New Zealand Super Fund senior investment strategist Sue Brake has left the NZ$31.6 (AU$29.5) billion sovereign wealth fund to join Willis Towers Watson as a senior investment consultant.
Brake is bucking a trend that has seen consultants, such as Leigh Gavin and Robb Hogg, move to in-house roles with institutional investors over the past two years reflecting the trend for more super funds to increase their internal capacities.
Director of investments for Willis Towers Watson in Australia, Martin Goss said Brake has specialist experience in organisational design and governance, strategy and portfolio construction. Brake has also worked as an external expert to the International Monetary Fund, advising nations on the establishment and the management of sovereign wealth funds.
Brake told Investment Magazine she was looking forward to applying what she has learnt in the sovereign wealth world to the more constrained world of superannuation.
“There is work to be done in terms of alternative ways of thinking about governance. It’s a very difficult issue to raise with people, and speaking as someone who has come from management, we all think we’re pretty good, so it’s hard to self-asses in that area,” Brake said.
She added there should be a strong light shone on that issue in terms of thinking “really truly and hard” about if the governance model was right.
“The basic rule for governance is making sure the right people are making the right parts of the decision,” Brake said, but qualified that the industry was already fairly cognisant of the issues it needed to confront.
She also highlighted that sovereign wealth funds were further advanced with insourcing than many super funds, and it was worthwhile examining how they overcame governance challenges.
In a statement, Willis Towers Watson describe Brake as being instrumental in the setting up of NZ Super, and establishing its in-house currency and derivatives capabilities. Previously she held senior financial market roles in Australia and New Zealand, including head of capital markets for National Australia Bank, and head of the capital and risk management for Bank of New Zealand Wholesale.
Brake commenced her new role on November 17.
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