The West

Finsia closes Perth office

The Financial Services Institute of Australasia, the cashed-up and self-proclaimed "premier organisation for finance professionals", has closed its WA office months after beefing up its presence.

Having run a small serviced office in the Perth central business district, mainly to co-ordinate events for its 1000 WA members, Finsia flagged a more active role by hiring a regional manager in November to increase its profile and membership.

However, the new hiring was only in the role three months before his position was made redundant by a change in strategy.

Finsia has confirmed the Perth office was closed last month, along with others in Brisbane, Adelaide, Auckland and Wellington, after a decision by its board to centralise resources around the institute's major offices in Sydney and Melbourne.

Finsia's Sydney-based chief executive, Russell Thomas, said the move - made without consulting the WA regional council headed by Azure Capital's Adrian Arundell - was not taken lightly.

"But in recognition of the need to position Finsia more effectively as an educational and professional development organisation, we had to scale back the investment we had in events delivery, which is almost 50 per cent of our costs," Mr Thomas said.

"Our relationships remain the same, we don't believe a staff member on the ground in Perth, Adelaide or Brisbane is necessary to the success of Finsia."

Mr Thomas said the office closures would save Finsia a forecast $1.5 million a year.

However, the institute insisted the closures were not driven by savings. Instead, they reflected a revised operating model under which Finsia aims to increase membership through stronger relationships with employers, chiefly private wealth groups, insurers and banks, and use online education and targeted events.

It is believed the strategic rethink reflected long-held member concerns about the value of the previous events program and its marketing and the risk of the association squandering its $30 million-plus in cash reserves, the proceeds of the sale of its education division to Kaplan in 2007.

Mr Thomas said that while it had been surprised by the decision to close the office, the WA regional council supported the revised strategy.

The West Australian

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