Australia displays strengths in financial services in Canada mission

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March 15, 2011 12:50 PM EST

The financial services capability of Australia, particularly the rapidly growing funds management sector, was showcased in Toronto and Montreal during an Austrade-led mission from 28 February – 2 March.

Canada’s largest banks and pension funds have taken a strong interest in investing in Australia in recent years.

This has been driven in part by Australia’s proximity to the fast-growing Asia Pacific region, the size and sophistication of the $1.79 trillion funds management sector, broad investment opportunities and a strong economy.

Stefan Trofimovs, Austrade’s Senior Trade & Investment Commissioner for Canada, based in Toronto, said the mission provided a unique opportunity for Australian firms to forge closer links with Canada’s largest pension funds, banks and industry bodies in both Ontario and Québec.

“As these two provinces account for the majority of the financial services sector in Canada, the mission served to bring both parties together—Canadian pension funds and banks have expressed an interest in engaging with Australian firms,” Mr Trofimovs said.

“The recent acquisition of Great Southern Land by Canadian pension fund Alberta Investment Management Corp (AIMCo) is one example of the heightened activity of Canadian pension funds in Australia,” he said.

The Austrade mission included six delegates, representing the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Industry Funds Management, AE Capital Advisers, The Trust Company, Perennial Investment Partners, and nabInvest/Presima. This initiative was supported and sponsored by the NSW and Victorian Governments.

Andrew Cannane, General Manager, Business Development at The Trust Company, who participated in the mission, said the mission was extremely useful and he was encouraged by the outcomes of the meetings.

“Canadian pension plans are extremely interested in investing further into Australia, particularly in the infrastructure, real estate and timberland sectors,” Mr Cannane said.

“Mid-tier to large pension funds are focused on co-investment opportunities in Australia, especially as they see Australia as the gateway to the Asia-Pacific,” he said.

“The Canadian pension funds are also keen to build long term partnerships with local Australian players as they place high importance on relationships with co-investors and governance of those relationships.”

Gerard Seeber, Austrade’s Senior Trade Commissioner and Financial Services Manager for the Americas, based in New York, said, “Canadian banks and dealers are starting to engage with offshore fund managers to explore a range of sub-advisory and principal relationships with Australian firms, attracted by Australia’s strong economic outlook, buoyant markets and strong dollar”.

“Toronto is the third largest North American financial services centre after New York and Chicago. It is also the headquarters to five of the world’s largest 50 banks and the majority of Canada’s insurance, securities, foreign banks, pension and mutual fund companies,” he said.

“Similarly, Montréal is home to the Caisse de Dépôt et Placements, the largest institutional fund manager in Canada, and has the sixth-largest Canadian bank, National Bank of Canada.”

An event was also held at the Toronto Stock Exchange to launch Austrade’s 2010 Financial Services Benchmark Report.

The event attracted more than 80 leading officials from Canada’s pension funds sector, major banks, fund managers, regulators, insurance companies, industry associations and law firms.

Austrade’s network in Canada is available to support Australian financial services companies, with specialist teams located in Toronto and Montreal.

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