As I&T News draws to a close for another year, 2008 has proven no exception to the rule that our readers love stories about people moves – be they appointments or disappointments.
A ‘canary in the coalmine’ for the mass sackings of November, our August exclusive on the first 100 redundancies at BT Financial Group was our second-most clicked story of the year.
It was surpassed only by our grim November 4 revelation that AMP Capital Investors had sliced headcount by 30. Some other samples from the year’s Top 20 headlines: ‘State Street Australia cuts from top in global downsizing’; ‘QIC overseer of external managers goes’; ‘Sacked CSAM Australia exec sues in test of whistleblower laws’; ‘Lehman Brothers shuts down Australian asset management business’; ‘Executive exodus from Fidelity Investments’; ‘Russell retrenches 20-year veteran in alternatives shake-up’; ‘BTIM cuts sales veteran loose as 10 told to walk’…you get the picture.
But it wasn’t all schadenfreude on the part of readers. Our third most popular story was the unveiling of seven new Future Fund managers, as the sovereign fund’s annual report was released in October. Predictably, anything that David Murray’s mob did in 2008 produced a flurry of clicking. Our June exclusive on four mandates awarded by the Fund, and a March wrap-up on how it had recently doubled its investment team, were eagerly consumed both by service providers keen for a share of the FF billions, and super fund staff looking to learn a thing or two from our nation’s biggest fiduciary investor.
Another popular subject for I&T News is asset consultant activities. And when the story involves the Future Fund’s principal asset consultant, Watson Wyatt, the yarn becomes more popular still. Our October exclusive on the departure of Michael Blayney, just moments after he’d been anointed head of W.Wyatt’s Portfolio Construction Group, was a biggie. So was our February reveal of Tony Arnold’s defection to the consultancy, from Mercer.
Meanwhile, a couple of new clients for JANA translated to big readership figures for I&T News. Catholic Super’s historic decision to shift to JANA from Mercer – the only consultant it had ever known – was August’s biggest story, while back in the schadenfreude department, the travails of InTech as it surrendered WorkCover NSW was our clickthrough champion in June.
Of course, the influence of asset consultants is waning at some funds that are building up their own investment teams. Indeed, the comings-and-goings of super fund CEOs and CIOs provided a few of our biggest stories in 2008 – for instance Lochiel Crafter’s out-of-the-blue return from Asia to run ARIA, Andrew Spence as Qantas Super CIO, Michael Block’s shift from WorkCover to FuturePlus CIO, and Bill Dwyer’s stunning move from Mercer Aussie equities research chief to investment boss at NGS Super.