Edward Smith is to become Legalsuper’s first chief investment officer on June 29.

Smith is joining the $2.6 billion fund from Australian Unity, where he was head of portfolio management and responsible for a team managing the assets of several friendly societies, two health companies, the non-lending assets of a building society and wholesale and retail unit trusts.

In a wide and varied career that started out in actuarial analysis in New Zealand in 1986, Smith has worked for Frontier Investment Consulting, Victorian Funds Management Corporation, Trust Investments Management in New Zealand and Frank Russell. His roles have covered asset liability modelling, teaching, business development and investment.

Smith was also until recently an investment committee member of the Financial Services Council.

At Legalsuper he will be supported by David St John, a former chief investment officer of UniSuper and Neville Hathaway, a former fund manager, who both sit on the Legalsuper investment committee, as well as by the fund’s consultant Towers Watson.

Legalsuper’s chief executive, Andrew Proebstl, said one of Smith’s major activities would be to source investment opportunities ideal for the fund’s size, but too small for consideration by larger super funds.

Proebstl is a strong proponent of the belief that small-sized funds such as Legalsuper have the ability to be more nimble in markets than larger funds, and to be generally more effective than they are given credit for.