Goldman ‘Newco’ hires inaugural COO from VFMC

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The soon-to-be-renamed former Goldman Sachs Asset Management Australian equities and bonds business has recruited a senior investment operations executive from VFMC as its new chief operating officer.

Brett Davidson left VFMC after 10 years there as chief operating officer (COO) to join the Goldman Sachs Asset Management team in Melbourne last week. The ex-Goldmans team is scheduled to complete its management buyout by the end of December.

Prior to VFMC, which is the multi-manager organisation for several big Victorian Government funds, Davidson spent about 20 years at Merrill Lynch and Merrill Lynch Asset Management in Australia and in Europe, including the role of CFO for Australia and New Zealand for the capital markets business.

Davidson said last week that he had had a “fantastic” 10 years at VFMC and was proud of what the organisation had achieved in that time. “But opportunities like [the new-start Goldmans investment business]don’t come along every day. I’m very excited to be part of it.”

The role of COO has gained in prominence among big super funds and fund managers in recent years. The role, for instance, now has its own annual award, organised by Melbourne mortgage lender and credit fund manager La Trobe Financial.

Davidson says that the precise role tends to vary from organisation to organisation, depending on the activities with which each is involved. “It was a very broad role at VFMC when I started,” he says. “But over time you peel off some of the functions… The role here will be to oversee the investment support functions as well as the client-facing services and distribution.”

During his time at VFMC the organisation insourced about 30 per cent of its total investments across a range of asset classes.

Davidson said he wanted, in his new role, to free up Dion Hershan, the inaugural CEO and head of equities, to focus on “running the money”.

The new manager, which is expected to be named in the next couple of weeks, will start with about $8 billion of assets under management. It has an agreement with Goldman Sachs to use its existing systems into next year. Davidson did not envisage any significant changes to service provider relationships in the short term.

The buyout has been backed by private equity firm TA Associates, which has a track record in funds management. TA Associates is the owner of Russell Investments, following its sale by the London Stock Exchange Group.

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