Labour Union Cooperative and Retirement Fund (LUCRF) has hired a senior analyst from Mercer to strengthen the independence of its internal investment team in making investment decisions, according to LUCRF chief executive Greg Sword.

Andrew Wee from Mercer was hired as part of a two-year program the $2.4 billion fund has in place to increase its internal staff in order to maintain and strengthen the “fiercely independent” fund, Sword said. The program has not fixed upon an ideal number of staff. Rather, Sword said the onus was on investment performance and what could be done to make LUCRF as fully informed as possible. Wee’s hire to the position of investment officer brings the investment team to three, with Wee and another investment officer reporting to LUCRF investment oversight officer David McCusker. Sword said LUCRF would continue to use Watson Wyatt as an external asset consultant, but still saw a need to have as much independence as possible in “testing” its advice. He said while the fund might rely on the advice of the external consultant, it was important LUCRF analysed the underlying managers’ performance and their investments to see if they continued to match LUCRF’s strategic asset allocation. Meanwhile, LUCRF has lost internal audit compliance officer Steven Berry from its four-strong team. Berry has taken a position at UniSuper, according to Sword. LUCRF will not immediately look to replace Berry, but rather will use the departure to review the structure of the internal audit area with a likely result being a more senior hire in the compliance team, Sword said.