The volatile market conditions of recent years have only underscored how the battle-tested Investor Relations Officer has become indispensable in safeguarding the company’s most critical and intangible asset: its reputation with shareholders and other stakeholders.

The investor relations officer: A 2012 survey of Fortune 500 companies, a biannual study done in collaboration with the National Investor Relations Institute, shows that in the Fortune 500, the IR function is continuing to expand in importance, relevance, and value. Among the highlights of this report:

• More IROs have finance-related credentials: 21 percent are CPAs and 11 percent are have gained or are pursuing their CFA designation. 15 percent were formerly sell-side or buy-side analysts before entering IR.
• IR officers are earning more—the average cash compensation (salary plus bonus) is now $362,500. And despite tepid economic conditions, 67 percent of Fortune 500 IROs reported no reduction in any form of compensation since 2010.

The study, based on a survey of 163 IROs, also explores other facets of their backgrounds, the additional responsibilities they are taking on, the size of their departments, reporting structure, and employment agreements.

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