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Richard Brandweiner to leave First State Super

Amanda White




Richard Brandweiner will leave First State Super after leading its investment team as chief investment officer since 2013.

Damian Graham, chief investment officer of the recently acquired StatePlus, will become acting chief investment officer, and the fund will undertake an industry-wide search for a permanent replacement.

Brandweiner will join the global impact investment firm, Leapfrog Investments as a partner in January 2017 where he will be responsible for developing new products with the adequate robustness for institutional investors.

First State Super has taken a leadership role in impact investing, and Brandweiner personally has been involved in the fund’s submissions to government on social and affordable housing.

Chief executive of First State Super, Michael Dwyer, said Brandweiner had made an outstanding contribution to the fund.

“He has brought focus for us on universal ownership and embedded partnerships,” he said.

“We regard Richard so highly and want to keep a relationship with him and collaborate where appropriate.”

Brandweiner has been credited with transforming First State Super’s investments, from an asset allocation, portfolio construction and internal management perspective.

He has overseen the building out of a highly skilled team; added diversification to the portfolio via a significant private assets allocation; introduced new systems for risk management, analysis and decision making and a new operating system; and the move to internal investment management.

Brandweiner said for more than three years, the purpose has been to reposition First State Super as a large asset owner in its own right, and build the platform necessary to improve outcomes for members.

“First State Super is an extraordinary organisation,” he said.

The fund’s roadmap to $70 billion has been focused on restructuring relationships with intermediaries, developing a targeted investment capability and improving the diversification of the portfolio to focus on illiquid alternatives.

“The board is fully behind this roadmap, and by the end of the year we will be able to invest directly in shares; will have made direct investments in infrastructure; all our processes will be renewed and we will have our new custodian.”

Passion for impact investment

Brandweiner has a passion for impact investment, but he said he has recognised that institutional investors want to invest in impact, but haven’t had access to institutional grade strategies.

“It’s hard to develop that from within the system, you have to go out and create them. I think I can make a bigger difference to more people by doing this,” he said.

“It would have been easy for us at First State to carve out a part of the portfolio and invest in impact to get the industry started, but to make a big difference it needs to make sense for all institutional investors to be able to do it.”

Graham will join First State Super on August 22, and Brandweiner will continue with the fund as executive investment consultant until December, to ensure a smooth transition.

“It’s exciting and there is lots to do,” Graham said. “There is a sensible and well-articulated strategy at First State that focuses on the relevant priorities for a large asset owner. My focus will be on strategy and people and continue to push along that journey.”

Brandweiner is a member of the Australian Advisory Board for the International Social Impact Investment Taskforce. He was named the chief investment officer of the year at the 2016 Conexus Financial Superannuation Awards.