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‘Be proactive’: AustralianSuper calls on staff to help attract talent

The country’s largest super fund, AustralianSuper, is planning to rapidly expand its in-house investment team, urging staff to recruit former colleagues as the industry funds struggle to offer competitive wages.

AustralianSuper’s chief investment officer Mark Delaney announced plans to increase its investment team from 200 to 300 in the next three years, as the fund presses ahead with its strategy to cut costs by dumping external managers.

Industry super funds have historically offered lower wages than bank-owned super funds, making it more difficult to attract and retain talent from the highly remunerated funds management sector.

AustralianSuper chief investment officer said the fund’s performance was “good without being fantastic”.

AustralianSuper chief investment officer said the fund’s performance was “good without being fantastic”.Credit:Janie Barrett

In a leaked recording of an all-staff webinar, obtained by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Delaney called on staff to “dig out” personal networks for employee referrals.

“We’re going to be expanding the department quite materially over the next three years, by at least 50 per cent,” Mr Delaney said. “We’ve got such big capabilities to build out, there’s going to be heaps of opportunities.

“So use your networks, you’ll know people you’ve come across who you’ve worked with who are really talented who may just want to come to work with AustralianSuper. And be proactive about it.”

Over the course of last financial year, the fund dropped four external mandates and boosted its internal funds under management by $11 billion to $87 billion, nearly half the total assets, according to annual reports.

The recruitment drive has caused tensions within AustralianSuper over how staff are remunerated, with some sections of the investment team awarded bonuses while others are not.

One staff member, who could not be named because they are not authorised to speak to the media, said bonuses were only awarded to staff whose performance could be measured by financial returns, but often this required less work. “If you look at some of the front office people, they don’t necessarily need to be performing, they just need to be doing their job,” the staff member said.

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