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May 31, 2009

Timesaver's guide to CIRI and NIRI

Our guide to the upcoming CIRI and NIRI conferences 2009

June 14-16, Fairmont Empress, Victoria, BC

Who’s who
Not only does CIRI have a new president and CEO – Tom Enright – presiding over the conference after years of sponsoring, but it also has a new director of professional development, Yvette Lokker, formerly IR manager at MDS. Working with the CIRI staff are conference co-chairs Darren Seed, director of IR at Westport Innovations in Vancouver, and Steve Bonin, director of IR at BMO Financial Group in Toronto.

Shaping the agenda
Lokker masterminded a series of snap email surveys aimed at getting input from CIRI members during the months leading up to the conference. ‘We realize time away from the office is valuable, so the point is to make sure the sessions are as relevant as possible,’ she says.

Big shots
Don’t sleep in on Monday: the opening session with Gwyn Morgan, founding president and CEO of EnCana, is bound to be one of CIRI’s best wake-up calls ever. Tuesday morning begins with Donald Coxe, BMO Capital Markets’ former global strategist and a ‘phenomenal speaker’, according to Enright. Also unmissable is Tuesday’s controversial lunchtime speaker, BNN’s Andrea Mandel-Campbell, author of Why Mexicans don’t drink Molson.

New for vendors
A new session for vendors has been introduced this year: ‘What today’s IRO needs from suppliers’. ‘It will be like a day in the life of an IRO – how they develop their budgets, the challenges they face, and how vendors can best meet IROs’ needs,’ Seed says.

Global view
Seed is leading a session on Tuesday about taking your IR program outside North America. He spent last summer on Westport’s NASDAQ IPO, raising $54 mn. He describes taking his CEO and CFO on a roadshow to three countries in one day, having breakfast in Geneva, lunch in Paris and dinner in London.

Great escapes
Beyond the whale watching and culinary tours CIRI is organizing, Enright recommends exploring the Butchart Gardens, where the roses should be blooming among the 55 acres of flowers. Lokker’s tip is to drive to Oak Bay Marina to feed the seals, especially if you have kids with you.

All together now
Past conferences had invitation-only senior IR assemblies, ‘but this conference is very much an open platform where anyone can attend any session,’ Seed says. ‘In turbulent times, we all need to work together.’

Save the trees
Attendees can view the conference program on their BlackBerry with real-time updates, while T-shirts and big knapsacks have been dropped in favor of environmentally friendly shopping bags.

June 7-10, Westin Diplomat, South Florida

Working weekend
Sunday afternoon covers the basics with workshops like Finance 101 and skills builders such as ‘Creating compelling investor and analyst day presentations’. These events are being organized by Kraig Conrad, NIRI’s new vice president of professional development. He was previously head of the research and strategy practice at the Corporate Executive Board, and before that led corporate finance and risk management at the Association for Financial Professionals.

China connection
NIRI has teamed up with CCG Investor Relations to organize a Sunday afternoon workshop tailored for Chinese issuers. Crocker Coulson, president of CCG, plans to have input from the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the China Securities Regulatory Commission, and hopes the event may be the first step toward forming a Chinese IR society.

Ghosts of cool
The original Diplomat Hotel was the 1960s hangout of stars like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Gleason. On Tuesday evening, if you aren’t going out with one of your vendors, head into town for ‘a taste of vintage Hollywood’. Food tastings, wine samplings, vintage cars and celebrity look-alikes are being organized by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Crisis response
Don’t miss the Tuesday morning general session looking at new regulation coming out of Washington in the wake of the financial crisis. Former SEC chairmen David Ruder and Harvey Pitt will be joined by former Chicago Fed president and CEO Michael Moscow and Jeff Saut, Raymond James’ chief investment strategist.

Swing control
The Diplomat’s golf course is the only five-star-rated course in South Florida. Carts come with GPS, which not only gives you the lay of the course but also lets the cocktail waiter find you mid-game.

Rubbing elbows
Conference attendees always rave about the industry breakout discussions. ‘People like them because they can get down in the weeds and talk to their peers,’ explains conference co-chair Brad Wilks, Chicago CEO and managing director of Sard Verbinnen & Co.

Managing swag
The vendor area will be ‘as user-friendly as possible,’ says Wilks’ co-chair, Nicole McIntosh of Waddell & Reed Financial. ‘It’s an opportunity to shop for all your needs, with all the products and services under one roof.’ A central notice board will list all the different giveaways and contests.

Voice on Capitol Hill
On Monday, following Todd Buchholz’s speech, Buchholz will take Q&A in a ‘fireside chat’ while NIRI CEO Jeff Morgan leads a discussion of emerging issues in IR. ‘NIRI’s value proposition has historically been one of education and information. Increasingly, it’s also one of advocacy,’ Wilks says. ‘We’ll hear first-hand from the NIRI leadership about what the organization sees as the key emerging issues for IROs.’

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