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Jul 10, 2016

Timesavers' guide to Shareholder Services Association's annual conference

SSA will commemorate 70 years of history on July 19-22 in Chicago

The Shareholder Services Association (SSA) is celebrating its 70th anniversary at its annual conference on July 19-22 at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park, with roughly 200 people expected to attend

With the theme, ‘Learning from the past and preparing for the future,’ the conference will kick off informally on Tuesday, July 19 with a welcome reception, followed by an awards dinner that will celebrate seven decades of the organization by asking people to dress up in garb from their favorite decades. Among other things, attendees will get to hear Carl Hagberg, publisher of the Shareholder Service Optimizer, recount humorous tales from the days before automated shareholder service systems, says Mark Gereb, co-chair of this year’s conference.

The conference will officially open on July 20 with a keynote address by former Chicago Bears player and motivational speaker Matt Mayberry. In the opening session, attendees will take a deep dive into the moves toward dematerialization and a shorter T+2 day period for settling securities trades that the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC) has been working toward over the past two years.

‘SSA members will have a first-hand glimpse at how dematerialization works within a company and there will be a representative from the DTCC there to talk about the push from T+3 to T+2,’ says Abby Cowart, who was appointed the SSA’s first executive director last November. The opening session will also cover the proposed new rules for dematerialization and audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions that perhaps haven’t been addressed publicly before.

A separate session on July 20 will review regulatory updates from the SEC, New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, and will feature representatives from the SEC’s Trading and Markets department and the Office of Compliance & Inspection. Among the regulatory topics that SSA members are most interested in is a proposed rule that would require issuers to pay to gain access to the names and contact information of beneficial shareowners whose shares are held by Wall Street brokerage firms. Kim Bouch, co-chair of this year's conference, adds, 'One of the draws of the SSA conference is the forum it provides for members to hear differing perspectives on key regulatory issues and for posing relevant questions to representatives from regulatory agencies.'

Highlights of the sessions on July 21 include ‘A year in review of unclaimed property and discovering what’s next,’ which will cover the Uniform Law Commission and the changes it has tried to enforce. Other sessions include ‘The changing landscape of DRIPs and DSPPs,’ covering the evolution of dividend reinvestment plans and direct stock purchase plans, and ‘The latest in navigating the waters of cybersecurity,’ which continues to be a hot topic among SSA members.

On Thursday night, July 21, attendees will be treated to a special commemorative dinner among beluga whales, stingrays and a host of other sea creatures at the Shedd Aquarium, built in 1930 by the same architectural firm responsible for the legendary Wrigley Building.

Among the things being done differently this year are four breakout sessions that will serve as open forums in which people from the same industry can gather in circles and compare how efficiently they are able to handle certain obligations.‘The forums serve as a method for conference attendees to compare and contrast their current operations with their peers. They can each take new ideas back to their respective employers/companies for efficiency and cost-savings strategies,' says Cowart.

David Bogoslaw

Associate Editor and Online features producer for Corporate Secretary