Conference to examine council investments

The inaugural Local Government Investment Conference has teed up seven top speakers to distill the lessons of the global financial crisis (GFC) and map out the fiscal future for Australia’s councils.

Held on March 9 in Sydney, the Conference will be headlined by Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA) chief executive John Ravlic.

In a session titled ‘Business as unusual’, Ravlic will detail strategies councils can adopt to see them through the tougher fiscal conditions of the coming decade.

John Evans, University of NSW associate professor of actuarial studies, will provide an insight into the meaning of ‘fiduciary responsibilities’ for council decision-makers – a topic of great significance for local government bodies still smarting from losses in the CDO market.

His wisdom, however, is not purely academic. Evans has accumulated considerable experience in the superannuation and financial services industries, currently sitting on the boards of more than five investment companies.

Both Peter Dorrian, head of retail investments for the Australian arm of the world’s biggest bond manager PIMCO, and Anthony Serhan, research chief for Morningstar Australia, will give delegates investment industry insider views on the state of markets in the ‘new normal’.

Dorrian has chosen the daunting topic of ‘Investing in a post-GFC environment’, with the emphasis on how councils can maximise returns without straying into the dangerous territory epitomised by their unfortunate experiment with CDO products.

Dovetailing with Dorrian’s presentation, Serhan will explain how councils should manage risk within investment portfolios.

In ‘Risk vs return: it’s not all about investing… but understanding your liabilities’, Serhan will discuss the risk management approach used by investment professionals while also touching on opportunities emerging for income-seeking investors.

NSW Department of Local Government deputy director-general, Ross Woodward, will outline how the State Government has limited the investment powers of councils and its plans for the future.

In addition, NSW Treasury Corporation treasury manager, Michael Allen, will provide a government perspective on investment issues.

Finally, financial services PR guru, Sheridan Lee, has been penciled in to give a master class on crisis management.

While many councils hit by the CDO crisis shied away from public discussion to their detriment, Lee will show how to get on the front-foot with media and stakeholders before bad investment news stories are amplified by journalistic hysteria and rate-payer panic.

The 2010 Local Government Investment Conference will be a vital educational opportunity for council senior staff involved in investment decisions and councilors who are accountable to rate-payers for the outcome of these investments.

The one-day conference will be held on Tuesday March 9 at Doltone House, Pyrmont, Sydney. For further details and to register please visit or call 1300 789 845.

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