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Vol. 32 No. 5
September-October 2010


Treasurer's Column: “Pressure” Testing and Sponsorship

by John Corish

The various news media have provided me with some food for thought recently through their frequent reports and comments on the need for the regulatory fiscal authorities to undertake periodic “pressure” or “stress” testing of banks and other financial institutions. This, when first encountered, might appear to be a further ingress of technical and scientific principles into the commercial world. Indeed, I initially mused as to whether someone might have produced an autoclave that was sufficiently large to enclose a team of accountants and auditors or whether the application of a simpler vice-like apparatus might not be more efficient in these cases. As is often true, the reality is much less interesting. I am told that it involves no more than the application of mathematical and computational predictive techniques to test whether the institutions in question can be expected to withstand the financial stresses from a variety of imagined scenarios in the new and harsher commercial reality.

This changed and difficult financial environment seems to have permeated almost every part of the world and it is impossible to remain isolated from it. And so, the question naturally arises as to how IUPAC is doing? As I reported in my last column and to Council at the General Assembly at Glasgow last year, the Union’s finances have been performing quite well despite the testing times. Our income streams from national subscriptions, publications, and our investment portfolio have held up well and expenditures have been controlled to ensure that we have stayed within the budget determined by the Finance Committee and approved by Council. The overall value of our portfolio, which is a good indicator as to how we are faring at any time, has continued to recover though the rate of increase remains on a modest scale.

At present, it is not possible to make predictions regarding IUPAC’s financial outlook with any real confidence given the complexity of the factors affecting the international financial parameters within which we must operate. In particular, at the time of writing, the rapid rates of change of these parameters in response to variations in the fortunes of a number of national economies further aggravate the situation and make even the task of analysis difficult. What is very clear is that the diversity and prudence of the model chosen by the Finance Committee remains crucial to our continued ability to pass the financial tests thrown in our path. The value of the portfolio this year has benefited from the increase in the value of U.S. securities and has decreased because of the fall in the value of the Euro. Thankfully, the latter is not that important to us as that portfolio is mainly reinvested, although we do suffer some loss of income as the interest on our bonds is converted from Euros to U.S. Dollars.
The upcoming International Year of Chemistry, IYC2011, which is a unique and wonderful opportunity to highlight our subject to the world and one that we intend to grasp enthusiastically, will of course also present a pressure test for our finances. Our rate of spending on preparations for this project, such as on the IYC website, <www.chemistry2011.org>, has been larger and more immediate than is our typical expenditure on projects. This effect is also reflected in our portfolio. A campaign to raise sponsorship for our participation in the IYC2011 has been under way now since last year and at least our principal cornerstone events will be very largely financed in this way. However, we do need to raise much more funding.

A brochure is available from the Secretariat outlining the opportunities that exist for a number of sponsorship categories ranging from becoming a Worldwide Partner to supporting the IYC in an individual capacity as an IYC2011Friend. Wonderful ideas abound as to how chemistry can be promoted and popularized and the more sponsorship we can obtain, the more of these programs and events we can launch and support around the world. If any of you can assist, either in a personal capacity or through your contacts, to increase our sponsorship funding for our participation in the IYC, then we should be delighted to hear from you. If you would like to become an IYC2011Friend, you can do so by contacting the IUPAC secretariat (click here for pdf that appears on page 3 in print).

John Corish <jcorish@tcd.ie> has been treasurer of IUPAC since January 2008. He has served IUPAC at many levels since 1979, including chair of the Subcommittee on Materials Chemistry, president of the Inorganic Chemistry Division, and member of the Finance Committee.


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