Conferences Grew Nearly 30% in 2022 But Sell-side Conferences Barely Budged

Conferences came roaring back in 2022, but bank=sponsored conferences grew less than 2%, according to data supplied by investor relations platform provider Virtua. Physical conferences resumed and virtual conferences waned.

More conferences

The number of conferences in 2022 tracked by Virtua’s StockConferenceCalendar service increased by 29% from 2021, achieving the highest level over the last six years. In contrast, bank-sponsored conferences increased only 1.7% as many banks constrained their corporate access programs. The market share of bank-sponsored conferences shrank to 33% in 2022 from 45% the prior year.

Credit Suisse surpassed rival UBS as the top conference organizer among banks, as UBS radically downsized its conference sponsorship from 205 conferences in 2021 to 97 in 2022. Third-ranked Citi cut back more modestly, reducing its conference sponsorship by 16%.

Some smaller investment banks, such as Redeye Capital, Stephens, and Sanford Bernstein, aggressively expanded their conferences in 2022. Fourth-ranked Jefferies also upped their conferences to 70 in 2022 from 48 in 2021.

In contrast, many of the bulge banks dialed back. Besides UBS and Citi, JP Morgan and Goldman both reduced their conference sponsorship.

Only a few more bank sponsors

The overall number of conference sponsors increased 14% in 2022, from 388 in 2021 to 442. The number of non-bank sponsors increased less than half that rate (6%).

Favorite locations

The number of virtual-only conferences shrank nearly 40% in 2022, as physical conferences once again became the most popular form.

New York and London resumed as most favored physical locations while Singapore displaced Hong Kong as the most popular Asian venue. Seven of the top fifteen venues were located in North America.

The analysis is based on data supplied by Virtua StockConferenceCalendar, considered to be the largest global database of investment conferences and presenters. Virtua is a financial services technology company focused on providing platform-based analytical tools and services tailored to the workflow needs of Investor Relations (IR) professionals and publicly traded issuers. Although the firm is headquartered in Boston, much of the analysis and data collection is done in India.

Virtua, which provides platform-based analytical services for Investor Relations (IR) professionals, acquired StockConferenceCalendar in 2015 from Dremer IR Counsel, an IR consulting company.

Our Take

Although virtual conferences are no longer the norm, they won’t be going away. Their advantages of convenience, global reach, and reduced travel costs are supplemented by greater ease in organizing, which means that virtual conferences will continue to be popular for topical events. Nevertheless, virtual conferences can’t fully replicate the networking offered by physical conferences. After two years of Covid isolation, demand for physical conferences was overwhelming. Perhaps successive years will balance out virtual and physical conferences more evenly.