Global consulting firm Cambridge Associates (CA) has scored its first major contract in New Zealand, replacing Russell in the plum role as adviser to the country’s largest charitable trust.

The news comes just months after another Australian-based consultant, JANA, won the advisory role at the NZ$230 million Trust Waikato, also displacing Russell.

Eugene Snyman, head of CA’s Sydney office, confirmed the group, which specialises in the endowment and not-for-profit sector, was appointed to advise the NZ$800 million ASB Community Trust at the end of last year.

Snyman said the win marks CA’s first long-term consulting job in New Zealand.

“We were a good fit [with the ASB Community Trust] because of our coverage in the non-profit space,” he said. “We are able to give unique investment advice and observations about the [not-for-profit] type of capital pool.”

According to Snyman, the ASB Trust was also attracted to CA’s global capacity as well as its independence.

He said CA has already begun reviewing ASB’s existing portfolio and would soon embark on a full strategic asset allocation review.

“That may result in some changes in policy and underlying managers… it’s too early to say now,” Snyman said.

It has been a tough year for the ASB Trust, which saw its total assets drop from just over NZ$1 billion at the end of March 2008 to NZ$789 million a year later.

Last year the Trust implemented tighter grantmaking controls. In its latest annual report ASB says it also decided to defer “decisions on 2009-10 financial year grant applications to the second half of the year”.

The ASB Trust was not available for comment.

Snyman said CA had identified the New Zealand community trust market, which features about a dozen large regional organisations, as “important”.
“We’d be delighted to grow there further,” he said.

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