AVMA investments take hit, treasurer says

Market turmoil impacts veterinary medicine’s largest association

October 21, 2008 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

Schaumburg, Ill. — As a global finance crisis compounded by recession fears triggers Wall Street volatility that could take years to fully stabilize, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that it, too, feels the instability.

Of the roughly $29 million that AVMA had tied up in various investments as of July, some funds are down 10 percent, Treasurer Dr. Bret Marsh says. Still, the losses are a far cry from the pullback that’s sent the Dow Jones industrial average tumbling as much as 30 percent, he contends.

“Fortunately, we have diversified the portfolio; parts are down, others are steady,” he says. “Overall, I think we’re OK, but we could be in for a tough time for a while. I don’t know if anyone knows where this is going yet.”

What does that mean for AVMA’s membership? According to Marsh, a dues increase could be on the horizon for 2010. And when it comes to the group’s $29-million budget, some mid-year tweaking might be in order, he says.

AVMA, which keeps roughly 100 percent of operating expenses in reserves as a backup, is in regular communication with Olcott Consulting Group, the Virginia-based company trusted with guiding its investment strategy since 2005. The group’s portfolio includes an estimated $4 million in mutual funds, $12 million in managed funds and an undisclosed amount in stocks, bonds, cash and CDs, Marsh says.

“Sure, we’ve had to make some adjustments. What’s happened during the last several weeks is totally unheard of. Clearly, we’ve seen a downturn because in the last 60 days have just gone haywire,” Marsh says.

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