CFOs need to understand the dynamics of the capital market, investors’ criteria for success and analysts’ way of thinking. That is crucial in order to be able to portray a company as an attractive investment, says CFO of DSV Panalpina Jens H. Lund.

In the Danish OMXC25 stock index, no one came close to the performance of the worldwide transportation enterprise DSV Panalpina in 2019. The company’s share yielded a notable 79.6 per cent overall return, thereby securing the position as the fastest growing OMXC25 index stock of the year.

According to the company’s CFO, Jens H. Lund, the great development should be seen as an endorsement of the company’s business model as well as a sign of the shareholders’ high confidence that DSV, after the acquisition of Panalpina, can integrate the company, benefit from synergies and maintain the high volume it has had so far.

“If we cut to the chase, it’s about our operators being unmatched. After all, our earnings depend on how many consignments our operators can transport per day and the gross profit of the given consignments,” says Jens H. Lund, and explains further:

“Our IT infrastructure enables our operators to process shipments faster than any of our competitors. We have a high degree of automation as well as efficient and scalable systems that have been refined over the course of many years. That gives our operators the support they need to excel.”

In addition, the CFO attributes part of the reason for the impressive development to good IR.

“We keep our commitments to investors. We talk to them, keep them updated and do not mince our words. They give us money, and we send money back. It’s as simple as that, and it’s been like that for years."

Jens H. Lund, CFO, DSV Panalpina

It is all about transparency

Jens H. Lund has broad management responsibilities at DSV Panalpina, including finance, IT, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and project management office (PMO). One of his key tasks is to create transparency within the business in order to ensure that operators are given the best basis for decision‑making.

“We are known for having a decentralised business model. That is only possible with a high degree of transparency of performance. Our view is that we will all do the same, if we have the same information available. We have, therefore, put a lot of focus on creating that transparency. We see that our operators make the right decisions with the assistance of that transparency. We can keep an eye on whether this is the case ongoingly and so can the individual operator,” he says.

Anyone who has talked to Jens H. Lund about DSV Panalpina’s way of doing business will have heard him emphasise the importance of transparency. It is an absolute key concept for the group – the foundation of factual discussions, honesty and decency.

“Transparency is the be‑all and end‑all, and I explode if it’s not there. But that’s because it’s so crucial to our success,” he says.

The same goes for the company’s IR. The company takes pride in answering every question from analysts. And slipping anything under the radar is out of the question.

“Everything we do has to be transparent and has to be able to withstand being thoroughly scrutinised. If you cannot vouch for what you do, it’s not sustainable.”

“Everything we do has to be transparent and has to be able to withstand being thoroughly scrutinised. If you cannot vouch for what you do, it’s not sustainable.”

Jens H. Lund, CFO, DSV Panalpina

On terms with the investors

As a trained accountant and experienced corporate finance adviser, Jens H. Lund has a good understanding of the capital market and its dynamics. And that has been pivotal for DSV Panalpina’s approach to IR.

“For us, it’s essential to boil things down to something investors can relate to and understand. And we’re completely honest. If our plan was to save DKK 100 somewhere and we reached DKK 90, we will let you know the reasons why and what we’ve learned from them. Investors understand that. They make investments on a daily basis and know that results may end up slightly above or below expectations,” he says, and adds:

“We understand the investors’ criteria for success and the analysts’ way of thinking, and we are very capital market oriented.”

The company’s IR is considered among the best in the industry by many investors and analysts. Jens H. Lund points out that IR does play a part in the financial success of the global freight forwarder.

“We’ve been able to accomplish our equity story, complete acquisitions and increase productivity. Combined with professional investor relations, this has made our share an attractive investment.”

Jens H. Lund, CFO, DSV Panalpina

DSV Panalpina’s IR function handles crucial stakeholder management and relieves the pressure on the group’s senior management, CEO Jens Bjørn Andersen and CFO Jens H. Lund.

“Our IR department does an indispensable job, but, ultimately, it’s management’s responsibility to make it all work. So, if there are any problems, look at yourself in the mirror and don’t point your finger at others.”

Take the bull by the horns

Management must be prepared to get down to work, get into the thick of things and without hesitation put itself at the forefront of complex projects.

“That Panalpina and UTi failed to consolidate their IT infrastructure, and thereby ended up with lower productivity than DSV, was, in our opinion, a result of the fact that responsibility was handed to a single IT guy who had to solve the problems by himself. And that doesn’t add up,” he says.

Unlike at many other companies, the DSV Panalpina management defines the scope of a given IT project, allocates the necessary resources and sets a date for the rollout. The senior management keeps the full overview of the group’s needs and also identifies the three‑four goals a given project must focus on achieving.

“When you do IT, it will often fail if too many people in the organisation have to co‑decide and define goals and functionalities. That’s why you have to roll up your sleeves yourself,” he says.

However, DSV’s approach does not come without a cost.

“Dissatisfaction can arise, and when we roll out a project, I spend half of my time attending meetings with the sole purpose of cementing and clarifying our decisions. That doesn’t come without a cost, and many company managements don’t bother to do the hard follow‑up every time,” he says.

But Jens H. Lund has learned from his mistakes, and if you want to succeed and be the best, you can only afford to make the same mistake once:

“When I first started at DSV and didn’t have that much IT knowledge, I thought they’d probably figure that part out themselves. Otherwise, I would have had to get into a lot of stuff, and that seemed like a big hassle. But that was definitely one of the stupidest things I’ve done, because the mess I’ve had to clean up afterwards hasn’t exactly been small.”

Four concrete IR advices from Jens H. Lund

  1. Get into the substance of things
    Nothing beats hard work, humility and the willingness to understand. Take the time to delve into the dynamics of the market, run it through with your advisers, and prepare thoroughly.
  2. Communicate the potential
    Your company is on a journey from one point to another, and it’s up to you as the CFO to understand what it takes to succeed and identify the potential that lies ahead. It’s within this communication and narrative that value is created.
  3. Keep learning along the way
    When working transparently, you’ll be criticised if your plan doesn’t hold up. You’ll have to accept that! Learn from it, and adjust accordingly. Relying on absolute power will get you nowhere.
  4. Prioritise your time
    Professional IR takes time. I spend 10 per cent of my week doing that even though we have many integrated concepts and several years of experience with that kind of work. So, set aside the necessary time.

Contact us

Kim Hendil Tegner

Partner and CFO Programme Leader

+45 30 93 64 46

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