The simple member-comes-first focus of running an industry fund will make a welcome change from managing retail superannuation funds, Scott Hartley has said in his first public interview as chief executive elect of Sunsuper.

The former general manager of National Australia Bank’s corporate and institutional wealth team is moving from Sydney to Brisbane to take over the role on January 28.

Hartley, who confirmed he is not related to David Hartley, chief investment officer at Sunsuper, said: “Remembering that the member is also a shareholder and you only have one stakeholder to worry about makes life a lot less confusing and creates a very powerful focus for the executive running the business. I am looking forward to that.”

While fighting shy of commenting on future strategy until he has spoken to the board and the executive team, he spoke of the potential he saw at Sunsuper and of the work already acheived in publicising the brand.

“Teifi Whatley and her team have done a great job of consumer marketing, they have clearly been one of the best at consumer marketing in the industry. That is a great platform to work with,” he said

He also revealed some of his core beliefs on the industry by joining widespread calls for greater regulation of self-managed super funds, though he is sceptical of the role of direct investment options in halting the rise in members leaving industry funds.

“Individuals running their own fund are at high risk of exploitation by unscrupulous operators in the financial industry, there should be further focus from the government on the activity there,” he said.

“But I wonder about the effectiveness of some of those proposed solutions (direct investment options) in stopping people from moving to SMSFs. I do not have the data to support that view, but I will be keen to understand that a whole lot better when I start on January 28.”

Hartley’s depth of relevant experience is broad having looked after corporate superannuation funds, financial planning and implement consulting solutions. He has been credited with winning the BHP Billiton and Shell corporate accounts for Plum Super. Talking off the record, a key figure in the superannuation industry described the axeing of Hartley’s position at National Australia Bank in April as “dumb” and credited him with being a “first rate executive”.

Sunsuper’s deputy chairman John Battams cited this experience as the reason for Hartley’s appointment and said he would be charged with fulfilling Sunsuper’s strategic ambitions to grow the member and client base nationally.

Over the last 15 years, as well as his role at National Australia Bank, Hartley has also held directorships with Plum Financial Services and JANA Investment Advisers. The move to Brisbane will be a return home for Hartley who attended Brisbane Boys College.

He will take over from interim chief executive Bruce Wilson, who has looked after the role since Tony Lally left the role in August.

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