TCorp’s Stewart Brentnall: Ignore peers and focus long term

Sally Rose

By

19/10/2017

TCorp’s Stewart Brentnall says the shift towards a whole-of-portfolio approach has been the most important change to fiduciary best practice in his career.

Brentnall, who is the chief investment officer of the NSW Government’s Treasury Corporation, shared his views ahead of speaking at Investment Magazine’s upcoming Fiduciary Investors Symposium, to be held in Healesville, Victoria, November 13-15, 2017.

The opening session of the symposium will be a fireside chat with three superannuation fund CIOs speaking candidly about their investment outlook, asset allocation and operational challenges.

Participating in the conversation alongside Brentnall will be Media Super chief executive and CIO Graeme Russell and IOOF CIO Daniel Farmer.

Together, their funds represent a total of $210 billion in assets under management. Each of the CIOs operates under different investment structure mandates, which influence their philosophies and outlooks and the challenges they face in acting as fiduciaries.

Here, Brentnall tackles three quick questions on those themes.

Investment Magazine: How would you sum up your investment philosophy?

Stewart Brentnall: TCorp manages $90 billion worth of portfolios for clients with non-standard needs and genuine long-term horizons. Our philosophy is grounded in this. We have a very long-term focus and seek to build portfolios capturing many diverse opportunities across liquid and illiquid assets, constructed sensibly, and in clear agreement with our clients, to deliver their stated needs.

We do not give regard to peer portfolios, from a risk perspective. We employ external and internal strategies, the latter only where we can deliver a better client outcome by leveraging a comparative advantage we hold over other providers.

How has your approach to investing changed since you took on your first fiduciary role?

 I started investing assets almost 30 years ago. At that time, and for a decent proportion of the time since, asset management focused on a ‘specialist’ approach – putting many different skilled components together. Today, we take a ‘whole-of-portfolio’ approach, recognising the costs of implementation.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing you as a fiduciary today?

Complexity and short-termism. If managers accepted that most of their clients had a multi-decade investment horizon ahead of them, portfolios would be a whole lot simpler than they are and exhibit a much lower rate of turnover.

Visit the Fiduciary Investors Symposium event website for more information or to register your interest in attending the event, to be held in Healesville, Victoria, November 13-15, 2017.