Timesavers’ Guide: SCSGP conference commemorates 70 years
To celebrate its 70th anniversary, the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals is returning to the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs for its annual conference on June 22-25. Like the sprawling mountain getaway, the society has expanded and changed over the years, and this year’s conference is organized around the theme of how recognizing where corporate governance has been in years past frames where it’s going.
By the end of the conference, the society may have been relabeled the Society for Corporate Governance, a proposed renaming that will be put to a member vote.
As they did last year, pre-conference events will kick off with an Investor Forum on June 22, with at least 14 major investors on hand, including BlackRock, Fidelity and Vanguard. The forum is ‘a great way for small and mid-cap companies to have some interaction with investors they typically don’t have,’ says Virginia Fogg, general counsel of Norfolk Southern Corp and this year’s conference chair. Based on last year’s success, the forum has been expanded to include more investors this year.
Two pre-conference workshops on ethics will be held on June 22: the first will focus on technology and ethics, the second on ethics, morality and risk in law and business.
Conference sessions will be offered in four distinct tracks, geared to members from large-cap, mid-cap, small-cap and private companies. For the latter, one highlight will be a session called ‘Going public, going private’, which will examine the laws that would apply to public and private firms either preparing for an IPO or preparing to be taken private. It will look at ‘the governance considerations in changing your [company’s] status from one to the other’, including such issues as managing a spin-off and related types of capital structure questions, says Fogg.
Another key session will focus on litigation risk for corporate secretaries and will provide a closer look at some key features of portals and other kinds of electronic board books, with an eye toward managing additional risks for e-discovery, for example, created by the expanding use of these kinds of technology. When this session was offered last year, ‘there were so many questions that we ran out of time. It was very popular so that’s the only one we’re repeating this year,’ Fogg says.
A session that will bring attendees up to date on the expanded adoption of proxy access this season will feature Scott Zdrazil, director of strategy and corporate engagement for the Office of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and a representative from Vanguard who will provide some insight into the recent change in the investment firm’s views on the topic.
The keynote speaker for lunch on June 23 will be Chris Whipple, writer and executive producer of Showtime documentary The Spymasters: CIA in the crosshairs, who will address issues such as the importance of teamwork and leadership that are as relevant in the world of corporate governance as in the political intelligence arena.
Another topical session will focus on best practices when shareholder activism brings additional people into the boardroom, including dissident board members and external advisers. Additional sessions will focus on governance basics such as recruiting board candidates with qualifications, tenure and diversity considerations in mind, board evaluations, executive compensation disclosure rules, subsidiary management and budget proxy drafting.
In addition to visiting the booths of service providers set up in the exhibit hall, for the first time attendees will be able to gather for learning labs hosted by eight exhibitors during designated breaks. These 30-minute information sessions will each focus on a particular area of technology and other products the service provider offers.
The closing night dinner by the Broadmoor’s pool will be a birthday celebration for the society, with current and former leaders sharing recollections about some of the dominant governance issues during their terms in office. And with the wide variety of nature packages available at the resort, from zipline courses to cliff-dwelling and other tours, the society is leaving it to the members to arrange their own recreational activities.