Where Have All the IRO’s Gone (CIRI 2007)

25 June 2007

CIRI’s annual conference took place in beautiful Whistler, BC, Canada last week. I have had a few calls from IR professionals asking me what I thought of the conference. While it would be easy for me to simply sum up my thoughts here on my blog I thought I would ask other attendees their views on the conference as well.

Responses from attendees ranged from “It was ok” to “It wasn’t bad”.

Not exactly the resounding praise that I’m sure organizers were hoping for. In the end, I would have to agree with the colleagues that I spoke to.

Having said that, this was my first CIRI conference since 2004 and I did see a slight improvement.

Highlights:

  • The IR Juggling Act session of Sunday afternoon offered some decent insight from the senior members of the panel who represented mid to large cap companies.
  • Darcy Rezac’s keynote presentation on the power of positive networking was a well received eye opener for many.
  • Jerry Grandey’s keynote presentation, although somewhat drab (he is the CEO of a uranium company, not a professional speaker), gave great insight into the top ten things to do in a crisis situation from an IR perspective.
  • Terry Lyons, member of the Board of Directors for Canaccord Capital, provided very candid comments on shareholder/board communications. I applaud Mr. Lyon for sparking debate and speaking the truth when projecting his viewpoints (sometimes the truth hurts, but it needs to be heard).

During one of the sessions a panelist (and senior IR professional) mentioned that IR was moving up the food chain in organizations. While years ago you would mainly see IR specialists and managers today we are seeing Directors, VP’s, and senior VP’s in charge of investor relations.

In looking at the registration list for the conference it appears as though the majority of attendees were the junior representatives of their respective IR teams. Don’t get me wrong, new and fresh members of the IR community are important and needed, BUT, where have all the IRO’s gone?

In speaking to a number of Directors, VP’s, and senior VP’s who did not attend this year’s conference, the main (and honest) reason given for not attending was because they simply did not see the necessary value to justify attending the conference.

It’s not an easy job setting up a conference like this, and it’s a daunting task trying to be everything to all attendees. CIRI is going through a lot of changes and I can only imagine how difficult it was to stage such a conference during these times of change.

I went into this conference with an open mind and no pre-conceived notions. I look forward to giving my detailed feedback to CIRI and I look forward to attending next year’s conference in Mont Tremblant, Quebec.

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