The past three years have been filled with challenges for Asia Pacific’s pension funds, underscoring the need to modernise and improve their operations.
Some of these funds have risen to the challenge and AsianInvestor's Top 20 pensions executives list aims to recognise the change-makers and forward thinkers of this industry.
Our list showcases senior executives, from CEOs and CIOs to heads of responsible investing and equity chiefs.
You can find more about the rationale for our list here.
We continue revealing our list by featuring another two top executives — one from an Australian super fund, and the other from Canada’s largest pension fund.
Chief Investment Officer, Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC)
Alison Tarditi, CIO of Commonwealth Super Corporation (CSC), has played a pivotal role in leading the $40 billion Australian super fund to new heights.
Tarditi’s leadership and strategic vision led CSC to being recognised at AsianInvestor’s 2022 Institutional Excellence Awards, winning the best small/medium pension fund for the second year in a row and also capturing four best-in-class awards in critical investment domains.
“The focus on ‘bigger is better’ in funds under management is not necessarily true, if you stick to your investor DNA and understand what your competitive advantages are -- there are opportunities to be excellent and to be very competitive against much bigger funds,” Tarditi, who has been with the fund since 2007, told AsianInvestor.
The fund, in particular, is quite forward-thinking with sustainable investing.
Under Tarditi's leadership, CSC was among the first Australian super funds to recognise the needs of the energy transition early and invest in critical sustainable infrastructure, such as windfarms.
“As these assets appreciated strongly because others began recognising their value, and CSC’s domain expertise increased, the fund has been able to recycle that capital into higher-returning development platforms -- platforms that build new renewable assets across solar, wind, biomass and hydro,” she said.
These investments are valuable to CSC customers’ retirement outcomes because the financial returns on these assets are largely insulated from short-term economic conditions.
The fund also believes that such investments have an actual impact in the real world, and not just on portfolio performance.
“These investments finance activities that are adding to the stock of renewable assets, not just trading claims on existing ones, and that are enabling companies to work on discovering novel solutions to some of the broader health challenges in the world beyond finance,” she said.
Portfolio-management agility remains critical, according to Tarditi, who has previously worked at Citigroup, BT Asset Management and the Reserve Bank of Australia.
She was also chairman of the long-term investing council for the World Economic Forum between 2014 and 2020 and remains on the council today.
Her attitude towards long-term portfolio management is evident by the way she thinks about future risks.
“I have a lot of respect for the difference between risk and genuine uncertainty,” she said. “We often think about investment risk in statistical terms, but there is real uncertainty in today’s global outlook and that means dealing with potential eventualities that are unknowable.”
Instead of forecasting macroeconomic outcomes, Tarditi’s team focuses on analysing the performance of the fund's portfolios under multiple, plausible, future scenarios to find vulnerabilities and addressing them proactively.
Head of Asia Pacific & Active Equities, Asia, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
Agus Tandiono has been leading the regional business development and growth of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, or CPP Investments, since December 2021.
In his dual role as head of active equities Asia, Tandiono also leads a team of investment professionals that researches on public equities, or soon-to-be public equities, and invests in quality companies throughout Asia.
Tandiono's team focuses on urbanisation and consumption themes across Asia, including consumer discretionary, logistics, renewable energy, healthcare, technology and more.
Over the past decade, CPP Investments has grown significantly in Asia, with over 250 employees and net assets of over $111 billion, or 26% of total assets, allocated to the region.
The pension fund has three offices in the region: it opened its first office in Hong Kong in 2008, followed by Mumbai in 2015 and Sydney in 2016.
They are active contributors to improving corporate governance practices in Canada and elsewhere.
Their growing presence in Asia and local collaborations have encouraged local institutions to think more strategically about their portfolios and investing in asset classes such as real estate and infrastructure as well as private markets broadly, according to industry experts.
For these reasons, AsianInvestor decided to include leading Canadian pension funds in the Top 20 list.
Tandiono, who joined the fund in 2014 and has more than 25 years of experience in Asia, said the fund is keen to continue capitalising on the growing trends in Asia such as digitalisation and consumption growth, despite macro challenges.
“India, particularly Indian technology, is a standout in terms of long-term opportunities. India has a young population, many of them growing into the middle class. Internet and mobile penetration have been growing significantly, and we are backing companies with innovative business models that build on that new infrastructure,” he said.
In India, the fund has investments across asset classes including real estate, infrastructure, public and private equities, funds and co-investments, and credit.
The fund's long-term focus and its diversified portfolio allow it to weather short-term volatility and events such as the COVID-19 pandemic better than many investors.
“In addition to making new investments and exiting old investments, it is also equally important for us to manage our existing portfolio to ensure the assets continue to grow in value,” he said.
For other names on the Top 20 pension executives list, click here.
(All AUM figures are in US dollars.)
AsianInvestor will feature executives from another Canadian fund and a Chinese pension fund on Monday.