Article December 14, 2022

Millani: Adding value

At Millani, an ESG integration advisory firm in Montreal, there is no shortage of work. Part of what they do involves eliminating confusion around responsible investment for publicly traded companies, portfolio managers and investment firms.

Since going into business in 2008, Millani has worked to develop ESG strategies for its corporate clients. But one day, while reviewing an economic ranking of companies, Milla Craig realized that a number of them were under fire for not doing enough as corporate citizens. “It became clear to me then that companies weren’t disclosing the type of information investors are looking for. That was the precise moment when Millani 2.0 was born.”

Millani provides advisory services on ESG integration to a range of financial stakeholders and companies: it conducts research, publishes analysis and studies, produces market trend reports, delivers training, and helps issuers define an ESG strategy and improve their ESG disclosures and investor communications.

Transparency in information and communication

To Millani’s founder and President and CEO, all these services are connected. “I often say that what Millani offers is a loop that looks like a figure 8,” she says. “Helping investors integrate ESG criteria into their investment strategies contributes to reducing their risk. We then redeploy the knowledge we gained from those investors to fine tune the direction a company is taking.”

“Communication has to be clear, there has to be transparency. That is ultimately what helps to reduce the risk of greenwashing.” — Milla Craig

Ms. Craig has more than enough to keep her busy. “You have to stay focused at all times on the expectations and needs of investors when it comes to environmental, social and governance issues that impact a company’s competitiveness and reputation. By doing that, we help our corporate clients to better identify key issues and better communicate them. We also help them make sense of the various approaches to responsible investment, as there is still some confusion out there.”

Millani, however, does not tell its clients where to invest. “We’re not here to tell them what to do,” explains Erica Coulombe, Vice President at Millani. “It’s more to help them understand what’s happening in the markets and what importance that might have for them. We also help them see what their options are so that they can decide on the best course of action for them, based on their vision and their objectives.”

Because communication is crucial. “It has to be clear, there has to be transparency,” insists Milla Craig. “That is ultimately what helps to reduce the risk of greenwashing.”

More women

The team at Millani consists primarily of women. Was this a business decision? Actually, it was more of a happy coincidence. “We’d like to hire men; our diversity challenge is the opposite of everyone else’s,” says Millani’s CEO.

In the finance sector you have to go for talent, she adds. “We look first and foremost for people who really know capital markets. This is critical for understanding investor motivation.”

The same applies to the membership of a board of directors. “When it comes to governance, you need to look at people’s expertise. Does the board have someone with the skills to unpack an analysis of ESG factors? Someone who understands climate issues? A cybersecurity specialist? And so on.”

She rightly points out that since female representation on corporate boards of directors is important to investors today, it has also become important for companies.