Super veterans launch new asset manager

27 June 2023
| By Rhea Nath |
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A new player, Playfair Asset Management, has been officially launched with a central focus on supporting superannuation funds.

Its senior leadership includes four industry stalwarts, each bringing more than 20 years of experience in investments and financial markets.

Simon Hudson, former head of equities at UniSuper for over a decade, would be joint chief investment officer alongside Mark Himpoo, former senior manager at the super fund who had helped manage its $4 billion Australian equities portfolio for nine years.

After UniSuper, both moved over to Jarden Australia where they were co-heads of the Jarden Superannuation Advisory Group. Himpoo joined in August 2021 followed by Hudson in September 2022. 

Dane FitzGibbon was named Playfair chief executive, having previously spent 13 years at UBS in Australia and Asia across various roles, including co-head of capital markets.

Playfair’s head of portfolio construction and risk would be Stephen Ross, who was most recently responsible for multi-asset portfolio construction and risk management at Macquarie Wealth as head of asset allocation.

According to CIO Hudson, part of the inspiration behind Playfair was a recognition that Australian super funds are facing the most competitive environment and intense scrutiny in their history, probably more so than most investment managers in the country.

“The simple reason we understand this is because we know exactly what it’s like to work in a superannuation fund investment team, what it’s like to present to the investment committee, the board, and to the members — it’s their life savings, and it’s a great honour and responsibility to help manage their retirement savings,” Hudson told Super Review. 

“So, we’ve built Playfair with a central focus on supporting Australian superannuation funds as they face these challenges, enhance their capabilities, improve their efficiencies and deliver the appropriate risk/return expectations for their members — in increasingly tough markets.”

He added that the leadership team hold a relatively unique set of skills and experience, having worked on both sides of the fence in traditional buy-side and super investments. 

“We know and understand that super funds are highly complex and need genuine partners as opposed to managers just selling them a product,” he added. 

The Playfair team would also include two senior portfolio managers, to be announced in due course, with further resourcing to support growth as required. 

The newly launched asset manager would be independent and founder-owned, Hudson explained. 

“Our combined management and advice offering is a bit different, but most importantly, our team understands what alignment really means to super funds and the multiple challenges they face. Our experience and skills set are probably wider than most, particularly for a relatively small organisation,” he told Super Review.

Among its other capabilities, Playfair’s offering would include domestic and international portfolio management, external investment manager selection, asset allocation, sector research analysis, capital markets/block execution, and super fund corporate and stakeholder ESG engagement at the highest level with leading companies.

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