St Margaret's News October 2015 - Page 6

Mental Health and Philanthropy A recent philanthropic initiative, designed to boost funding for mental health research, is very interesting and encouraging. Geoff Wilson, a successful Australian businessman and founder of Wilson Asset Management, a company which has established several Listed Investment Companies (LICs), has been instrumental in setting up a new LIC aimed at improving the lives of young Australians affected by mental illness. (An Investment Company simply buys shares in other companies which enables investors to spread their risk over many companies without buying shares in every one. And being a ‘Listed’ company means it is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and its shares can be bought or sold at any time.) The new company is called Future Generations Global Investment Company (FGG). It claims to be “Australia’s first internationally focused LIC with the dual objectives of providing shareholders with diversified exposure to selected global fund managers AND changing the lives of young Australians affected by mental illness.” How does it propose to do this? Geoff Wilson says “All the fund managers and service providers are doing it pro bono and 1 per cent of the (net tangible assets) goes to charities like beyondblue. If we raise $550 million that means we are giving $5.5 million to charity in the first year and we would be the biggest funder of mental health in Australia, excluding the government.” The nine charities which FGG says it will be supporting are: beyondblue, Black Dog Institute, Brain and Mind Research Institute, Butterfly Foundation, headspace, MadCap Social Enterprise, Orygen, ReachOut and SANE Australia. This innovative development should give a much needed boost to mental health research in Australia. I also wonder: Could it be the forerunner of other charity focused LICs to emerge in the future? Could it encourage Australian investors, and indeed all of us, to be more philanthropic? Food for thought. - Jeff Bishop St Margaret’s News 6 October 2015