More change at NSW’s local government fund

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David Smith’s replacement as chief executive at Local Government Super (LGS) – the NSW local government fund – was confirmed last week. The new boss is Phil Stockwell, who has replaced interim chief executive Donna Heffernan, who had replaced Peter Lambert, who had been chief executive of the fund for nearly 10 years.

Lambert, the fund secretary for four years before he became chief executive from 2007 until 2017, is now a regional manager for NSW and the ACT for Queensland-based BUSSQ Super. Donna Heffernan resumes her previous role as deputy chief executive and company secretary at the fund following Stockwell’s arrival.

Smith, from a retail funds management background, was chief executive of LGS from September 2017 until his resignation earlier this year. The rotation at the top is not a good look.

Stockwell returned from a five-year stint in Singapore this year, where he held senior roles at Eastspring Investments, most recently as chief operating officer. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pendal Group in Sydney.

Kyle Loades, LGS chair, said in a prepared statement last week: “Phil’s strategy, leadership and operational experience in financial services organisations in times of change is a good fit for LGS and our members. The LGS board, in making this pivotal appointment, was focussed on securing a candidate who could lead the fund in key areas. These include maintaining the track record of long-term strong member retirement outcomes and investment returns, remaining at the forefront of sustainable investing, and leading positive change to evolve member service and value.”

The $12 billion fund, with about 90,000 members, has provided investment returns averaging 7.65 per cent for the past five years to September 2019, putting it around mid-range among profit-for-member funds.

In a statement in January this year, the fund’s board said it had a strategic goal of achieving a target of $15 billion in funds under management by 2021, although no explanation as to why that should be a target was provided. Stockwell’s main task in the immediate future is likely to be to find a merger partner for the fund.

– G.B.

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