The board of Frontier Investment Consulting will consider creating a CEO role, to allow managing director Fiona Trafford-Walker and her deputy, Kristian Fok, more time to spend with clients.

Trafford-Walker and Fok currently split responsibility for such inward-looking functions as business strategy, marketing, human resources, information technology and finance.

However both also have a busy schedule of client-facing asset consulting, and Trafford-Walker said it was getting more difficult to do both sides of the job properly.

She said she’d spent the last three years trying to make her role more business-focused, and had succeeeded in areas such as extending Frontier’s client base beyond superannuation funds, but her workload had been dramatically increased by the global financial crisis and then by the “rapidly changing landscape” brought about by the Cooper Review.

The client-centric skills of herself and Fok were required more than ever, Trafford-Walker said, adding that the board agreed the firm needed to be “structured as sustainably” as possible.

“You have to remember that Frontier’s structure was put in place 10 years ago when we employed 10 people – today we employ 40,” she said.

Frontier’s board will next meet in February, and Trafford-Walker confirmed that the possible creation of a CEO role would be on the agenda. There was no funding on specific description for the role as yet.

Trafford-Walker and Kristian Fok are executive directors on the board. The independent chair is Geoff Ashton (a former chair of Superannuation Trust of Australia and then AustralianSuper from 2006-07), while there is a director nominated by each of Frontier’s shareholders. These are Don Good (HESTA), Michael O’Connor (FIRST), Gabriel Szondy (AustralianSuper) and David Atkin (Cbus).

The possible creation of a CEO role was not intended to dramatically increase Frontier’s profitability, Trafford-Walker said. The culture of the firm would continue to be one that focuses on the quality of its research, rather than making massive profits – indeed, Frontier continues to generate annual revenues of roughly $10 million from a pool of funds under advice exceeding $100 billion.

 

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