Westpac’s Chief Economist Bill Evans a keynote speaker at Barry Plant Bendigo and Ballarat events

A combined event between Westpac, Bank of Melbourne, and the Barry Plant Bendigo and Ballarat offices was held this past Monday, which included a keynote talk from the Chief Economist of Westpac Bill Evans.

A combined event between Westpac, Bank of Melbourne, and the Barry Plant Bendigo and Ballarat offices was held this past Monday, which included a keynote talk from the Chief Economist of Westpac Bill Evans.

The event was split over two venues, with a lunch held at the Ballarat Trotting Club for the Barry Plant Ballarat office, while a cocktail function took place at the Bendigo All Seasons Hotel for the Barry Plant Bendigo office. While sales staff and property managers from each office were in attendance, so were high valued customers including landlords and vendors, as well as staff from Westpac and the Bank of Melbourne. Over 330 people attended both events.

“It really was an opportunity to get a world class speaker to come out to Bendigo and Ballarat and give insight into where we sit on an economic and property front, and where we might be headed,” said Yvonne Jackson, CEO & Director of the Barry Plant Bendigo and Ballarat offices. “The event over the two regional cities was absolutely fantastic. It was a great networking opportunity for everyone involved, and those who attended just gained so much from it.”

“It was extremely well attended and I think it was a great success,” said Mike McCarthy, Director and CEO of the Barry Plant Group, who was also a speaker at the event. “Having the Chief Economist for Westpac present is a pretty unique opportunity for anyone to attend, particularly in the regionals cities. He’s just an incredible speaker and gives great insight into the economy, the world economy, and where it’s been and why, and where it’s going. The insight he gave was invaluable.”

Bill Evans joined Westpac Group in 1991 as Chief Economist and Head of Research. He is currently the bank’s economic spokesman and responsible for all the bank’s economic research. Bill travels frequently, advising Westpac’s customers on the Australian economy and financial markets. He has developed many important contacts in the US, Europe, and Asia. Bill was former chairman of the Australian Business Economists for eight years and is now a life member.

Bill Evans touched on a variety of topics in his keynote speech in Ballarat and Bendigo. The latest federal budget was a big talking point, where he gave his perspective on the surprise on the stimulus and spending actions, and the fact that while Australia’s deficit has doubled, it’s still in a really good place comparative to other countries in the world like the United States and UK.

Bill also went into depth about the economic outlook and Australia’s remarkable and fast V-shaped recovery, before talking about the country’s positive unemployment numbers, the future of interest rates, and the Australian property market. Much to the delight of those in attendance, Bill noted that Ballarat and Bendigo have grown at the same rate as Melbourne since 2009, and are now poised to grow faster than Melbourne.

Mike McCarthy reinforced Bill’s talk and the strong position of the regions at the moment, and the preference of so many to make a move out of the city.

“My focus was really on the events of COVID-19 over the last year, and how it has impacted the industry, particularly those in regional markets like Ballarat and Bendigo,” said Mick McCarthy. “My core message that I gave to everyone was that, despite all the uncertainty of last year and dire predictions by forecasters, that the Australian market had enjoyed record prices up until January, with the current market going really strong. It’s obviously a massive turnaround of where we thought we were heading and where we ended up.”

“The other core message was that so many people are rethinking their lifestyle. They’re thinking about how they want to live, where they want to live, and what type of amenities they want in their property,” said Mike McCarthy. “When you look at the key things they’re looking for - more space, more bedrooms, an office to work in, more daylight – a lot of those things point to outer suburbs and regional areas.”

Mike also noted that while the regional market was excelling and popular for buyers, investors are also benefiting.

“When investors look at those regional areas, they’re probably looking at returns of around the 5% mark. And those returns are probably increasing a bit due to the shortage of rental properties. We’re seeing significant increases in rents at the moment, as well as a very, very low vacancy rate. From an investor point of view, you’ve got great capital appreciation happening, and also increased returns.”

Mark Melvin was also a speaker at the event, who is the State Manager of both Westpac and the Bank of Melbourne. He spoke about the outlook of banking, with more of a focus on customers.