them as excellent, and made an appointment for an individual interview through Minsetsu. This may mean it was difficult for them to understand how to apply for an interview in the past.
Could you share with us what issues have you resolved since applying the system?
Again, we feel less stressed about communication and spend less time making arrangements. We also feel that the number of phone calls has been reduced and the time spent on arrangements has been cut in half or less. Since we are multitasking with management planning work, we can now spend more time meeting with members of the management team and the group. In addition, we used to rely on the memory of the person in charge, but now that more than 90% of our interviews are conducted through Minsetsu, it is easier to search for information, and our work efficiency has definitely improved.
Lastly, could you share with us your expectations for Minsetsu?
Minsetsu has been updating useful information and service improvements for IR activities. In fact, when we requested service improvements, it took only one month for the improvements to be made, which is the best proof of this. Minsetsu’s staff understand the IR staff’s point of view and are very reliable. Of course, not only does the service meet our objectives, but it is also a contract based on a relationship of trust between people.
Our next challenge is to make arrangements for investors to have a dialogue with management when they request it in earnest. We hope that Minsetsu will provide us with actual examples of conversations between management and investors, as well as data showing the ratios. We would like Minsetsu to continue to provide services to make IR work easier.
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