The new chair of Victorian Funds Management Corporation, John Fraser, has flagged that he will spend more time in Australia and devote an increasing number of days per month to VFMC duties as the year rolls on, raising doubts over how much longer the native Melbournian will be the chair and chief executive of UBS Global Asset Management.
After officially taking up chairmanship of the $30 billion-plus funds manager for Victorian public sector funds on July 1, Fraser was in Melbourne last week meeting VFMC staff and clients, and was also understood to be interviewing candidates for the still-vacant role of VFMC chief executive.
It is understood that during those meetings, Fraser indicated he would be spending increasingly more time in Australia (where much of his immediate family is based) attending to the business of chairing VFMC, one of Australia’s largest funds managers.
This raises the question of how much longer Fraser will maintain his current level of extensive UBS responsibilities, for which he is based in London. Fraser is also a member of the UBS Group executive board and chairman of UBS Saudi Arabia.
Fraser, understood to be at a property he owns in the ACT at the time of writing, was unavailable for comment. However a UBS spokesperson said there had been no changes to his role, while a VFMC spokesperson said Fraser was well known as a “global citizen”, whose ability to commit fully to all of his current roles should not be underestimated.
In his meetings with VFMC staff, it is understood Fraser exhumed a proposal much discussed at the funds manager over the years – that he would like to see it offer its services beyond Victorian public sector funds. However, such a move would require changes to the state Parliamentary Act which created VFMC.
Last November, Fraser told an offshore funds management magazine that he considered his revamp of UBS GAM was complete, after commencing a restructure when he came on board as chief executive in 2001. He pointed to a diversification away from ‘mainstream’ asset management product, and improved profit incentive participation for staff, as hallmarks of the restructure.
Fraser was an Australian Treasury official for two decades before joining UBS GAM in 2001.