Close to 10 industry super funds paid its CEOs over $1 million in remuneration according to information in their annual reports.

Included in this figure is AustralianSuper’s outgoing chief Ian Silk and his replacement Paul Schroder. All figures have been rounded up to two decimal places.

Hostplus’s chief David Elia won the top gong as the highest paid industry super fund executive in Australia for the year ending June 2022, pocketing $1.33 million, up from the $1.2 million earned the year before. With one of the youngest member bases, Hostplus has 1.6 million members and $82.5 billion of assets under management.

AusSuper’s Ian Silk pulled in $1.27 million, up around 9.5 per cent from his $1.12 million REM package the year before. Silk stepped down in October 2021 after close to 30 years at the fund and its predecessor the Australian Retirement Fund. During his lengthy tenure, he witnessed the growth of the industry super fund sector from a cottage industry to managing close to $1 trillion of assets within the $3.4 trillion pension pool.

Outgoing Cbus chief Justin Arter earned $1.2 million in the year ending June 2022, making him the third highest paid among his peers according to public filings.

Chief executive officer compensation

Exclusive club

Spirit Super’s Leeanne Turner joined this exclusive club with a salary of $1.17 million, making her one of two women among her male peers to hit the seven-figure mark in 2022. The $25 billion fund has around 331,000 members as of April 2022 and was the result of a merger between MTAA Super and Tasplan. While Silk’s successor at AusSuper Paul Schroder earned $1.14 million, placing him in sixth position, followed by Aware Super’s chief Deanne Stewart at $1.12 million.

Australian Retirement Trust’s Bernard Reilly, chief executive of Australia’s second largest industry super fund in terms of AUM with $240 billion currently, brought home $1.07 million in 2022. This was a significant pay rise compared to the $972,000-plus he earned in 2021 running the smaller Sunsuper before it merged with QSuper to create the behemoth ART.

Among the Federal government or state super funds, only the Future Fund’s Raphael Arndt took home a seven-figure pay packet, earning $1.15 million.

‘Bigger is better’ mantra

The super fund sector has undergone rapid consolidation in the last years, at a time of increased public scrutiny and regulatory oversight.

One of the key issues for chief executives and their leadership teams undergoing or considering a merger is how to develop a cohesive and authentic culture across the enlarged organisation.

“Anytime you double your team; anytime you add another entity to your organisational structure you’re introducing a factor that has to be deliberately designed otherwise, you effectively end up with multiple microcultures within one organisation,” Workforce Consulting Leader for the Mercer Pacific region’s Cynthia Cottrell tells Investment Magazine.

However research authored by Scott Lawrence and Geoff Warren and published by The Conexus Institute, concluded the industry should abandon the fixation on “size is good” and focus on whether a fund has an effective operating model to succeed at scale.

“Large fund size has both advantages and disadvantages and gives rise to some significant challenges. It is not an automatic win,” they said in a recent article.

“What matters is whether funds can execute effectively on their investment strategies and provision of services to members, whatever their size.”

This data was compiled based on published reports only by Conexus Financial researchers. All care was taken in its collation. Superannuation, short term and long term incentives are included in the total reported rem dataset. Accrued annual or long service are not included, nor are non-monetary benefits. If total rem is not reported then it’s calculated from other monetary elements.

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