IOOF Holdings’ longstanding head of Australian equities, Dan Farmer, will replace Steve Merlicek as chief investment officer from July 1, 2017.

The $2.7 billion ASX-listed wealth-management firm announced on Thursday that, after eight years as IOOF’s chief investment officer, Merlicek will stand down from the role from June 30. He will remain a member of the firm’s investment management committee.

Farmer, currently IOOF portfolio manager Australian equities, will succeed him. Farmer has worked at the company for seven years.

At June 30, 2016, IOOF controlled $131.1 billion in funds, across superannuation and other wealth-management products.

Following his retirement from executive life, Merlicek is expected to devote more time to directorships, particularly his existing role as chair of Activus Investment Advisors.

Activus is a boutique asset consulting business quietly co-founded by Merlicek and managing director Robert Talevski in 2016.

Talevski previously worked for Merlicek at Telstra Super, one of the country’s largest corporate super funds and where Merlicek was chief investment officer for 10 years prior to joining IOOF.

The pair have ambitions to steal business from the big four asset consultants – Mercer, Willis Towers Watson, Frontier Advisors, and JANA. Between leaving Telstra Super and starting Activus, Talevski worked as a consultant for JANA.

IOOF managing director Chris Kelaher said he was pleased Merlicek would continue his association with IOOF as a member of the investment management committee.

“Steve has made an outstanding contribution to IOOF and has been instrumental in delivering impressive investment outperformance over the long-term,” Kelaher said. “Steve has also built a strong and capable investment team, testament to which is the elevation of Dan Farmer to the chief investment officer role.

“I am very pleased that we have the talent and bench strength to appoint an internal successor. The company has supported Steve in building a high-calibre investment management team. I am confident that Dan and the investment team will continue the strong track record of investment outperformance following the planned transition.”

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