(July 21, 2003) The city of Montreal has been unveiled as the first home office for the International Investment Funds Association (IIFA), an umbrella group representing investment fund associations in 42 countries. The office’s main job will be to coordinate the association’s annual conference, IFIC announced at a news conference today in Montreal.

“This has never been done before,” says Sylvie Lachapelle, operations manager for the Quebec Investment Funds Council. “It’s intended to formalize the relationship between all the [fund] associations around the world.”

When asked why Montreal was chosen, Lachapelle cited the city’s international expertise in money management and its bilingualism. “It’s a good compromise between French and English,” she told Advisor.ca.

Lachapelle expects the office will only have three full-time staff, since the majority of IIFA work is done voluntarily, by people like IFIC president Tom Hockin, “who has done a tremendous job of coordinating the various conferences,” she said.

IIFA has staged an annual conference for the past 17 years. This year’s event is scheduled for Malaysia in October. As well as setting up conferences, the Montreal office will coordinate research and submissions to international governments and regulators on behalf of the fund industry, although Lachapelle stresses the office’s mandate has yet to be finalized. That will happen at this year’s conference.

“We might be looking at an educational aspect,” she says. “We want to educate people about mutual funds throughout the world.”

Quebec’s financial services industry is footing the bill for the new office, through a fund set up to promote the province’s financial community internationally,” Lachapelle adds. “So we hope that this will help companies in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada that might be considering international markets.”

“The accomplishment of this project shows once more the dynamic of Quebec’s financial sector at the international level,” said Quebec finance minister Yves Seguin, who attended today’s news conference. “Such initiative will favour a more structured exchange between management professionals around the world, on topics essential to the development of the financial services industry, particularly in the area of asset management.”

Office administrators include Hockin; Azim Mohd Zabidi, president of the Federation of Malaysian Unit Trust Managers and head of the 2003 conference; Michel Fragasso, past chair of the Quebec Investment Funds Council; Robert Hoffman of Luxembourg’s investment funds association; and Carlos Attwell of Argentina’s investment funds association.

Filed by Doug Watt, Advisor.ca, dwatt@advisor.ca