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.
We describe the integral roles played by Raphael Arndt and Hiromichi Mizuno at the Future Fund of Australia and Government Pension Investment Fund of Japan, respectively.
Chief executive and former chief investment officer, Future Fund
The evolution of Future Fund of Australia into a leading global sovereign wealth fund is down to many individuals, but Raphael Arndt, the CEO and former CIO, has played an essential part.
Arndt began his career as an engineer, working in Australia and the UK. He held an infrastructure policy position at the Victorian Department of Treasury before becoming a infrastructure-focused investment manager with Hastings Funds Management.
In 2008 Arndt was hired by the then two-year old Future Fund as its head of infrastructure and timberland, as part of a push to invest more in unlisted assets. He has since helped the sovereign wealth fund expand into private asset areas, an experience that has been helpful.
In 2014 Arndt was appointed to be Future Fund’s CIO, and in the subsequent six years he has focused on helping the organisation refine its investment prowess and knowledge, particularly through more inhouse expertise and, latterly a push to improve its technology and data capabilities. It worked well; Future Fund has boasted an average annual investment return of 9.6% since 2013, versus a target of 6.2%.
All this has led to the head of one large US asset manager describing Arndt as "a super-impressive investor".
When CEO David Neal decided to leave early this year, Arndt was a natural successor, and the A$162 billion ($111.2 billion) fund eventually appointed him in May. Arndt has Engineering and Commerce degrees and a PhD from the University of Melbourne.
Former chief investment officer, Government Pension Investment Fund
The impact of Hiromichi Mizuno on Japan’s GPIF was evident from the fact that, following his departure in March, fund manager and consultant executives wondered whether the monolithic organisation would remain on the sustainability path he had set it on.
Mizuno was hired by GPIF in 2014 as its new CIO after a successful career as a manager at UK private equity firm Coller Capital. As Mizuno has told AsianInvestor, he was no expert in external public equity mandates, but felt he could improve the organisation’s governance and demand better performance of its partners.
As part of this Mizuno focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. This included becoming a UN Principles of Responsible Investment signatory, adopting several ESG benchmarks, and demanding that fund manager partners use ESG in their investing practices. Mizuno also hired Sony Computer Science Laboratories to use AI and deep learning to better monitor external fund performance.
Mizuno’s original term expired in September 2019 but was extended until March 2020. However, he told AsianInvestor he had remained longer than planned. He seemed happy to finally leave.
While Mizuno’s stay was relatively short, his impact will linger – provided his successor Eiji Ueda maintains the same focus on ESG, technology and scrutiny.
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