Julie Lander has been at the helm of CareSuper for over 20 years, overseeing its growth to 220,000 members and $20 billion of assets under management. In that time, the superfund industry has weathered much regulatory and economic change to cement its vital position in the financial wellbeing of the Australian public.
“What I’m proud of is building an organisation and its capability to rise to the increasing challenges including legislative change, the competitive environment and members’ expectations, as well as adapting to things you never dreamt of 20 years ago,” she said in an interview with Investment Magazine on the back of winning the 2022 FEAL Fund Executive of the Year award. “As a fund, I’m very proud of our investment record.”
Another big change she has seen is the shift in mindset of members in terms of engagement. “I think people are much more engaged with their super, even if they are passively engaged,” she said. “Twenty years ago, members were hardly interested in their super at all. Now, they’re interested in how it is actually invested. What difference is my super making?”
As an industry fund, CareSuper was established to provide retirement outcomes for workers in the administrative sector and similar occupations across all industries.” So, there’s not a natural sector tribe and therefore we had to very purposefully build a brand and be out there to compete,” she said.
The industry has seen a lot of consolidation within the sector with smaller funds merging to provide more scale to better compete with their larger competitors such as Tasplan and MTAA Super merging in April to form the $26 billion Spirit Super. Similarly, CareSuper is also considering merger options said Lander. “We are open to mergers, absolutely. We believe that achieving more scale is good.”
However, she believes that smaller to medium sized funds can differentiate themselves from bigger funds and those with a specific member base. “There’s absolutely a place for smaller to medium sized funds to offer something different,” she said.
“We can invest differently; we can service more intimately and those are the sorts of characteristics we really want to maintain at CareSuper.”
Lander was awarded the 2022 Fund Executive of the Year at Fund Executive Association’s gala dinner in Melbourne last week for her outstanding contribution to the industry.
The award citation highlighted her leadership during the pandemic and recent period of legislative change as well as her commitment to supporting the industry’s reputation and the growth of CareSuper.
The award comes with a $25,000 scholarship sponsored by T.Rowe Price for the second time. “The scholarship is an opportunity to align with a prominent industry body who works with senior executives in the industry to further develop and retain top talent, ultimately delivering better outcomes for members,” said Darren Hall, T.Rowe Price’s head of distribution Australia and New Zealand.
Lander is understandably appreciative to be lauded by her peers. “It is an honour and humbling to be recognised. I work in an industry where so many people have similar commitment to purpose, but it’s nice to have industry recognition,” she said.