UniSuper’s long-serving chair Chris Cuffe will step down at the end of the current financial year. Board member Ian Martin has been appointed his successor.

The $60 billion default superannuation fund for university staff made the announcement on Tuesday May 9, 2017.

Martin is a former chief executive of the Westpac-owned BT Financial Group who joined the UniSuper board as an independent director in April 2013. He is currently the chair of Argo Investments Limited, Argo Global Listed Infrastructure Limited, and vice-chair, Asia Pacific, of Berkshire Capital. He is also chair of the Wayside Chapel Foundation.

“In a strategic sense, my first priority is more of the same. UniSuper’s strategy is clear and so the transition will be reasonable seamless,” Martin told Investment Magazine.

The fund’s returns are some of the highest in the sector. According to SuperRatings, UniSuper returned 10.56 per cent per annum over five years, compared to the industry median of 9.18 per cent.

Cuffe – a former chief executive of the Commonwealth Bank business Colonial First State – has been on the UniSuper board for more than 10 years, including the past six years as chair. He will step down at the end of his current term effective June 30, 2017, but will stay on the fund’s investment committee as a non-director member.

“Chris has guided the board through a transformative time within the business and we have benefitted enormously from his wealth of experience, insight and leadership. There has been extensive change within our fund and the broader industry over the last decade and we are in a much stronger position today due to Chris’ guidance and oversight,” UniSuper chief executive Kevin O’Sullivan said.

Cuffe said it had been fantastic to watch the superannuation sector grow from a ‘cottage’ industry to a full ‘house’ over the past decade.

As to the future, Cuffe told Investment Magazine that as he was type ‘A’ personality he was definitely on the lookout for something else. Currently, his time is split between the commercial and philanthropic sectors.

UniSuper was one of the first not-for-profit super funds to have independent directors on its board and an independent chair. Currently, the board structure has three independent directors, four member representative directors, and four employer directors.

To keep the balance following Cuffe’s departure, Mark Armour has been appointed as the third independent director, effective July 1, 2017. He was formerly the head as head of the European business of Invesco, CEO of Invesco Australia and CEO of Funds Management at AXA Australia.

The outgoing chair said the board had voted unanimously to appoint Armour.

“We welcome Mark to the board and have no doubt he will bring a valuable global perspective to our discussions. Given Mark’s extensive experience and high regard within the industry, the board unanimously supported his appointment as a director and looks forward to the different perspectives he will bring to the board,” Cuffe said.

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