The chair of one of

Australia’s
largest super funds, State Super NSW, said that investment expertise was a
major criteria in the selection of its new chief
executive.

Chris
Durack, most recently the general manager of the internal investment
teams
at Challenger, started at the $30 billion-plus closed defined benefit fund for
NSW public servants on February 9. Durack has no direct experience running a
super fund but is highly respected as an asset consultant to super
funds,
having had stints at Towers Perrin and Mercer, where he also ran retail
product
research.

Durack
said he was looking forward to working with State Super CIO, Martin Drew, on
maintaining the out performance of the fund. The pair have worked together
previously at Mercer. State Super chair, Don Russell, said the board had sought
out a CEO with investment experience, and lauded Durack as someone with “strong
people
management
skills” who would complement Drew’s investment work.

“The
notion of having a CEO who is purely a manager, and a CIO who’s some sort of
larger-than-life character who operates completely outside the skill set of the
CEO, I don’t think that’s a model that works at all,” Russell said. Lyn
Collingridge of the SAS Trustee Corporation, the State Super secretariat, had
been acting as CEO while the lengthy executive search (coordinated by Russell
Reynolds) took place.

The
State Government was forced to lift the $428,000-a-year salary cap on the CEO
position late last year, after finding no suitably qualified candidates
for
the position.
Russell
said the lifting of the salary cap “made things a lot easier” but
stressed
the board had not “pushed the envelope” in setting a salary for Durack.

“We
are now paying a competitive salary within our universe, which is the other
State-based funds, whereas [the old pay scale] was way out of touch.”
In
SAS Trustee Corporation’s 2006/07 annual report, former CEO Don McLean was
listed as earning $247,300, plus a $27,000 retention
bonus.

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