This year, Fund Executives Association Ltd (FEAL) celebrates its 15th anniversary as an organisation committed solely to the professional development of fund executives. At its inception, a small group of CEOs got together, recognising the need for leaders in the already rapidly developing superannuation industry to be the best they possibly could be.
This objective is as true for FEAL now as it was then. Today our organisation has a membership of more than 500 including roles such as the chief executive officer, chief information officer, head of human resources, head of marketing, and chief risk officer in almost all the not-for-profit funds in Australia.
We run FEAL with a very small and effective secretariat and receive wonderful support from our membership, which regularly participates in the planning and delivery of our events.
We confirmed last year, when we revised our constitution, that FEAL will never participate in policy development, and neither will it undertake any lobbying. Other organisations do that very well indeed and the industry does not need any further players in the area.
On the other hand, FEAL plays a uniquely significant role in the education and development of current and future fund executives. Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors we have been able to establish:
- An organisation-focused masters program at the Melbourne Business School (MBS), from which more than 30 people have graduated and taken these learnings forward to enhance their careers and funds
- Monthly networking and briefings events on issues challenging our members, such as cyber crime and risk management
- A mentoring initiative, where senior industry players are mentoring emerging leaders
- An annual conference and a forum that are focused on issues executives are currently grappling with, and finding inspiration from speakers such as Tim Costello, the CEO of World Vision; and New South Wales police commissioner Andrew Scipione
- A number of valuable scholarships including ones to the London School of Economics, the Australian Institute of Company Directors, CIE (Centre for Investor Education) and the Melbourne Business School
- Our most prestigious award is the Fund Executive of the Year, awarded each August with the generous long-term support of AMP Capital. This $20,000 award has enabled the industry to recognise the outstanding achievement of an executive and has enabled the winner to travel to world-leading academic institutions such as the London Business School, Wharton School of Business, Stamford Graduate School of Business Executive Education and Harvard Business School. They have each returned inspired and enlightened, and have increased their contribution to the industry and their fund as a result.
It has been very exciting to know that our members find the activities we have and the networking they provide are valued most by those who get engaged. Our generous sponsors find FEAL a very special partnership, as we offer them sole exposure at the events they sponsor and those offering scholarships have recognised the deep impact their support can have on individuals and the industry.
In the future I expect to see the industry develop into a smaller number of large funds offering executives an even more demanding, yet rewarding, career. FEAL will continue to find new ways to effectively support these fund executives and their staff. We have the privilege of working in one of the country’s most influential industries. Our responsibilities are considerable, as we seek to provide fund members with a dignified retirement. FEAL will be there to help inspire the leaders of tomorrow.
Neil Cochrane is the outgoing chair at FEAL, and chair at First State Super.