State Super is building its inhouse team, appointing former AMP Capital chief investment officer, Mark O’Brien, to general manager of investments. In a move that echoes a rising industry trend of hiring outside the sector, State Super’s chief executive, John Livanas, says industry silos are being broken down and it’s a good thing for the industry.

“People are feeling much more comfortable moving across from one to the other,” he tells IM Online.

“Whether it’s private or public sector funds or industry funds, we all face the same problems and the same challenges in terms of investing.

“I think it’s much more usual to see that than unusual. But certainly the trend has been that way.”

An increasing number of funds are hiring talent, including fund managers, from outside the sector as they boost inhouse resources. In recent years, Uni Super recruited former Colonial First State Investment Management chief executive, John Pearce, as its chief investment officer, and Australian Super brought in Innes McKeand, formerly of UK firm Aegon Asset Management, as its head of equities. Last year, Sunsuper recruited former private-markets analyst from WestLB, Mark Lee, to its team.

Livanas says State Super, a $36-billion fund among the world’s 100 largest, is focused on building its team from the top down and enhancing its capability to better manage investments.

“Whenever you’ve got a bigger team, you’ve got the capacity to look at your investments in a much more granular fashion, and what that allows you to do is to be much more considered, and be able to do things that you couldn’t when you don’t have enough resources in house,” he says.

“It’s allowed us to be smarter in terms of how we manage our investments, our risk controls, our systems, managing the performance of the investments, etcetera.”

Livanas says there’s a greater push for skills given industry and government funds have huge amounts of money to invest. For State Super, he adds, O’Brien’s previous experience managing a large amount of money, as well as capability to build a team, contributed to his appointment.

State Super’s various asset allocations are available here.


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