First let me apologise to those who noticed or might be offended by the fact that I referred to Sydney was a country in my last blog from Hong Kong. As a close friend of mine pointed out, just because I focus on finance and happened to be going to Sydney, it is not the only place in Australia and I am well aware of that.
That said I was visiting and writing from Sydney where I have been meeting with some more PR agencies and getting a general view of the current business landscape. Let’s start of by saying that there is no recession in Australia, and my things have changed in the last few years. With the AUS $ at a 27 year high and all talk of parity with the Greenback things are sunnier than ever down under.
The economy is booming but wow does that make it expensive for us visitors and all my colonial friends who have decided to leave the UK for sunnier skies! I sort of revelled in the fact that they all now claim that Sydney is more expensive than London! You cannot have everything mates.
A new female prime minister, property prices at an all time high and with Aus $1.4 trillion sitting in the Australian Superannuation fund, and predicted to go to Aus $3-5 trillion in the next ten years the future really does look bright.
So I go to meet with John Brogden the fairly newly (18 months) instated head of the Financial Services Council, the body representing Australia’s retail and wholesale funds management, superannuation and life insurance industries. In a typically naive way I have that enviable but uninformed view that Australians, all those thousands of miles away, have this have this nice pension pot (which happens to be vast!) and they will all inhabit an Australian invested and funded bubble living off the proceeds into retirement. That is so not the case, as John pointed out to me. The fact that Australia leads the world in its approach to defined contribution and superannuation means that they have plenty to teach the rest of us and that is why investment managers from around the globe are clamouring to learn from them and get a slice of their ever increasing pot.
There is a perception that Australia is safe, and it might be but it is also sophisticated and certainly not boring. What we refer to as hedge strategies elsewhere around the globe the Australians see as standard investment strategies as they do not have the same asset class restrictions.
Another misconception is that by investing in Australia you get no exposure to the rest of Asia and this is simply not true: Aus $400bn of the current fund is invested across Asia and this is expected to clearly grow in size but also as a percentage of the overall fund, Australia is all about offshore. If we are to become truly global as a financial system then we need to be more open minded in every respect and learn from our far off cousins and agree to work together to achieve all of our goals of creating a safer and less risky financial future for all of us.
The final thing that I learnt in my time in Australia, from a PR perspective, is that despite an assumption that trends in public relations emanate from the UK and US, simply because we may have more publications than others, that does not mean that we cannot learn from out counterparts ‘down under’.
Public relations advice is cutting edge in Australia from a sector perspective and boy do the people we work with down there know their stuff.