Putting a bowtie on our Best Ideas

The final Best Ideas Session of the conference will kick off with Jeff Smith, who has spoken each year since our inaugural event.

Jeff is a managing member and the CEO and CIO of Starboard Value LP. Starboard is a NYC-based investment firm with approximately $6 billion in assets under management. Starboard focuses on underperforming U.S. companies, where it actively engages the management teams to drive operational change. Jeff has been on the Starboard team for almost two decades and was famously called “the most feared man in corporate America” by Fortune in 2014. As an investor, the Starboard team’s approach to investing is different from most: they look at what’s happening within the operations of the target investment companies and try and make it better, different, and on brand for what they do. Starboard views itself as highly operational to the extent that they can transform businesses.

Following Jeff, Caitlin Walsh will take the stage. Caitlin is another Canadian who has found success south of the border. Having been on the sell- and buy-side of the street—hedge fund and fundamental investing focused—she brings a diverse perspective to her role of thematic investing at Canada’s largest pension fund investor. Caitlin is responsible for building thematic portfolios of public and private companies exposed to long-term secular growth at CPP Investments and established the company’s San Francisco office for thematic investing in 2019. On the back of COVID, Caitlin has highlighted several habits and beliefs that CPPIB believes will shape the post-COVID era. Areas of focus include permanent changes in consumer behaviour, long-term impact on health care, impact on cities and infrastructure, and new imperatives for global supply chains. Join us to hear where Caitlin believes the greatest investment opportunities lie.

Following Caitlin, Jeff Olin will take the stage for his fourth appearance at the conference. Jeff has been the co-founder, CEO and portfolio manager at Vision Capital Corporation for almost 15 years. Beyond his work with Vision, Jeff has been active in philanthropy, giving time to UJA of Greater Toronto and Capitalize for Kids. The Vision Opportunity Funds are a real estate-focused alternative investment strategy seeking to outperform in all market environments with low volatility and uncorrelated returns. Jeff brings a depth of knowledge to his investing approach, having spent eight years direct investing as part of Bramalea and O&Y.  Layered on top of this, he was active in M&A as an investment banker for another 10 years before co-founding Vision Capital. Jeff takes a bottom-up, value-oriented approach to his investing, focused on buying real estate more cheaply in the stock market than is available in the property market. Given the significant valuation run in most property markets, it will be interesting to hear where Jeff believes value remains for real estate securities.

The final speaker of this session is Andrew Iu. Andrew is a portfolio manager and the director of research at Burgundy Asset Management, a C$30-billion asset manager with a quality value investment philosophy. Andrew manages the firm’s Canadian small-cap strategy and in 2016 he began to oversee Burgundy’s team of 20 investment analysts who cover global equities and bonds. An alumnus of Goldman Sachs, Andrew has further leveraged his investing insight by being the vice-chair of the investment committee on the North York General Hospital foundation board. We look forward to hearing where Andrew sees opportunity post-election and COVID recovery.