As Doug McTaggart prepares to leave his position as chief executive officer of QIC, he says the state-owned asset manager is well positioned to build on its growing client base.
QIC, under McTaggart, has expanded from its foundation clients, the Queensland government and QSuper, and increasingly looked to commercial opportunities via large institutional investors in Australia and Asia.
“There has been a lot of strategising and adapting along the way as the global external environment has changed. But QIC has gone from a being a manager of large balanced funds for a few clients to a diversified, multi-boutique house running many products for many clients,” says McTaggart.
QIC manages more than $63.5 billion in assets under management and its more than 90-strong client base includes large Australian super funds and sovereign wealth funds in Asia
Last year QIC set up a beachhead in China, with former Australian ambassador to China, Geoff Raby, acting as a Beijing-based consultant for the firm.
McTaggart says QIC recently bolstered its Chinese push by hiring a local investment staff member in Beijing.
Reflecting on his 14 years heading up QIC, McTaggart nominates building top-performing teams across a variety of asset classes, and attaining and retaining good staff as his key achievements.
“Collecting together asset-class people, investment managers and taking them on this journey into the boutique world, we have some of the top-ranked teams in the country and we retain them, and they are happy at QIC,” he says. “So we have built a stronger organisation around good people.”
In recent times there have been a number of high-profile departures from the state-owned asset manager. These include in 2009, Brad Holzberger, then-head of asset managers at QIC, leaving to become chief investment officer at QSuper, the firm’s largest client.
On the back of the Holzberger departure, Damien Lillicrap, Charles Woodhouse and Michael Pennisi moved to senior positions at QSuper.
Holzberger’s replacement, Hazel McNeilage, also left last year, saying QIC wanted to split her responsibilities for fund-management oversight and distribution.
Under his leadership, McTaggart says QIC has not been afraid to try different approaches, including looking at innovative ways to manage risk across the portfolio and alternative beta strategies.
“We have tried a few complex things along the way, [such as] alpha-beta separation, and we have been willing to try new techniques or strategies. The timing hasn’t always been right for them but it has been fun and we have learnt a lot along the way,” he says.
The asset manager has a range of products under development, including a post-retirement product.
Since announcing his retirement from QIC earlier in the year, McTaggart has snared some key appointments.
These include a position on the Suncorp board, as well as an appointment to cast an eye over the books for the new Queensland government.