Australia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Loses CIO, Makes Changes to Investment Team

By Nick Hedley

Australia's sovereign wealth fund, which has A$249 billion (US$172 billion) under management as of March 31, has announced the departure of its chief investment officer, Sue Brake.

The Future Fund Management Agency said Brake, who has been in the role since December 2020, had decided to leave “for family reasons.” She was appointed acting CIO in July 2020, having joined the fund as deputy CIO, portfolio strategy, in June 2019.

Future Fund CEO Dr. Raphael Arndt said: “I want to thank Sue for her valuable contribution to the Future Fund during a time of unprecedented change in global markets and economies.

“Her leadership and work on the review of the investment strategy leave a significant and positive legacy at the Future Fund.”

Brake said: “I am looking forward to this period where I can focus on my family, and grateful that I am able to leave the team and portfolio in very good hands to do that.”

In an press release, Future Fund said it would use the opportunity to restructure its investment team “so that the function is best placed to meet the challenges of the evolving macro environment.”

“The new structure will bring focus to optimizing governance, people and technology with three deputy CIO roles reporting directly to the CIO.”

Wendy Norris will become deputy CIO, change & innovation; Ben Samild will take on the role of deputy CIO, portfolio construction; and Alicia Gregory will join the senior leadership team as deputy CIO, private markets.

Dr. Arndt will take on the additional responsibility of acting CIO until the position is permanently filled. He was CIO between 2014 and 2020.

As of March 31, Future Fund had delivered a 10-year return of 10% per annum, the fund said in an update published in May.

Peter Costello, chair of the Future Fund Board of Guardians, said at the time: “As central banks tighten monetary policy to rein in inflation, and geopolitical tensions continue to create shocks in investment markets, we have been positioning for what will be a challenging and volatile future.

“As we have been saying for some time, investors should expect lower returns than in the past over the long term.”

Dr. Arndt said the fund had been positioning its portfolio for the increasingly difficult environment, and this included greater allocations towards alternatives.

“Looking ahead, we expect returns will be harder to achieve, with ongoing fragility and disruption to global markets and economies combined with rising inflation continuing as key themes for some time to come,” he said.

“The portfolio is positioned moderately below a neutral risk setting. We are maintaining our discipline to only take on risk where the potential rewards justify it.”