The recipient of the 2016 Chief Investment Officer of the Year award at the Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards, First State Super’s Richard Brandweiner, is characteristically deferential about his achievement.
“It really comes down to the quality of the board I work with, the chair of the investment committee and of course the rest of the team included in the investment area, but also across the rest of the business,” he says.
Brandweiner describes his fellow band of chief investment officers as a community, which shares information and insights.
“People like [finalists] Trish [Donohue] and Kristian [Fok, both from Cbus] and Paul [Kessell, of Kinetic Super], we are part of a really wonderful community of investors that, in particular in the not-for-profit world, you probably might not know a lot about,” he says.
“There’s a lot of sharing of ideas, there’s a lot of collaboration, and it’s an incredibly important relationship, because as I’ve said many times, we are deploying an enormous amount of capital into a relatively small system.
To put that into perspective, you all know the [superannuation] system is $2 trillion, GDP is $1.5 trillion, we’re much bigger; but because of that mandated growth we’ve been talking about tonight, it’s going to become overwhelming.
“It’s only going to be in a handful of years that the superannuation system is going to be four, five times the size of the economy. That’s like Germany arriving deploying capital.”
Brandweiner says the task of investing will become more complex as the size of the superannuation pool comes to dwarf the economy, and “the way we deploy … capital is going to have profound implications, whether we like it or not, for the world into which our members retire”.
“And it’s really only all of us together, thinking about that, that will actually ultimately lead to the outcomes that our members will need,” he says.
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Brandweiner says he and his team and “many of our peers are making a big effort to contribute back to this system”.
“I see this [award] very much as recognition of that contribution,” he says.
“In the not-for-profit world, our purpose is very clear. And you can’t share that purpose unless you are drawn to work there, to work in a place like that. You’re attracting a certain type of person who is drawn to that sense of purpose. That extends into being part of that community.
“However, there’s one other thing that I’d add, and that is: it’s fun. There are some great investors dealing with very large sums of money and I think we all get a lot out of each other.”