Thursday, November 29, 2007

Reprinted in the spirit of Thanksgiving..............

Investment News
October 31, 2005
By Charles Paikert - New York, NY


Native American Advisors Helps Tribes Manage Money

Some are flush with cash from gaming operations – Dean Parisian is on a mission to help Native American tribes do a better job of managing money. Thanks to lucrative casino and gaming operations, some Native American tribes are flush with cash. But the tribal councils overseeing those operations are short on financial know-how, said Mr. Parisian, chairman and founder of Alpharetta, Ga.-based Native American Advisors Inc.

“There’s a lack of financial sophistication and a lack of knowledge about the availability of investment services,” said Mr. Parisian, a member of the White Earth Chippewa nation. For the past 20 years, Mr. Parisian, whose firm does business as Chippewa Partners, has been working as an investment advisor for Indian tribes.

Relationship Problems - Many tribes, he said, are swayed too easily by their relationships with local bankers and high-pressure lobbying from Wall Street firms. Local banks, Mr. Parisian said, should be doing a better job of managing short-term money for the tribes. And large Wall Street firms, he maintains, burden tribes with excessive fees. One of the biggest investment challenges that many tribes face is “the need to understand the roles and responsibilities of the money managers that they hire and be able to evaluate their effectiveness and their overall performance,” said Mike Roberts, president of First Nations Development Institute, a Denver-and Fredericksburg, Va.-based policy, research and philanthropic organization for Native Americans. For years, Mr. Parisian has provided pro-bono advice and management to a variety of Native American Tribes, foundations, retirement plans and scholarship funds.

He has advised the Chippewa on their retirement and 401-k plans and managed fixed-income securities for First Nations. He also sits on its advisory board and is preparing an educational curriculum for understanding investments. Mr. Parisian also is featured in an investment guide for Native Americans that is being put out by Washington-based NASD. “I’m trying to effect positive change,” said Mr. Parisian, who often donates 10% of his fee back to a tribe he is working with, so it can set up a scholarship fund.

Some Frustration – But as a businessman, he admits to sometimes getting frustrated. “You’re dealing with sovereign nations, and some tribal councils are not that well-versed in financial matters,” Mr. Parisian said. Many tribes also insist on a number of face-to-face meetings, which can be difficult for an advisory firm with less than $25 million under management. “You can’t fax a handshake,” he said.

But Mr. Parisian is heartened by the younger generation, which is starting to assume tribal leadership. “They’re better educated and more sophisticated,” he said. “And there are more people willing to do business on the phone.”

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