Looking to make your next move in the superannuation job market? Here’s a look at the new roles emerging or currently in hot demand.

“As a general rule, as funds become larger, they also become more complex. So, it’s not surprising that larger funds are adding new roles to manage and respond to this complexity,” observes Graeme Miller, chief investment officer at Telstra Super.

“The regulatory environment – for example, the new APRA Prudential Standard SPS530 – is placing ever-higher expectations on super funds and their governance, especially in areas such as liquidity management, stress testing and valuation, and I think the larger funds are responding to this increased oversight by adding more expertise.”

New shoes to fill

AustralianSuper is looking to fill a newly created role, a chief liquidity officer (CLO). The announcement comes at a time when large funds increase their scrutiny of liquidity risk, especially in credit, in the wake of the global banking crisis and bond market volatility while continuing to invest in unlisted assets which make their portfolios more illiquid than some other investments.

Australian Retirement Trust (ART), meanwhile, has created a new role of its own: head of investment resilience and planning.

In its recruitment advert, ART says this role includes ensuring all investment portfolios are resilient, facilitating the oversight of internal investment management processes and planning for the future of the fund’s investment capability. The person hired will also be accountable for investment risk management, investment data and modelling.

Michael Swinsburg, managing partner of executive search advisory firm Alexander Hughes, expects more of these roles to emerge but says different funds are going to organise these functions differently.

“Future planning will likely be separate to investment data, modelling and risk seen in current internal teams,” he says.

Focusing on pensions

Both Swinsburg and Miller expect to see more roles emerge dedicated to members’ retirement and their decumulation of assets.

“After all, the super system is maturing and the whole point of super is to provide retirement benefits,” says Miller.

In November last year, AustralianSuper appointed Shawn Blackmore as its first chief officer retirement, noting that it had over 900,000 members over the age of 50.

Similarly, ART announced in March this year it had created a chief of retirement role to focus on the execution of its retirement strategy and oversee all elements of its retirement offer, including product, investments, service model and advice.

Adrian Karloci, a founding director of B & K Consulting, believes other funds will follow “slowly but surely”.

Swinsburg says the retirement income officer roles will move to pull together all the aspects of investment and product design, marketing, communications and services. An example could be a chief retirement member officer.

He says these functions would normally be sitting in different teams, but the aim is to offer the pensioner a seamless experience. However, demand for this type of role will depend on the scale of membership and the funds under management moving into the retirement phase over, say, the next five years.

“Some funds may have a lower number of members moving to retirement or smaller account sizes making opting to ‘cash out’ to, say, pay off loans or update their car more likely,” says Swinsburg.

On the horizon

Looking ahead, Miller suspects that the next unconventional C-suite role will be a chief valuation officer, or similar. “As the mega funds manage more direct assets internally, they will be under pressure to ensure that governance of the valuation process is tightened,” he says.

Karloci says we may also see new roles around scaled, low-cost advice – for example, around life insurance which is expensive to buy as an individual.

Elsewhere, Swinsburg believes that government relations/community engagement roles will become increasingly important.

This could happen, he says, as super funds are being asked to invest in national infrastructure which could extend to social housing and other social assets, making them a large investor in Australians’ everyday life.

“Add in the ineffectiveness of super associations then you have a real need for super funds to do their own lobbying,” he adds.

A hot spot

Swinsburg notes that demand for people with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) skills is high and that super funds are competing globally with major corporates for talent.

He anticipates a huge shortage of ESG and what he calls “net zero” advisory skills going forward.

Likewise, in its 2023 ESG and Responsible Investment Salary Guide, Kaizen Recruitment notes that there has been a jump in demand for ESG investment professionals from its clients in funds management, superannuation, asset consulting and wealth management over the last few years.

It says traditionally lean ESG/responsible investment teams have been growing as demand increases and previously outsourced duties are shifting in-house.

Kaizen predicts that 2023 will continue to be a candidate-short market with relevant and qualified skill sets for ESG continuing to be in high demand.

A session titled ‘Roles of the future’ will be discussed at the upcoming Fiduciary Investors Symposium from 5-7 June, Blue Mountains, NSW. 

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