Equip Super and Catholic Super have appointed Anna Shelley as CIO after announcing they are joining forces to create a $26 billion joint venture.

The appointment of Shelley – who is currently CIO of Catholic Super – follows last week’s announcement that Scott Cameron, the former chief executive of Computershare in Australia and New Zealand, would head up  both funds and run the merged when it begins operating in October.

The opportunity to appoint a CIO follows the resignation of Equip’s current CIO, Troy Rieck last week.

Equip Super chairman Andrew Fairley, welcomed Shelley’s appointment as another significant step towards a successful joint venture.

“This CIO appointment is an opportunity to align the two funds from an investment perspective and strongly position us for further growth,” he said. “It brings greater business continuity and enhances our capacity to continue to deliver for members, with scope for additional expansion.”

The Equip Super and Catholic Super joint venture has been hailed as a landmark deal in an industry which is consolidating rapidly. Subject to completion of final due diligence, the Memorandum of Understanding will establish a Joint Venture Trustee managing funds for about 150,000 members.

The joint venture’s unique structure maintains both superannuation brands.

Under the structure, funds will share a single trustee which will be led by a new, merged trustee board. This Extended Public Offer (EPO) model enables participating funds to achieve economies of scale in administration and investments, without loss of brand identity or control of relationships with members, employers and other stakeholders.

Fairley said the license, which enables it to partner with other funds while allowing their brands to be retained, should assist the new fund to build to around $50 billion in funds under management by 2025.

Peter Haysey, acting chair of Catholic Super, called Shelley an experienced leader with an extensive investment management and business strategy background and who has been impressive during her time at Catholic Super.

“Both investment teams have begun working extensively to bring together the two existing investment portfolios. We look forward to Anna leading the teams through the joint venture operating model as we prepare for a full merger”.

Shelley said she was looking forward to bringing both teams together, with a common vision and strategy to assist the joint venture.

“Both Equip Super and Catholic Super are high-performing industry leaders,” she said. “By aligning our strategies and portfolios we will deliver the best outcomes for our superannuation members.”

The tie-up is unlikely to alter investment strategy much since the funds’ asset allocation mix is similar. Further, the CIO said the two funds have already  agreed on a common set of investment beliefs although there was already a huge overlap. “We will still be very keen in active investing and we’ll still have a strong belief in incorporating ESG assessments into our assessment of managers and investment opportunities,” she added.

According to Shelley, the greater scale will change strategy only slightly. “I don’t think there is a huge difference between how you invest in a $10 billion fund versus a $16 billion or $26 billion fund so, by and large, we will continue what we are already doing.

“Obviously as we continue to grow beyond $26 billion, you  prepare for the fact you might have to invest slightly differently beyond that point, but we are not there yet.”

Shelley was appointed CIO of the $10 billion Catholic Super fund in April 2018. She has held several senior positions across the financial services sector. Before joining Catholic Super, she was general manager, product and strategy at Perpetual which has assets totalling $30 billion. Prior to Perpetual, she was head of investment product at MLC Investment Management, where she was responsible for developing NAB’s MySuper strategy.

She has recently been invited to join Bloomberg’s New Voices initiative, promoting the inclusion of leading women in commentary about the financial sector.

Elizabeth Fry has been a financial journalist for more than 25 years and has written for a number of publications, including CFO, The Financial Times and The Australian Financial Review.
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