The Canadian IR profession will drop anchor in Halifax, Nova Scotia on June 9-11 for the 32nd annual CIRI conference. The conference co-chairs – Nathalie Megann, vice president of IR and corporate affairs at Chorus Aviation, and Ryder McRitchie, vice president of capital markets and PR at Jupiter Networks – explain that this year’s ‘Staying on Course’ theme is inspired by both the rough weather and the headwinds IROs face.
‘As the old adage goes, change is the only constant in life,’ Megann and McRitchie write on the event website. ‘What that means for those at the helm of IR is quite often some form of bad weather attempting to blow your company off course and onto the rocks. As a result, it’s a constant challenge for IROs to navigate their way forward through rough waters and keep their company safely on course to its desired destination.’
Riders on the storm: The event headliners are used to navigating choppy waters calmly. On Monday morning, Scott Balfour, president and CEO of Emera – Canada’s largest investor in regulated electricity generation – will discuss how he approaches delivering value to shareholders and communities through the company’s clean energy efforts. A former CFO of Aecon and Emera who started his career in financial services, Balfour will share his views on the role of IR and how it contributes to the success of Emera today.
The final session of the conference – on Tuesday morning – will look at the role IROs can play in the boardroom, serving as trusted advisers to directors. Colleen Johnston, director at Shopify and WestJet, former CFO of TD Bank and winner of multiple IR Magazine Awards in Canada, will be joined on stage by Maryse Saint-Laurent, director at Turquoise Hill Resources and Guyana Goldfields. Together, they will discuss how they like to be briefed by IR, what topics they expect to hear about – and how IR professionals can learn to speak the language of the boardroom.
Deep dives and high tides: The agenda promises a deep dive into market structure and how it’s changing. This Monday morning session will set the tone for several of the event’s later sessions, covering Mifid II, the growth of ETFs and their impact on liquidity, and the arrival of new marketplaces, as well as topical mechanical issues with the market, such as the SEC and Canadian Securities Administrators’ access fee pilots.
The conference organizers have dedicated three sessions to ESG, covering it from several angles. On Monday morning, attendees will hear how issuers can make sense of the alphabet soup of ESG reporting. Expect to walk away knowing your SASBs from your GRIs and your CDPs from your TCFDs. Later on Monday attendees will have an opportunity to hear how investors are approaching ESG integration. More than $2.13 tn in assets under management are dedicated to sustainable investments in Canada alone, so the final ESG session of the conference – on Tuesday morning – will profile Bertrand Millot, vice president and head of investor stewardship at the Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépot et placement du Québec.
A port in the storm: Attendees hoping to soak up some of Halifax’s natural beauty are in luck. On Sunday, before the agenda fully begins, the conference organizers have arranged for Segway tours, kayak tours and walking tours of the city. Halifax has a colorful history, having purportedly been a haven for pirates, rum-runners and scoundrels. If that’s not your scene, you can instead keep an eye out for today’s nautical residents, ranging from seals and sea otters to lobsters, crabs and starfish. Naturally, the agenda has several placeholders for cocktail receptions during the conference and, as is the tradition, the theme for those will be revealed at the event.
This article was published in the summer 2019 issue of IR Magazine