Members of Energy Super, the $3.8 billion industry fund, know the home address of chairman Bob Henricks in the south-east Brisbane suburb of Mt Gravatt East.

“They know where I live,” Henricks says, referring to fund members. “I can’t go to Woolworths without people questioning me.”

This brings home a sense of accountability for overseeing investments for more than 45,000 current and former workers in Queensland’s electrical trades, Henricks says.

“I know that I can’t go to the shops without people asking, ‘Bob, what are you doing with my money?’”

Henricks, who is also chair of the Energy Super’s investment committee, shares the same interest as fund members. The 66 year old has not bought a stock since establishing AUST(Q) Superannuation, a $181 million fund, in 1985. He sold the last property he owned, a 33-acre block near Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales with a share of the Rous River, eight years ago. He invested the proceeds in super – his only source of investment savings.

“I’ve got all of my money in this fund. While 70 per cent of members’ funds are in the balanced option, that’s where I’ll be,” Henricks says.

“I’m in a position to say ‘What happens to you, happens to me’.”

Henricks has not lost money in the past decade. Energy Super’s balanced fund, which invests about 70 per cent of members’ capital, delivered a net return of 2.57 per cent each year for the five years ending with the last financial year. It delivered an annual net return of 5 per cent for the 10 years ending last financial year.

The fund’s $1.3 billion defined benefit (DB) portfolio generated a net annual return of 2.56 per cent for the five years ending June 30, 2011. It delivered a net 4.54 per cent return each year for the 10 years ending on the same date. The similar returns of the balanced and DB portfolios were probably achieved because they invest in the same assets (see figure 1).

At June 30, 2011, Energy Super’s defined benefit portfolio was sufficiently liquid to pay all retirees within one day if they chose to leave the fund.

Henricks’ familiarity with Energy Super members goes beyond investment returns. Born in the innercity Brisbane suburb of Paddington, he undertook an electrician apprenticeship at the age of 14. He worked for a decade in the trade before joining the Electrical Trades Union, now a division of the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union, as state organiser and national president.

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