Aware’s Webb shares unlisted asset experience with London execs

14 November 2023
| By Laura Dew |
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Aware Super’s Damien Webb has met with the lord mayor of the City of London in the United Kingdom as the fund opens its first international office.

Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons met with Webb as part of a lunch for key stakeholders across the pension industry to discuss the voluntary Mansion House Compact. 

This was signed by the UK’s largest defined contribution pension providers in July 2023. The nine founding signatories include Mercer, Aviva, Legal & General and M&G.

The Compact intends to show firms’ intention to take meaningful action to achieve better outcomes by facilitating access to higher returns that can be achieved by investing at least 5 per cent of assets in unlisted equities by 2030.

Currently, only around 9 per cent of UK pension funds are invested in alternative assets compared to 23 per cent in other global markets.

It is understood chief investment officer Webb gave a presentation on the fund’s allocations to private equity.

The $160 billion fund opened its first international office in London earlier this year and the fund said it will initially focus on private equity, property and infrastructure assets.

Aware Super currently holds multiple private equity allocations including climate agritech company Rumin8, telehealth platform Halodoc, technology venture capital fund Blackbird Ventures and healthcare fund Global Health Opportunities Capital.

This is part of its target to achieve $250 billion by 2025 with 30–40 staff in the London office.

Speaking to Super Review in August, Webb said: “We’ve gradually increased our exposure to unlisted assets over the past 10 years or so as we’ve grown into one of Australia’s biggest industry super funds, actively targeting the sectors we believe are best placed to outperform in the longer term.

“As we keep growing, we expect to continue modestly increasing our exposure to unlisted assets to help in delivering strong long-term returns for our 1.1 million members, with a focus across property, infrastructure, private equity and credit over the next few years.”

The Mansion House Compact stated: “Consistent with the supporting actions of government and acting in the best interests of our savers, founding signatories commit: 

  • To increase the proportion of UK pension and other relevant assets, including DC default funds, invested in unlisted equities.
  • To the objective to allocate at least 5 per cent of DC default funds to unlisted equities by 2030 in a way that is consistent with the requirement to act in the best interests of our savers.”

While it is a non-legally binding initiative, the nine signatories are expected to have taken meaningful action in the first 12 months.

Aware Super was a winner at the recent Super Review Super Fund of the Year awards in the category of Retirement Offering of the Year and Lifetime Returns. 

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