Hostplus’ David Elia is once again the top paid industry fund chief executive, raking in total remuneration of $1.55 million in the 2022-23 financial year. With more than 1.75 million Hostplus members, Elia was paid the equivalent of 89 cents for overseeing each member account.  

Elia’s total remuneration came in just shy of Future Fund CEO Raphael Arndt’s $1.56 million total remuneration. Having held the dual role of CIO and CEO between June 2022 and August 2023, Arndt was the only individual paid more than $1 million among sovereign wealth and government fund CEOs.

The figures were revealed in Investment Magazine’s 2024 Salary Survey. Each year, the survey compiles remuneration data from super funds and sovereign wealth funds’ annual reports and from reports lodged with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to get a glimpse into the salary trend among the sector’s top tale.

This year’s methodology takes into account executives’ cash salary, short-term incentives, deterred incentives, shares, options and rights, one-off payments, non-monetary benefits and super, where data is available. The total remuneration package reflects all the categories combined.

Table 1: 2024 CEO remuneration and fund assets

The highest-paid fund CEO was HUB24’s Andrew Alcock with $3.49 million in the past financial year, although it is worth noting that he also oversees the ASX-listed group’s advice and technology offerings alongside superannuation, and that his total remuneration included a shares, options and rights component totalling $2.25 million.

Mega-fund AustralianSuper’s Paul Schroder was paid $1.53 million in total, slightly above Netwealth’s Matt Heine (who also runs an ASX-listed investment administration business which includes an APRA-regulated super component).  

Industry fund chief executives claimed six out of the ten highest-paid spots, with Aware Super’s Deanne Stewart and HESTA’s Debby Blakey the only women on the list. Nine industry fund executives were paid more than $1 million in the past financial year. 

CSC’s Damian Hill is the lowest-paid chief executive of large funds (those with more than $50 billion assets under management), pulling in $1.03 million in total.  

On a pay-per-member basis, small industry fund CEOs’ remuneration stood out. Adrian Rutter, chief executive of the $900 million FES Super, was paid the equivalent of $80 per account. The WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services super fund only serves 2,535 members. Meanwhile, AvSuper chief executive Michael Sykes was paid $73.17 for overseeing each of the fund’s 5,614 member accounts.  

Table 2: 2024 CEO remuneration and member accounts

Source: APRA data (both tables).
Notes (both tables):

(#) Total rem derived from published remuneration reports including super, long service and leave accrual.  Excluding non-monetary benefits
(*) Only range provided, assumed mid point
(**) Rem based on Victorian Public Sector salary band, assumed mid point
* In role for less than one year
** Rem included as acting CIO from 21 June – 2 Aug 2023
*** CIO from 1 July 2022 – 30 Mar 2023. Acting CEO from 30 Mar 2023 – 12 June 2023
**** Includes termination benefits
***** Includes shares, options and rights of $2.25m
## As at FY Dec 2022
### Rem estimated based on previous CIO 2021 reported compensation
^ Rem is for role in OnePath Custodian only
^^ Rem is for role in Nulis Nominees only
^^^ Rem is for role in Perpetual Superannuation only
^^^^ Rem is for role in Fiducian Portfolio Services only
% In CEO and CIO roles
%% Based on NSW Public Service Commission remuneration framework
(~) As at June 2022

Shifting role

The role of the fund CEO is evolving as super funds themselves morph into more sophisticated and complex entities. For a very significant part of the superannuation industry’s existence, the main focus has been on accumulation, and on achieving the best risk-adjusted investment returns for embers.

But as members get older and a growing number approach retirement, funds are shifting focus – driven by member needs but equally driven by government and regulatory pressure  – to consider other issues, such as retirement income solutions and member experience.

The division of responsibility and focus between CEO and the fund chair is also shifting. CEM Benchmarking’s Mike Heale says the best and most effective relationship between a CEO and chair is one where the roles are clearly demarcated.

“Something that’s critically important is that there’s a clear divide of powers and responsibilities, and that the board governs and the management manages,” Heale says.

“The board needs to have the broad oversight over the strategy and the policies, but it needs to let management manage.”

Even so, the relationship between CEO and chair is growing closer, in the sense of it being more collaborative. Michael Swinsburg, managing partner of recruiter Alexander Hughes, says traditionally the role of the corporate chair has been more outward-looking, focused on managing external forces such as political relationships, while the CEO has been more focused on the internal execution of strategy across the organisation.

“That’s likely to change as the external pressure on super funds ramps up, so that outside pressure needs to be shared,” Swinsburg says.

“So they’re likely to both show up in Canberra in the future, such is the political interest in these mega funds.”

Swinsburg says most large super fund CEOs would be more than capable of managing complex, private-sector financial services businesses – and a number of them previously have. He says they’re often attracted to the superannuation industry by a sense of purpose and a commitment to a set of principles that can’t as easily be met in the private sector.

“A good percentage of the time, they know they can go and compete somewhere else and get paid better,” he says.

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