The $65 billion Victorian Funds Management Corporation has appointed former Vanguard executive Keli Saville to oversee digital and technology, the latest in a series of changes at the fund that recently saw the departure of its heads of equities and risk.

Saville, who will join the sovereign fund in February, is currently the regional head of data management at Vanguard Asia Pacific. She previously held a number of senior technology and data management roles including at the ANZ Bank. VFMC also appointed former UniSuper ESG expert, Talieh Williams, as head of investment stewardship reporting to the chief investment officer.

The appointments follows the departure of the head of equities, Kent Sutherland, who is leaving after a 15-year stint with the organisation and Bryony Hayes, the fund’s head of risk, has also resigned after six years taking a role in a corporate super fund. Senior portfolio manager Michael Stravropoulos is currently acting in the head of equities role until a replacement is found.

VFMC’s chief executive Lisa Gray said the two new hires were critical as the fund integrates ESG into investment decision-making and builds further resilience around investment performance. She also said the industry’s move to recruit professionals who have both data science and investment management capabilities was one of the biggest shifts in the investment field.

Of Saville’s appointment Gray said: “We continue to build our capabilities in digital, data and analytics, to enable us to gain greater insight into investment positioning in a tougher environment.

She said these capabilities will lead to greater insights into investment risk management across the whole portfolio.

“Resilience is essential to survive in an unpredictable future,” according to Gray. “It is now critical to have people in investment management who have the breadth of knowledge to invest across the whole portfolio and to understand data analytics and insights sufficiently to make timely decisions.”

To this end, she is recruiting people to take a broader portfolio approach which she said was “critical in these complex dynamic capital markets”. In a bid to increase the bench strength within the organisation, investment staff have also been rotated into different asset classes.

The head of the Melbourne-based fund has also put in place so-called “fire-drill” capabilities to prepare for unexpected market events “You can’t predict what they will be exactly but you need to be ready when they happen,” she said.



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