NZ Super Fund appoints Stephen Gilmore as CIO

The new hire joins after nine years at Australia’s Future Fund, as the New Zealand vehicle targets expansion Down Under.

NZ Super Fund has appointed Stephen Gilmore as its new chief investment officer.

Gilmore replaces acting CIO Mark Fennell, who will resume his role as general manager, portfolio completion. The CIO role was vacated earlier this year when previous incumbent Matt Whineray was promoted to chief executive.

Gilmore was most recently at Australia’s Future Fund, which he joined in 2009, becoming head of strategy in 2010 and chief investment strategist in 2014, before leaving in April this year.

After his departure, Future Fund changed its organisational structure, with Raphael Arndt taking on Gilmore’s responsibilities in his role as chief investment officer and Wendy Norris appointed as deputy CIO. It then reorganised its investment team by asset class in June, with James Fraser-Smith becoming head of unlisted infrastructure and timberland.

Gilmore will join NZ Super in February 2019 and will lead a 45-strong team of investment professionals, the fund said in a statement.

He will be responsible for the appointment and monitoring of the NZ Super Fund’s external investment managers, as well as New Zealand and international direct investment, and will also oversee responsible investment. He will also oversee asset allocation, including macroeconomic strategy.

Before his role at the Future Fund, he worked in senior strategy roles in London and Hong Kong with AIG Financial Products and Morgan Stanley. He has held roles with both the International Monetary Fund and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

In a statement, Gilmore said: “I am a great admirer of the NZ Super Fund’s strong investment performance and culture. After many years abroad, I am looking forward to the opportunity to return to New Zealand and make a contribution to the fund’s ongoing success.”

NZ Super Fund told sister publication Agri Investor in October it was considering making its first investments in US agriculture as well as expanding its Australian ag footprint. It specifically cited timber investments as a strong contributor to its overall return of 12.43 percent in the year to June 30.

Its assets totalled NZ$39.37 billion at June 30. Timber investments made up around 6 percent of the total and infrastructure stood at 2 percent.

The 12-month return beat its passive reference portfolio market benchmark by 2.02 percent (worth approximately NZ$700 million) and it exceeded the average return on treasury bills, its other benchmark, by 10.71 percent (worth NZ$3.7 billion).

The fund’s actual return since inception in September 2003 has been 10.37 percent per year, compared with 8.88 percent in the reference portfolio and 4.06 percent from treasury bills.

New Zealand’s government contributed NZ$500 million to the fund in FY18 following an eight-year suspension to contributions.