Brian J. Smith, Founder
Senior Communications Counsel
With more than 30 years’ experience in corporate and financial communications, Brian has a demonstrated ability to develop creative solutions for thorny communications challenges.
Brian is always willing to talk with potential clients who need high-level, strategic advice, but don't want or can't afford to bring such talent onboard as a full-time employee. He is used to working with publicly listed companies, but has dealt with many privately owned and family businesses over the course of his career.
Brian provides consulting services to senior corporate leaders, including speech-writing, media coaching and sound communications advice.
For corporations with overseas connections, Brian has experience living and working internationally, and his long involvement in political affairs gives him a special appreciation of government relations. He is capable of working in both official languages.
Brian has ample experience working with financial services industry clients, but also has experience working in several other sectors, including technology (especially fintech), and travel and tourism. He is always looking for a new challenge that will test his skills.
Specialties: Making the complex comprehensible (try explaining financial derivatives). Bringing together parties with disparate points of view and crafting messages that make them all happy (a particularly useful skill in M&A, joint ventures and association work). Always pushing for a strong link between business objectives and communications objectives.
Brian began his career in journalism, working in radio, television and print. He was a member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, covering the national political scene for seven years.
From 1982 to 1984, Brian served as Associate Press Secretary to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He later worked with Jean Chrétien during his first run for the leadership of the Liberal Party, and with Prime Minister John Turner during the election campaign of 1984.
For the next ten years, Brian was the corporate spokesperson for Bank of Montreal (now BMO Financial Group), providing communications advice to CEOs William Mulholland, Matthew Barrett and Tony Comper, and the senior leadership team of the bank. Over the course of his time at BMO, Brian was responsible for or involved with all aspects of public affairs, including employee communications, annual report, special events, sponsorships and government relations.
Since 1995, Brian has been providing communications advice to senior business leaders as a private consultant. As a partner in Romyr & Associates, he provided consulting services to multinational firms doing business in the newly emerging economies of the former Soviet Union and, in particular, Ukraine. Clients included RJ Reynolds and Utel, the national telecommunications joint venture in Ukraine. As the Managing Partner of Opsis Communications & Marketing Inc., Brian ran a team of a dozen consultants in the firm's Toronto office, which counted Microcell (Fido), BMO Financial Group and Star Alliance among its clients. And before founding The Lanes in 2014, Brian was President and Owner of IR Counsel Inc., which specialized in financial communications for clients such as BMO and the Toronto Financial Services Alliance.