Finance Indaba 2016: INCE goes from printer to ground-breaker

"We offer clients an integrated, full-service offering for all their marketing needs – a real one-stop solution which delivers benefits in terms of value, consistency, confidentiality and sheer ease of doing business,” says Alban Atkinson, MD of integrated corporate communications agency INCE, a PLATINUM partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2016 on 13 and 14 October 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

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In the coming weeks and months, we will be chatting to all the Indaba partners, asking them why they are joining the event and what their most important message for finance professionals is.

Do you want to hear how INCE can take the stress out of meeting compliance requirements? Do you want to be informed about the latest and greatest in finance? Then don't miss the Finance Indaba Africa 2016.

A proudly South African company, Ince was founded in the 1920s as a family-run print shop for Rand pioneers. In the past 90-odd years, it has gone through various iterations, as it adapted to changing conditions, and is now a full-service, integrated communications agency and a leading provider of communication solutions across various mediums to clients throughout South Africa and beyond.

"A number of our clients deal specifically with one or other Ince division, and so are not fully aware of the total offering which is the Ince corporate communications solution. We offer clients an integrated, full-service offering for all their marketing needs - a real one-stop solution which delivers benefits in terms of value, consistency, confidentiality and sheer ease of doing business," says Atkinson.

With INCE's primary target market being JSE-listed companies, which have to communicate with shareholders according to exchange regulations and CFOs, whose teams often put the content together for these documents together, the decision to participate in the Finance Indaba was straightforward.

"Our business was built around helping firms to meet JSE compliance regulations, but we are now very much an investor-marketing agency that assists our clients to sell themselves better to investors, with a particular focus on retail investors. We want to showcase a range of solutions in this particular space at our Finance Indaba stand," explains Atkinson.

CFO SA MD Graham Fehrsen urges Finance Indaba attendees to pay a visit to the INCE stand because they will come away with valuable lessons.

"Ince are a well-known brand to many South African corporates for their brand and investor communication solutions. What's most striking about this business is their own evolution from printers to digital savvy ground-breaker. If you have the chance to hear Alban Atkinson of Ince talk about his own business transformation, you will realise that not only are their products and services world class, but that every business has the potential to fundamentally evolve and embrace digital today. It's inspiring stuff."

The award-winning agency employs teams of specialists, from creative and IT experts to financial gurus, in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape to find solutions for clients that come from a wide variety of sectors. These range from compliance and investor reporting to cross media response driven marketing campaigns.

"We have built a platform that enables listed companies to communicate with shareholders in a digital environment, as opposed to the old way of doing things - printing documents and sending them via the post office. We have an extensive database of 2,3 million shareholders and 1,8 million electronic contract records.

"We've also got an online proxy-voting platform, iProxy, that enables shareholders to vote in corporate elections and attend AGMs virtually. This and our other products allow shareholders to interact in a digital way, instead of going through the hassle of filling out and faxing forms and travelling to meetings. In this way, we encourage shareholder participation," explains Atkinson.

He says that INCE is able to help finance professionals take the stress and the stress and pressure out of meeting compliance requirements when it comes to traditional reports and documents that need to be sent out to shareholders.

"We also give feedback to CFO teams as to what the shareholders are doing with this information. We apply analytics to the documents to find out if, in fact, the shareholder read the document and how much time they spent reading various parts, turning it from a compliance document into an investor marketing one on which the client can take ongoing action."

As can be expected with a third-generation family business, honouring the Atkinson heritage is top of mind for major shareholders Alban and his brother, David, who serves as the CEO.

"As we head towards our centenary year, it is gratifying to look back and think of all the world events, technological advancements and economic challenges we have managed to adapt to. An example of this is our decision to exit the print arena and sell our last press in December 2013 to became a solely digital business. It is in our D

NA to reposition ourselves according to the prevailing conditions and it is our intention to continue in this manner."

What if an investor came along with an entirely different proposition?

"If somebody with a big chequebook came along and wanted to buy us, I suppose we would sit down and talk, but it hasn't happened yet!" he smiles.

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