Fixing dysfunction with State Trustees CEO Craig Dent

State Trustees CEO Craig Dent’s love of fixing dysfunctional systems has seen him institute a “shock and awe” approach to culture change, overhaul the public company’s strategy and face off against some tough media coverage.

There’s only one other public trustee in the world structured like Victoria’s State Trustees, and it’s in Fiji — but operating as a fully-fledged, though state-owned, company in a space where most organisations still sit within government gives it a higher level of financial stability, argues State Trustees CEO Craig Dent.

It’s a challenging job, managing the financial affairs of those unable to do it themselves, whether due to dementia, brain injury, mental illness or a range of other causes — the majority of whom possess no assets and cannot pay fees — all the while paying tax and still being expected to provide a dividend to the state government.

The model appears to be serving the state well. Whereas the NSW Trustee and Guardian — which is part of the Department of Justice — has been named “financially unsustainable” after it recorded a $1.7 million operating loss for the 2013-14 financial year, Victoria’s State Trustees recorded an after-tax profit of $3.7 million, half of which is customarily paid as a dividend to the state government. Nonetheless, unlike other companies, once savings are found in other areas, the aim is to lower fees.

“The envy of other jurisdictions locally and internationally about the Victorian model is quite high,” Dent told The Mandarin. “The sustainability of public trustees around the world is a real issue, because we’re all living longer and we’re all going to be healthier.” He is often in contact with other jurisdictions asking for details of the Victorian model with an eye to future reform.

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.