FOUNDER & CEO, KIRCHHOFF CONSULT AG
Founder and CEO. Klaus Rainer Kirchhoff is one of the leading and most experienced consultants in the capital market with 68 IPO’s and 400 IR mandates during the last 20 years, a pioneer in his business. He is particularly interested in the topics of Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility and Politics. Through his company, Klaus Rainer Kirchhoff is also a pioneer in Annual Report Consultancy. His company was awarded “Best Annual Report Agency of the year” for the 6 years at LACP, USA. In 2005 he initiated the ‘Good Company Ranking’ of the leading European companies, now published every two years. His client list consists of some of the leading Brands and Organisations like for example Allianz, BMW, Daimler, Bayer, Henkel, telekom, the Federal Government of Germany and Volkswagen. He also acts as a Top Management coach.
In addition to several articles published in the economic press on issues such as Annual Reports, Going Public, Financial Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility, Kirchhoff published nine books about several communications topics. Over the past few years, Mr Kirchhoff has given lectures at several events at Universities, speeches at the Bombay Stock Exchange, in capital market conferences in Shanghai and at the Istanbul Finance Summit. Klaus Rainer Kirchhoff is Honorary General Consul of Romania in Nothern Germany for 6 years now. He is married to Dr. Andrea Kirchhoff, together they have four children.
I got into the communications industry rather by chance. I was a management assistant in an industrial group. One day my CEO came and told me that we had to publish an annual report for the first time. I was supposed to take care of it, hired an agency to produce the report. Then the head of the agency made me an offer to join him at 50% nominal value. Three years later we were by far the leading Annual Report Design Agency in Germany. Then our paths separated us and I founded my own agency 25 years ago.
We are active in three areas: reporting, investor relations and corporate social responsibility. There have been major changes in all three areas. The importance of CSR in the capital market is growing enormously. Investors are increasingly looking at issues such as governance and sustainability. Reputation becomes the new brand.
Companies in Europe are faced with an enormous challenge in financial communications. The European Union aims to make the European economy the most sustainable in the world. To this end, there are new reporting requirements (such as the non-financial statement), and the issue of sustainable finance is becoming the focus of interest.
One challenge for agencies is that new generations entering the labour market have different demands on their work and jobs than the generation of the last decades. This applies both to the demands placed on the content of the tasks and to the design of everyday working life. Here, topics such as work/life balance, flexibilisation, home office etc. are the focus of interest.
When the agency was founded, two demands were important to me: I wanted to work at C-level, i.e. topics decided by the board (e.g. annual report, transactions, reputation), and I wanted to have all the disciplines in the team that were needed for these demanding communication tasks. That’s why I have lawyers, CFA analysts, PR experts, journalists, communication designers, online experts and film producers in the agency. From the beginning, we have worked almost exclusively with our own people, without freelancers, as is the case in other agencies. This results in products and campaigns that incorporate all disciplines and take all important aspects into account.
It will be a great challenge in the coming months to make the agency punishable. In the foreseeable future, we will experience a significant decline in the capital market, perhaps even a crash. As in the past, this will have a considerable influence on budgets. We are therefore restructuring the agency so that we can be more flexible and react more quickly to changes in the market. To this end, we have just adopted our new strategy, which we have done regularly in the past. We are also strengthening the important area of CSR consulting, which will play an increasingly important role in corporate communications. We are the only agency that also provides IPO consulting at the highest level. This is where we see an opportunity to make some exciting deals a success this year, before the capital market falls into difficult waters.
In the strategy we have just adopted, we have focused on making the Agency more flexible, on building more focused teams and on achieving even better results. Through increased networking, the publication of my 10th book, many lectures and studies, we are able to address topics such as integrated reporting, CSR and IPO in our market. For example, we have just completed a study that research wit artificial intelligence the influence of the CEO statement in annual reports on the valuation of the company.
The most difficult moment in my career was when, after the collapse of the Neuer Markt in 2000, I had to lay off half of my staff so that the agency could survive. Because in previous years we had half of our income from IPOs. After the collapse of the Neuer Markt, there were no IPOs in Germany for a few years. As a consequence, we have broadened the agency’s scope, opened up new business areas such as CSR and now have a more balanced relationship between the various business areas. Today we can also act more flexibly and increase sales without having to hire new employees.
The feedback we get from our customers can be summarized as follows: a very experienced team, always available, first-class work, and: it was a lot of fun. This is the reason why we serve many customers over many years, often more than 10 years. 11 of my 55 employees have been with the agency for more than 10 years, 6 for more than 20 years. This wealth of experience and commitment is what makes the agency so successful.
I see our agency as a platform that enables young talents to develop and realize their potential. We do not live in hierarchies, we give a lot of freedom and trust from the beginning, we allow mistakes, we are interested in people and not in manpower. In this way we create a strong team spirit and a very familiar atmosphere. I think it is this mixture that motivates the employees. Motivation must come from the inside, not from the outside. I see it as my management task to make this possible and to help.
In addition to content knowledge, an understanding of communication and communication techniques, the most important prerequisite for a career is to develop a convincing personality. This includes personal skills as well as a broad knowledge of the topics that determine the business, reading, reading, reading, being well informed about the customer, his market and his competitors (best practice), developing good at least English language skills, and being able to smile.
What do you love most about Your City?
Hamburg is a very green city, with many trees, parks etc. But the most beautiful places are the Alster lake in the center of the city and the Port of Hamburg. Walking along the river Elbe early in the morning is the perfect start into the day.
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?
The favorite breakfast I get in the best “restaurant” in the city, the kitchen of my wife. She cooks ayurvedic food and that is delicious. For lunch and dinner I love to be in the Nikkei Nine Restaurant in the “Vier Jahreszeiten Hotel”.
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – I am practicing Qigong. Ten years ago I had a physical break down and discovered Qigong. It helped me to recover without any doctor or pharmaceuticals and since that time I practice Qigong every day, sometimes several times a day. It is a 4.000 year old self healing method from China, the best way to find your balance in stressful everyday life.
10:00 AM – At ten I have my first breakfast while reading the newspapers to be informed about market developments. For 15 hours after dinner I don’t eat anything.
12:00 PM – Favorite Power Lunch spot/meal?
Sometimes ayurcedic food at home, sometimes Lebanese or Indian food. But my favorite Lunch spot is the Deniz Yildiz restaurant in the Asian part of Istanbul, directly at the Bosphorus.
7:00 PM – I enjoy dinner at home or in a restaurant with friends.
11:00 PM – I am sleeping after I meditated before together with my wife. Or I enjoy my life…
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
I need liters of water with ginger during the day. And in the evening I love to relax with a gin tonic or a good Sake.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
Twitter. I follow the most important newspapers and news channels and some great guys from politics (like Fareed Zaharia) and economics (like Paul Krugman) during the day, so that I am updated all time. My favorite Instagram Accounts are those of my four children.
What should everyone try at least once?
To forget everything you learned from your parents, school teachers and relidion and to find your own way through meditation.
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
In a great city like Paris, Istanbul or Shanghai. To explore the city without any plan. If you do this intense and without any prejudices you have the chance to understand the city and the people living there.