Aware Super overhauls executive team, expands COO role

7 February 2024
| By Jessica Penny |
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Aware Super is set to undergo an executive restructure that will see the introduction of an expanded chief operating officer (COO) role into its group executive and a closer integration of the fund’s financial advice services into its broader suite of financial education and guidance.

As part of the changes, effective from 2 April, Sally Collins will join Aware Super in the expanded COO role on 15 April.

Ms Collins joins the fund after a two-year stint as chief financial officer at HESTA. Before this, she held both customer-facing and operations executive roles at AXA, CBA, and NAB.

She was also chief operating officer of the Victorian Funds Management Corporation (VFMC) for almost five years.

In her new capacity, Collins will lead the fund’s technology and data governance; data strategy; investment operations; strategy; planning and delivery; transformation; and finance, tax, and procurement teams.

According to Aware, this will see enterprise-supporting functions aligned to enable the fund to deliver its transformation at pace and support its operating model.

All other changes as part of the executive restructure will occur internally, with incumbent COO Jo Brennan taking on the newly created role of group executive, member engagement and advice.

In this new capacity, Brennan will focus on optimising the fund’s investment in digital technology and financial advice, ensuring maximum alignment between the fund’s service experience and members’ needs.

Moreover, current group executive, member growth Steve Travis will retain his role with significantly expanded scope, taking on leadership of the acquisition, connect and grow, and retire teams.

Aware clarified that the corporate development team, responsible for fund mergers, will also report to Travis.

Finally, chief of staff and group executive for Victoria Katrina McPhee will lead a newly created communications, public affairs, and advocacy team.

McPhee will retain her current chief of staff responsibilities, in addition to taking on the role of group executive, communications and advocacy.

The changes came after the fund announced its completion of the last major tranche of its multi-year digital transformation program, a move that Aware said positions it for growth and innovation for better member outcomes.

Commenting on the executive restructure, Aware chief executive Deanne Stewart said the restructure would drive greater alignment between the organisation’s internal structures and the needs of members.

“With millions of Australians either already living in retirement, or rapidly approaching it, superannuation funds need to better orient themselves towards supporting members in this important life stage,” Stewart said.

“What Australians need as they prepare to live their best possible retirement is at the heart of our organisation’s strategy, and will now be reflected in our organisation’s structure as well. This will ensure we’re putting our best teams to work on solving the biggest challenges our members face, wherever they might be on their own individual journey to a dignified, comfortable retirement.

“Our members rely on us every day to deliver strong, long-term returns, competitive fees, and a seamless experience of interacting with their super on their terms – including access to appropriate financial advice, financial education and the simple help they need to do what they want to do with their super.”

CFO to depart

Aware Super also confirmed that group executive finance, strategy, and transformation and chief financial officer​ Tim Elliott announced his intention to depart from the organisation after more than 11 years.

Stewart thanked Elliott for his tenure and contributions in helping steer Aware’s organisational strategy.

“Losing great talent from an executive team is always painful, but particularly from a team as close-knit as ours became during the significant challenge of merging large funds during the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

“He leaves behind a legacy of strong financial and strategic management, which has set Aware Super up with an excellent springboard for our future.”

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