AustralianSuper on hiring spree to expand in New York, London

AustralianSuper, the nation’s biggest pension fund, is on a hiring spree to add staff in New York and London, driving the expansion of its global footprint with recruits in equities and private markets.

The $274 billion fund plans to grow its New York head count from 17 to 100 over the next two to three years and expand its London office from 70 to 200 over a similar period in the next phase of its worldwide push that started in 2015.

AustralianSuper Chief Investment Officer Mark Delaney, who will travel from Melbourne to New York next week with a group of directors and senior staff, said recruiting in the financial hub was largely focused on private markets.

Unlisted assets have held up well, says AustralianSuper CIO Mark Delaney.Credit:Janie Barrett

Growth priorities will be “private equity, private debt and infrastructure,” Delaney said in an interview, adding its biggest focus would be on mid-market private equity.

Delaney said the fund was hunting for private equity investments of up to around $500 million, either in partnership with managers or as fund allocations. “We’re not rushing to deploy capital today or tomorrow because the market’s still digesting the higher interest rates. Give it another 12 months to be much better,” he said.

Australia’s $3.4 trillion superannuation industry is increasingly looking overseas to invest as it outgrows smaller domestic capital markets. Fund assets are projected to surge to more than $9 trillion in the next two decades, fuelled by compulsory employer contributions of 10.5 [per cent of worker salaries, growing to 12 per cent within three years.

AustralianSuper’s Delaney said his firm is expanding assets by 15-20 per cent each year, with its total pot likely to top $700 billion within a few years. The additional staff would ramp up a recruitment drive for its New York office, which opened in 2021.

The firm is recruiting talented senior executives from other fund managers, Delaney said, many of whom are seeking a better work-life balance and purpose after the pandemic.

“The feedback we’ve got is that the proposition we talked about, which is investing for purpose, not having to raise capital, investing alongside the best investors in the world in a really collegiate way, is quite compelling for senior staff,” he said. “We haven’t had much trouble getting interest of senior staff.

Junior recruits

Staff earlier in their careers, however, can be harder to bring in.

“The junior ones who want to work 120 hours a week at the investment bank, I don’t think it resonates as much for them,” Delaney said. “They really want to get themselves into that production line in a conventional way.”

Still, the level of interest from potential recruits for senior posts in advertised UK-based jobs has taken him by surprise, he said.

“We’re not in the big league of the big sovereign wealth funds or whatever, but we are sort of on our way to joining that category,” Delaney said.


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