Many important people have played a role in helping institutional investors across Asia Pacific develop over the past 20 years, but far fewer can claim to have truly broken new ground.
For our 20th anniversary we have chosen 20 individuals, in no particular order, that we think have made a major impact in the development of asset owners across the region over the past two decades. These individuals represent some of the most thoughtful, open-minded and motivated individuals in the industry.
Some are leaders of their organisations; others have played important roles within them, helping expand their institution’s capabilities into important new areas. Each has made a telling contribution to the evolution of institutional investment across Asia Pacific over the past two decades.
Our next profiles focus on Catherine Savage, the chairman of the overseer board of New Zealand Super, and Mark Delaney, deputy chief executive and chief investment officer of Australia's largest superannuation fund.
Chairman, Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation
New Zealand Superannuation Fund takes its relationship with its guardians very seriously. And, since January 1, 2016, that has meant gaining the approval and advice of Catherine Savage.
Savage had made a name for herself at AMP Capital Investors in New Zealand after joining in the mid-1990s, reportedly telling the then managing director that she wanted his job. She got it too, in 2000, being promoted from head of client servicing at just 33. For the next seven years she led a team of 100 while also raising two small children.
Savage’s drive, sense of fun and belief in organisation and process earned the respect of her peers and helped her to be named a guardian for New Zealand’s sovereign wealth fund in 2009. She was then made deputy chair in 2012.
Senior fund management executives credit Savage with being smart and influential, helping oversee the fund’s drive for responsible investing and transparency. One of the requirements of the board that she heads is to focus on both the mission of New Zealand Super and ensure it is prepared for its long-term objectives.
The government’s confidence in the fund was underlined by it handing over a NZ$300 million ($196.8 million) venture capital mandate in June 2019. Savage said at the time it was “a vote of confidence” in NZ Super’s “commercial expertise and track record”.
It’s also an article of faith in the board that oversees the sovereign fund.
Deputy chief executive and chief investment officer, AustralianSuper
AustralianSuper has long been the largest superannuation fund, with an asset base of A$180 billion ($128.3 billion) – although it is set to be overtaken this summer. Over its lifespan Mark Delaney has ensured it reaches its investment targets to pay its members.
Delaney joined the Superannuation Trust of Australia (STA) in 2000 as investment manager and was promoted to chief executive after Paul Costello left to help form New Zealand Super in 2003. Talks then began to merge STA with Australian Retirement Fund to create AustralianSuper in 2006, and Delaney agreed to become deputy CEO and CIO.
Merging the two took a lot of work but gave AustralianSuper economies of scale. That meant it could pursue what Delaney told AsianInvestor was “without doubt the biggest shift at AustralianSuper” – moving more investing inhouse.
“It meant we had to employ the right people to implement our programme and also make major changes to our in-house systems and processes,” he said.
Delaney estimates that doing so saves it roughly A$150 million ($102.79 million) a year, and it intends to manage 50% of its AUM internally by 2021. While doing so it has reported an average annual investment return of 8.6% for the past decade.
Many other superannuation funds have emulated the move. That trend looks likely to continue, and Delaney had a big hand in pioneering it.
These profiles originally appeared in AsianInvestor's 20th anniversary edition, which was published in late June.
The other profiles featured online so far are as follows
Australian Super is "re-risking" portfolio; China's Anbang Insurance to disband; India's pension regulator could raise fund manager fees; GPIF's ex-CIO accused of pressurising Harvard endowment over vote; Korea's NPS could unload W8 trillion of equities; Singlife and Aviva Singapore merging and more.
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