Lounarda David and Rav Gray were both recognised with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 20th Conexus Financial Investment Operations Conference.

In the superannuation industry, it is usually the chief executives and chief investment officers who get all the acclaim. But no high-performing fund could function without a top-notch administration, custody and back-office team.

At the 20th Conexus Financial Investment Operations Conference in Sydney this week, the industry celebrated two individuals who have dedicated their working lives to investment operations, and overseen enormous change and growth.

Sunsuper chief investment operations officer Lounarda David and NAB Asset Servicing associate director, client relationships, Ravnol ‘Rav’ Gray were the two recipients of a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gray began his career in 1987 as a settlement clerk at the National Australia Bank subsidiary then called National Custodian Services and now known as NAB Asset Servicing.

As well as servicing NAB’s own superannuation businesses, NAB Asset Servicing is also one of the country’s largest providers of back-office administration and custody services to external super fund clients.

Gray, who is renowned for his absolute attention to detail, has played an instrumental role in the development of many of the country’s largest industry funds. For decades, he has worked closely with Cbus Super, Care Super, Statewide Super, MTAA Super and others.

NAB Asset Servicing general manager David Knights praised Gray for his “exceptional relationship management skills” and the respect he has earned among his clients in the superannuation industry.

“With his end-to-end knowledge of the custody industry, Rav’s dedication to his clients has enabled some funds to grow [to] more than 50 times their size since 1997,” Knights said.

Sunsuper’s David spent 16 years as a consultant with State Street and later Mercer, helping super funds and other institutional clients with all facets of custody, investment operations, unit pricing, securities lending, transition management, target operating models, operational due diligence and risk management.

In 2014, she took on her current role at Sunsuper, where she sits on the executive leadership group. No mandate can be awarded by the $35 billion Queensland-based industry fund without her sign-off.

Sunsuper executive general manager, people, Jason Sommer praised David for her contribution to the business.

David said she had found it deeply satisfying to “start practising what I’d been preaching for years” since going in-house at Sunsuper.

Earlier in the day, David and Knights opened the conference by reflecting on the enormous changes in the sector over the past 20 years as the pool of assets under management has swollen to $2.1 trillion.

When the first Conexus Financial Investment Operations Conference was held, 20 years ago, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority was still a year off opening its doors. Since then, the volume and complexity of regulation affecting the industry have ballooned.

Industry consolidation has also been a major theme of the past two decades. In 1998, there were 4734 APRA-regulated super funds; by 2016 there were just 244.

Looking ahead, David and Knights predicted that technological advancements, such as Blockchain, would set an even more rapid pace of change for the next 20 years.

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