The Financial Services Council (FSC) has canned its physical annual conference originally set down for next week, joining a swag of other COVID-canceled industry events in the community trust.
In a release last week, FSC chief, Richard Klipin, said the industry body – now formally incorporating Workplace Savings NZ – had “taken the difficult decision to move the planned Generations Conference” given the recent Auckland ascent to ‘level 3’ coronavirus lockdown status.
While Auckland was on track to return to ‘level 2’ today, the status limits gatherings to a maximum of 100 people, effectively preventing the expected 500-plus FSC crowd from congregating.
“We have taken advice and guidance from government, Ministry of Health, the FSC Board and members, sponsors, suppliers and delegates to ensure that any decision we make is to the benefit of the community,” Klipin said.
He said the FSC board was considering a range of options to host the event with a decision due next week. The original conference date was slated for the week before the September 19 election day, which has itself been pushed out to October 17.
Most likely, the FSC conference will be reconstituted in a digital format, which has been the go-to option for a number of other industry conferences, roadshows and other planned face-to-face events.
For example, both the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) and Financial Advice NZ conferences – slated for September 15-18 and 21-24, respectively – will be online. (Although, RIAA has scheduled a small live show in Wellington for the September 15 launch of its annual benchmark NZ responsible investment report.)
Meanwhile, the Devon Funds investment briefing – previously designed as a three-city live event in the middle of next month – has also been redirected to an online-only show on September 11. The Heathcote Investment Partners national ‘Meet the managers’ roadshow has likewise been digitised for consumption later in October.
Mercer NZ has also scratched its annual one-day conference – typically held in Wellington – from the 2020 calendar.
And at a similar scale to the FSC cancellation, the biennial Combined Community Trust (CCT) conference was called off last week following an earlier postponement.
In total, the 12 community trusts manage over $4 billion of public money under a brief to fund worthy local activities in their respective regions. The sector houses about 130 government-appointed trustees.
Due to be hosted this year by the Otago Community Trust, the CCT conference was rescheduled for late November after the initial May date was postponed post-COVID.
The CCT website says: “In light of the current and ongoing COVID-19 situation in New Zealand and overseas the difficult decision has been made to cancel this year’s conference. This decision has not been taken lightly but our overriding concern remains with the health and safety of all those attending, as well as the ongoing uncertainty of holding a conference this size under the current levels.”
The cancellation is the first in the 32-year history of the CCT symposium – a key event in the disparate community trust sector.