The board of the Fund Executives Association Ltd has taken the difficult decision to suspend the sponsorship relationship the body has had with AMP Capital for the coveted ‘Fund Executive of the Year’ award, which will this year be funded by the association itself.
AMP Capital has sponsored the award since its inception in 2001, only two years after the organisation was founded. It currently comes with prize money of $25,000 to be spent on an educational course or other similar endeavour of the winner’s choice. Previous award winners represent a who’s who of senior super fund executives. Last year’s, which marked the 20th anniversary of FEAL, was Chris Davies, the chief executive of Telstra Super.
The FEAL directors, led by chair Jane Perry, many of whom are also former ‘Fund Executive of the Year’ award winners, decided against looking for another sponsor for this year’s event. Rather, they decided to reassess the sponsorship next year when the results of AMP’s commitment to cultural reform within the wider group has been given sufficient time to prove itself. AMP’s dramas this year, following its handling of a well-publicised harassment case, has already resulted in some senior resignations from the group, for various reasons, including that of David Murray, the chair.
In a statement, Jane Perry said: “The FEAL ‘Fund Executive of the Year’ award recognises and rewards the work of outstanding leaders in superannuation. It recognises executives who are leadership role models. In considering AMP Capital’s partnership in the delivery of this award, the FEAL board reflected on our purpose and how we deliver value for members. We considered members’ views about their expectations of our partners.
“With those things in mind it made sense to advise AMP Capital that in 2020 we would fund the award from our own reserves. The FEAL board will consider sponsorship of the award again in 2021 alongside the broader AMP Group’s recently announced actions to accelerate AMP’s cultural transformation including actions on inclusion and diversity. FEAL acknowledges AMP Capital’s long-standing support for the professional development of fund executives through its sponsorship of the ‘Fund Executive of the Year’ award.”
The award is normally presented at the members’ dinner the evening prior to the national conference in August. However, the dinner was postponed because of COVID restrictions and will now take place on November 18 in a mix of virtual and actual dinners. Nominations opened last week (October 9) and close on November 6.
The presentation coincides with the announcement of the winner of the ‘Michael Dwyer Leadership Award’, established last year after the retirement of Michael Dwyer from the industry. He was the founding chair of FEAL and long-time chief executive of Aware Super (formerly First State Super). The scholarship, sponsored by Pendal, allows the winner to attend the annual ‘Colloquium’ of the Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership, which was set up by the Myer Foundation to foster leadership skills among senior executives across a range of industries. The inaugural winner last year was Norlena Brouwer, the group executive, risk and compliance, at Hostplus.
Richard Brandweiner, the chief executive of Pendal Australia and former CIO of First State Super, attended the Colloquium at Michael Dwyer’s suggestion. Like other alumni, he speaks highly of the intensive six-day course, which takes place only once a year and is limited to 20 participants.
With the dinner itself on November 18, a traditional dinner will be held in Sydney but a virtual one only in Melbourne, due to COVID. In other states, small dinners will be hosted by Robyn Petrou, chief executive of Energy Super, in Brisbane, and Jo Townsend, chief executive of Funds SA, in Adelaide, in accordance with local regulations. Privately organised dinners will possibly be held in Melbourne if restrictions are eased in time. The web experience will be open to all members.