My day at the NIRI conference

I was only able to spend one day out of five at this year's NIRI conference in Orlando, which meant I had to cram all...

I was only able to spend one day out of five at this year's NIRI conference in Orlando, which meant I had to cram all the NIRI activity I could into about 8 1/2 short hours.

There was a morning presentation from NYSE CEO John Thain to start. Among the points he made:

  • New York is still the financial capital of the world, but London is catching up.

  • Lots of private equity money has created a bubble that will have to be deflated carefully

  • NYSE's acquisition of EuroNext will lead to efforts to lower the cost of trading in Europe

  • IR officers need to know their business, speak honestly, and be responsive to stakeholders

The increasing business responsibility for IR pros was echoed by NIRI interim CEO Linda Kelleher, who emphasized their importance to both the daily business efforts and communications work at a company, when I walked with her on the exhibit floor. The conference was also a place to introduce NIRI's new VP of communication, Matt Brusch, a veteran IR professional and 10-year NIRI member.

I sat in on a conversation between IR officers from the World Wrestling Entertainment, Harley Davidson, and Blockbuster. Interesting - because they're in the leisure industry, they end up with small investors who are also tremendous fans. They each reported having one-on-one conversations with excited stockholders who own only a few shares but have a ton of suggestions, some of them good.

Finally, I spoke with Bruce Aust, EVP of the corporate client group at NASDAQ. I brought the day full circle to ask him whether he thought London was going to overtake NY as the world's financial capital. "There's plenty to go around," was his response.

With the few minutes I had in between meetings and ice cream, I had a chance to walk around the Marriott/Ritz-Carlton resort where the conference was being held. A few minutes in the sun, a walk by the pool, and I touched a lizard. We were only a short distance from Disneyland, but the golf courses in between meant there was no trace of Mickey Mouse anywhere.

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