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LGC FINANCE SUPPLEMENT - FINANCE SUCCESS STORIES

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The Champagne was flowing at the Dorchester as leading figures from the finance world gathered for the most prestig...
The Champagne was flowing at the Dorchester as leading figures from the finance world gathered for the most prestigious awards of the year

Excellence in local government finance was centre stage as the 2005 LGC Finance awards hit London's prestigious Dorchester hotel.

David Smith, from Wigan MBC, was named finance director of the year in recognition not only of the first-class work he carries out on behalf of Wigan, but his contribution to the wider world of local government finance, including the balance of funding review.

Dr Smith likens the council's success with its finances to Wigan Athletic's run of good form in the Premiership. 'The award reflects the good work of the department and the council as a whole,' he says. 'Like Wigan Athletic, we are determined and never take our eye off the ball. We play as one team. And like the club we may not have the same amount of money to work with as some of the others but we work very hard to make the most of it for everyone who lives in the borough.'

Fund of the year in the large fund category went to Strathclyde. The judges said Strathclyde had combined strong investment returns with a full review of its alternative asset allocation and corporate governance.

Richard McIndoe, head of pensions at the Strathclyde fund, says: 'We have reviewed and revised many of our processes and structures in recent years and are confident that this has resulted in a very high standard of fund management and a first-rate service to members.'

Honours in the medium fund category went to Croydon LBC. The judges said they had been impressed with the fund's willingness to differentiate itself from the crowd. Croydon's distinctive asset allocation had seen it through tough bear markets over the last decade, they added.

Nathan Elvery, director of finance and resources at Croydon, says the fund has come a long way since it was dubbed worst in the country. 'We have demonstrated that even with this challenge a fund can be managed to deliver high returns,' he says. 'Achieving this prestigious award has given formal

recognition of the excellent work of members and officers over the last year.'

Other London boroughs distinguished themselves with their funds' performances. Bexley LBC won the accolade for highest performance in UK equities, while the award for best return on direct property went to Southwark LBC.

Salford City Council picked up the prize for best exchequer function in recognition of the department's efficiency, service delivery and customer focus.

The prize for quality of financial information to residents was won by Wychavon DC for the second year running, while Norfolk CC once again picked up the honours for quality of service.

The Environment Agency Active fund won the corporate governance award for its commitment to ethical investment.

The lifetime market award was won by Ralph Greening in recognition of the active role he has played in the local government pension scheme for 27 years.

Comedian Marcus Brigstocke hosted the event, with the rudeness of Londoners and the culinary limitations of the Scots among the targets of his acerbic wit.

Roll of honour

Category Winners Runners up

Best Exchequer Function Salford City Council Sutton LBC

Wirral MBC

Quality of Financial Information to Residents Wychavon DC Lambeth LBC

Quality of Service Norfolk Pension Fund West Yorkshire Pension Fund (Bradford)

Lancashire Pension Services

London Pensions Fund Authority

Finance Director of the Year David Smith

Lifetime (Market) Award Ralph Greening

Corporate Governance Environment Agency Active Fund Strathclyde Pension Fund (Glasgow)

Nottinghamshire CC

Fund of the Year (Medium) Croydon LBC Shropshire CC

Warwickshire CC

Fund of the Year (Large)Strathclyde Pension Fund (Glasgow) West Yorkshire Pension Fund (Bradford)

Greater Manchester Pension Fund (Tameside)

UK Equities Bexley LBC East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Worcestershire CC

Best Return on Direct Property Southwark LBCLancashire CC

West Sussex CC

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