Today’s Investor Relations Officer is a leader required to have expertise in multiple areas – shareholder relations, strategy, finance, sustainability, communications, capital markets, ESG, and competitive intelligence. Nasdaq’s IntroToAnIRO feature highlights the IROs who perform this beyond the traditional role. Trent Kruse, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations & Treasury at RiteAid, brings us along his IR journey.
Trent Kruse was appointed senior vice president of investor relations, treasury and ESG for Rite Aid in September 2020. He is responsible for leading all aspects of the company’s investor relations, treasury, risk management and sustainability programs. Kruse joined Rite Aid from Scientific Games, a leader in the gaming and lottery industry, where he served as senior vice president of investor relations. Kruse is an award-winning head of investor relations, holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Texas A&M University and a master’s in finance from the University of Arizona.
How has the spread of COVID-19 affected your strategy as an IRO? Specifically, have you had to answer significant questions from investors around supply-chain impact?
COVID has been a significant topic in every investor interaction over the past year. The impact on our strategy has really been more of a reminder that a good Investor Relations team can anticipate key questions and concerns and be prepared to respond in a thoughtful manner.
We have absolutely dealt with questions around supply chain, labor shortages and general business impact as it relates to COVID. We, as a pharmacy, have also been administering COVID vaccines and testing, which has driven a lot of questions from investors and analysts as well.
How has your team prepped for earnings and post-earnings investor engagement?
Our prep for earnings is significant. Our ongoing outreach to investors and analysts helps inform us of the key topics and questions, and then we work to ensure that we are telling our companies story in the most thoughtful and impactful way possible. We spend time developing our key messages for the quarter and then always ensure that we have ample time to rehearse and prep with the leadership team so that everyone is incredibly well prepared for earnings and post-earnings investor conversations. Try to make the practice hard so that when the lights come on, the entire team is ready to go!
What advice do you have for the next generation of IR leaders?
Investor Relations has the word relations in it for a reason. Building and maintaining positive relationships is so critical. Ultimately, you are the conduit from Wall Street to management and vice-versa...building great relationships will allow you to serve that role and be a great advocate for the company you’re representing.
And a few great ways to foster these relationships are by being responsive, knowledgeable and well informed on all aspects of your business. An IRO has to have a deep knowledge and understanding of the entire business to truly deliver value in your investor interactions.
Finally, don’t forget about your internal audience. Make sure you are taking the time to educate and inform the associates across your organization. Associates are critical stakeholders, and keeping them up to speed on how the market is viewing the company is of tremendous value.
What is one important initiative that you’ve championed or experience that you’ve had as an IRO?
I have been leading IR at organizations for quite some time, and the role is constantly evolving. Recently, enhancing our communications around ESG initiatives has been critical, and we are really expanding how and what we are communicating around ESG. In addition, the past year has afforded us more opportunities to be creative in how we engage with investors and create great events in a virtual environment.
It’s impossible to point to one initiative or moment, but over the years, we have worked hard as a team to ensure we are a reliable, trusted and accessible team for our investors. Knowing investors’ value your insights and knowledge is the best recognition an IRO can receive.
What has been the most rewarding aspect as the IRO of RiteAid?
I love the people. We have a great team and a tremendous culture. Working with great people and having the autonomy to really create a new strategy and focus in IR at Rite Aid has been amazing.
At Rite Aid, our purpose is to help you achieve whole health for life. What continues to inspire me every day is how the entire organization truly embodies and embraces this purpose in everything we do.
What are some benefits you have seen from being an IR Intelligence client?
We use Nasdaq today at Rite Aid, and I have been a client of Nasdaq at previous stops as well. The quality of the team and breadth of information are truly outstanding. As an IRO who values responsiveness, I also really appreciate the team at Nasdaq’s ability to move quickly.
While you have been at RiteAid, can you recall a highlight while working with Nasdaq?
We utilize equity surveillance at Nasdaq, and I am continuously impressed with the value of the team’s insights and the proactive nature of their outreach. This partnership enables me to ensure I am well informed on what is driving our shares at any particular moment and develop strategies to work to enhance market perception.
Rite Aid Corporation is on the front lines of delivering healthcare services and retail products to Americans 365 days a year. Our pharmacists are uniquely positioned to engage with customers and improve their health outcomes. We provide an array of whole-being health products and services for the entire family through over 2,500 retail pharmacy locations across 17 states. Through Elixir, we provide pharmacy benefits and services to millions of members nationwide.