By now the annual convention has come and gone. At the time of writing this commentary, the triad convention was just a few short weeks away and by all indications, set to be one of the more successful conventions in recent times. When one stands at this point in time and looks forward, it is fairly easy to see that the convention will be successful and prosperous to the CSEG. Such is the benefit of looking at an upcoming major event only a couple of weeks away.
Each year in the fall, the executive reviews financial projections for the upcoming year and creates a budget based on the collective thinking at the time. When we approached budget time this year, the great NEW ROYALTY FRAMEWORK had just been announced and companies were trying to sort out their specific consequences of this changing financial landscape. Many of the larger companies immediately announced the diversion of budgets to anywhere outside of Alberta, probable layoffs and overall reduced expenditures locally. The service companies were hit hard with reduced volumes and activity. The JACC (Joint Annual Convention Committee) had already seen some of these fallout effects and so were sensitive to the probability of reduced attendance and there f o re lowered their expectation of revenues from the convention. As an executive group in charge of managing the financial welfare of the Society, we are conservative by nature and historically tend to under-budget revenues. This ensures that even in tough times, we maintain a fiscal balance to make sure we can get through those times.
In many respects the CSEG creates our annual budget like our current government. Prudently, we tend to create conservative budgets by considering “what-if” scenarios to ensure that we don’t overspend our resources, and we lay out a “zero-gain” financial path for the year. Much thought is put into estimating membership and convention revenues – our biggest source of income for the Society. This year, the CSEG has increased our reserve fund to $800,000 (approximately two years worth of operating costs in a “rainy-day” account). But just like our government has a responsibility to invest the money as well as save for a rainy day, so do we. As a province, we must invest in the future to ensure that the next generation enjoys the benefits of a sound infrastructure and support system to carry them into the future. In 2006 the CSEG Foundation was established to be the primary “investment” conduit for the society in the area of education and outreach – investing in our future – and is historically the largest single investment that our Society makes.
I want to wrap up this column by recognizing the great work that Elizabeth Atkinson has done with the CSEG finance portfolio as last year’s Director of Finance. She has a fine eye for detail and a questioning attitude that kept everyone on their toes. One cannot really appreciate some of the financial complexity involved in the CSEG until you look under the hood (I am pleased to say that nothing is broken) and now this year it will be up to Brock Hassell and me to continue the fine precedents set out before us. We will continue to manage the financial affairs of the CSEG in a fiscally responsible manner while ensuring that we maintain our investment in the bright young minds of the future.