HostPlus’s successful exploitation of the long investment horizon of its young member demographic has seen Sam Sicilia named as the FEAL/ La Trobe Financial chief investment officer of the year.
The strategy has seen HostPlus achieve top quartile investment returns for 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 years to the end of June 2014.
Speaking after receiving his award presented by Joanna Davison, chief executive of FEAL, Sicilia said: “Without our young member demographic we would not have the cash to take advantage of opportunities and we would be in a vastly different position.”
He contrasted the way the average retail fund might have equally high equity allocations (60 per cent), but whose defensive assets were largely bonds rather than property and infrastructure.
“Provided you can tolerate the illiquidity, unlisted assets provide downside protection in volatile markets,” said Sicilia. “When equity markets go north unlisted assets follow later and vice versa, but when equity markets are volatile the unlisted assets are flat, it is as simple as that.”
The other key events for Hostplus in the past year, include turning the fund into a pooled superannuation trust, switching custodians and winning the Selecting Super fund of the year 2014 and the retirement fund of the year.
Sicilia will receive a $10,000 prize – last year’s winner Gerard Parlevliet, of Commonwealth Bank Super, used the prize to fund an educational course at Stanford University.
Sicilia has won the award at the third time of trying, after being short listed in the previous two years.
The other short listed CIOs for this year’s award were Ian Lundy of the Retirement Benefits Fund and Andrew Spence of Qantas Super.
In the night’s other award, Nicolle Rantanen of Statewide Super won chief operating officer of the year.
Rantanen has overseen a transformation in her fund’s administration efficiency that has reduced fees for members and put the fund in a position where it is now seeking to offer its administration services to other fund’s with significant membership in South Australia.
This process has included the introduction of work flow, process re-engineering and targeted system enhancements as well as the roll out of a cultural change program.
She has also successfully overseen the merger of Statewide operations with Local Super, in doing so undertaking a review of insurance for members and leading the early introduction of a MySuper product in 2013.
Next year, FEAL and La Trobe Financial will be introducing a chief financial officer of the year award to this event.