National Bank of Canada has released its Family Advantage Winter 2023-2024 report that helps to better understand the distinctive characteristics of family-owned companies through an analysis of 43 Canadian corporations under family or founder control. The report demonstrates the continued superior long-term performance of publicly traded Canadian family businesses.
This year, the publication features the perspectives of three family business leaders of prominent Canadian companies shaping the green economy. Stewards of multi-generational family business ownership and guided by a long-term vision, Nancy C. Southern (ATCO Ltd. And Canadian Utilities Limited), Lino A. Saputo (Saputo Inc.) and Olivier Desmarais (Power Sustainable) highlight, in their own words, the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead on the road to net-zero carbon emissions. The publication also includes the perspectives of Dominic Barton (Chair of Rio Tinto and Global Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company from 2009 to 2018) and the Honourable Steven Guilbeault (Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Canada).
- The report highlights the updated performance of the NBC Canadian Family Index, calculated by S&P Dow Jones Indices, which tracks and measures the performance of Canadian companies controlled by families and founders versus the S&P/TSX Composite Index, the leading Canadian stock market index.
- From June 2005 to June 2023, the NBC Canadian Family Index has registered a cumulative return of 324% compared to 242% for the S&P/TSX Composite Index (or 8.3% compared to 7.0% in annualized terms) on a total return basis.
- NBC Canadian Family Index members represent nearly $700 billion in market capitalization and employ over 1 million people. Family-controlled corporations are a cornerstone of Canada’s economy.
- Family-controlled firms think about strategy over generations and have an intrinsic ability to focus on long-term challenges such as tackling climate change and finding innovative solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while delivering sustained returns for their stakeholders.
Vincent Joli-Coeur, Vice-Chairman, Financial Markets at National Bank of Canada: “One great challenge lies ahead: to deliver more long-term value with a smaller carbon footprint. Being controlled by a family makes a firm uniquely capable of adopting a long-term focus. The road to a decarbonized world will require massive investment as well as that all-important long view. Many leaders of Canada’s family-held flagship companies, including Nancy C. Southern, Lino A. Saputo and Olivier Desmarais who were interviewed for this report, are clearly motivated to be part of the solution for Canada’s move to net-zero.”
Dr. Karl Moore Ph.D., Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University and Associate Fellow, Green Templeton College, Oxford University: “Environment is on the minds of the CEOs of virtually all firms. My sense is that family companies, with their hardwired long-term view passed on from one generation to the next, will be critical players for business to make a big contribution.”
Nancy C. Southern, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, ATCO LTD. and Canadian Utilities Limited: “The energy transition represents one of our greatest opportunities — but also presents some significant challenges. As the ATCO Group builds momentum on the path to net zero, we are resolutely focused on ensuring energy remains safe, reliable and affordable. Maintaining this delicate balance is crucial in creating truly sustainable prosperity for the customers we are privileged to serve.”
Lino A. Saputo, Chair of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Saputo Inc.: “When I think about ESG, I don't think just about the Environmental aspect. The Social and Governance dimensions are also very important and go back to the very founding of Saputo. Because our family name is attached to our business’ reputation, it’s even a greater motivator to do good.”
Olivier Desmarais, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Power Sustainable: “If something is inevitable like climate change, steer into it. That is what my grandfathers Desmarais and Chrétien always did. Families are in the game for the long term. Therefore, we're able to go through economic cycles and adapt our business accordingly and we get to build solid foundation blocks to execute on our strategic vision.”
Dominic Barton, Chair of Rio Tinto and Global Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company from 2009 to 2018: “Climate change and the necessary energy transition to ensure we are net-zero by 2050 will lead to the single largest re-allocation of capital in human history. Businesses with a long-term mindset and perspective will be the most successful as they take into account shareholder returns and stakeholder returns. Shareholder and stakeholder returns go together and reinforce each other over the long term.”