The next chief executive of Sunsuper will have to handle the fund’s expected rapid growth, according to chair, Graham Heilbronn, who says projections show the fund growing from $24 billion to $40 billion in the next five years.
The fund will be searching internally as well as externally for a new chief executive, with Heilbronn recognising the fund has an “extremely good executive” team.
The expected growth, which will come from contributions, investments and merger activity, will be a significant part of the fund’s strategy.
“This is time to renew and go ahead,” he says, “and our growth will be happening quickly over the next five years.”
The fund is looking at merger targets in both the industry and corporate fund sector, and Heilbronn identifies the most important ingredient for success as cultural fit. “We are not from one single industry so it is easier for us to incorporate different views and backgrounds,” he says.
There was “no scuttlebutt” over Tony Lally stepping down as chief executive, according to Heilbronn, denying there had been disagreement over merger and acquisitions.
“It was a very friendly parting of ways,” he says. “Tony has done a damn good job.”
He also says the board was not adverse to a restructure if it was required as part of a merger.
“Each merger is different in how to structure the board. It really comes down to representing members. If, for example, there is a large representation in a particular state then it is important to have them represented,” he says.
The strategy is also such that Sunsuper will continue to focus on members’ needs, something Heilbronn says sets the fund apart.
“We were really the first to realise that there needed to be a focus on member needs and particularly user-friendly communication through modern technology. We will pursue that harder as we try to get committed buy-in from our members,” he says. “We have been very commercial and will continue to be.”
Even though Sunsuper is now an Australia-wide fund, it grew up in Queensland and the board is made up of Queensland business and union representatives.
The Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry appoints three of its representatives, while on the member side are representatives appointed by the Queensland Council of Unions, the Australian Workers Union of Employees, Queensland.
According to Sunsuper’s 2011/12 annual report, the total remuneration paid to the board was $520,610; while the total remuneration paid to key management was $3,036,628.
Heilbronn recognised that the board lacked female representation, but said this was not for any reason. He says this will be something that will be addressed as positions come up for election.
Sunsuper rotates its chair position every three years and Heilbronn’s term will finish at the end of this year.