For super funds and their advisers

… Kate Farrar on the ‘boutique at scale’ strategy

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Kate Farrar, the chief executive-elect for the combined LGIAsuper and Energy Super, says the funds are looking to build something that’s a bit different – “a boutique at scale”.

“Both funds had the same strategy going into this,” she said after her role was announced last week (March 8), to take effect on July 1 when the funds embark on their journey together. They will retain their own identities and brands under the arrangement, which is a recent trend with fund mergers.

She said: “We want to retain the very valuable relationships we have with members, particularly in the workplaces… And we want to pull these together with technology. We did a side-by-side comparison of our service models and they are very similar and also quite different from a lot of other funds. We want to protect our relationship with our members.”

Both funds have relatively high average member balances who are being supported by advice services and contact centres. The memberships are both pan Queensland, with significant presences in regional centres.

Farrar said she had been very lucky to have the team of people with whom she’d worked for the past three years and she was looking forward to building another team from the merger. “A CEO looks to build a great and diverse team who have the same values,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in.”

Kate Farrar

Prior to joining LGIAsuper as CEO in April 2018, spent nearly two years at McKinsey & Co and before that was the CEO of QEnergy. She had also spent previously about eight years at Ergon Energy in Brisbane. She is yet to announce the senior members of her team, including the heads of investments, member administration and member engagement.

The two funds both use JANA Investment Advisers as asset consultant, with Energy having replaced previous consultant Willis Towers Watson in 2019.

They have different outsourced member admin providers, however. Energy uses Link Group, while LGIA uses Tech Mahindra. LGIA previously administered the membership itself using Bravura software and in 2017 acquired a strategic stake in the listed Bravura Solutions. This was sold the following year for a profit of $18.2 million.

Robyn Petrou, who has been chief executive of Energy Super for just over 12 years, will continue with the fund during the amalgamation phase.

Robin Petrou

Richard Flanagan, Energy’s chair, paid tribute to Petrou and her contribution to the fund’s growth and development. He said: “Robyn has done an outstanding job leading Energy Super during more than a decade of unparalleled industry and regulatory change and delivered great outcomes for our members. Her contribution to the fund will continue through the planned transition period, and both she and Kate are committed to working together to ensure this merger is a success for our people and our members.

“With Kate leading the next stage of our growth, we will see a continued focus on operational excellence, personal service and an ongoing commitment to improving the lives of our members in retirement.”

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