Last month Andrew Day, chief executive of Hastings Funds Management, brought most of his 100 colleagues, who work as far afield as London and San Antonio, Texas, to Melbourne to think about the infrastructure investor’s goals.
For two days Hastings staff discussed how to transform the $6.5-billion fund manager into a more international company.
“As we’re an Australian company and an international company, we have to make sure the two are connected,” says Day.
“We have to get everybody on board to make that happen. That is the key part to make the company global.”
Day says Hastings is well positioned to take advantage of more money being allocated to infrastructure globally. In Australia, Europe and the US, governments and banks are divesting themselves of infrastructure due to debt or regulatory pressures.
The CEO candidly admits he’s not a fund or investment expert. Day says he tries to cultivate “openness, trust and inclusiveness” at Hastings so that the “best ideas get on the table.”
He has set up a program office to monitor all the things Hastings does to ensure there is discipline in the implementation of projects.
“It’s monitoring without the interference,” says Day.
Over its 17-year history Hastings has produced annual returns of between 12 and 13 per cent, according to Day.
When he arrived at his new job in October 2001, Day pressed his colleagues to “re-establish relations with funds and investors.”
Hasting has about 80 clients in its unlisted debt and equity funds.
“People are not so keen on an externally managed listed model,” says Day. “We will concentrate on unlisted assets and try to expand our clients.”
Getting talented staff to stay at Hastings is an important part of Day’s job. He says the shareholding structure of the firm, where staff will be able to take as much as a 20 per cent stake in the company, is an incentive for people to stay put.
Westpac currently owns about 90 per cent of Hastings with staff owning the remainder.
More important than compensation, Day says, is as a chief executive making people feel valued and offering them career opportunities.
“You want an inclusive environment,” he says. “You get that by listening to people and creating an environment and structure where their views are respected.”
Day found that when he called for the two-day brainstorming session some of Hastings staff could not make it. They were involved in the bid to secure the contract to manage the Sydney Desalination Plant.
On May 11 New South Wales Treasurer Mike Baird announced that Hastings, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and the Utilities Trust of Australia had won a 50-year $2.3-billion contract to manage the desalination plant. The deal closed June 1 after about nine months of work by Hastings and its partners to secure the deal.