AustralianSuper exec revealed as highest-paid in industry

20 February 2024
| By Rhea Nath |
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AustralianSuper’s chief investment officer (CIO) and deputy chief executive (CEO) Mark Delaney has topped the list of Australia’s highest-paid industry superannuation executives, according to Yellow Folder Research’s latest Executive Index.

Compiled using data from the latest round of financial reporting, with remuneration captured for the year to 30 June 2023, the index found Delaney received $2 million in compensation.

He was the only executive to cross the $2 million mark.

He was followed by UniSuper CIO John Pearce ($1.77 million) and Aware Super CIO Damian Graham ($1.59 million), with the top three remaining unchanged from the previous financial year.

Meanwhile, Hostplus CEO David Elia and AustralianSuper CEO Paul Schroder were the highest-paid chief executives, receiving $1.56 million and $1.50 million, respectively, in the fourth and fifth spots.

The rest of the top 10 highest-paid executives comprised of the following:

  • Aware Super CEO Deanne Stewart ($1.47 million).
  • Hostplus CIO Sam Sicilia ($1.29 million).
  • UniSuper CEO Peter Chun ($1.26 million).
  • Cbus CEO Kristian Fok ($1.21 million).
  • HESTA CEO Debby Blakey ($1.20 million).

Stewart and Blakey were the only female executives to break the top 10. 

The index also noted that fund size played a “significant role” in driving pay, but it was not one for one.

Ian Patrick, who is CIO of Australia’s second-largest fund Australian Retirement Trust received $1.2 million and appeared in the 11th position. However, Yellow Folder Research suggested, this could be contingent on the fact the fund was only formed in early 2022, following the merger of Sunsuper and QSuper. 

The executives to appear among the top 25 who did not hold a CEO or CIO role were primarily from Australia’s largest super fund, $300 billion fund AustralianSuper. This included chief operating officer Peter Curtis ($1.04 million); chief member officer Rose Kerlin ($840,000); chief risk officer Andrew Mantello ($820,000); and chief retirement officer Shawn Blackmore ($780,000).

Looking at the 25 highest-paid super executives, they were paid $28.5 million in total for the 2023 financial year, coming to an average of some $1.1 million each.

Variable remuneration, or incentive-driven pay, accounted for just over 20 per cent ($6.4 million) of the total paid to the 25 individuals. Interestingly, the proportion earned by each person varied dramatically, ranging from 0 per cent to 53.7 per cent of total remuneration (as seen with UniSuper’s CIO John Pearce).

Variable remuneration was also weighted towards the short term. The index highlighted 19 of the 25 earned some sort of short-term incentive for the financial year and just five individuals – four of whom worked for Aware Super – were paid a long-term incentive.

Yellow Folder Research’s managing director Julian Doherty said the index showcased the remuneration of Australia’s key executives whose positions require them to make decisions that affect the retirement savings of all Australians.

“Our data adds to the debate around whether this level of remuneration is fair, whether the financial year 2023 increases are justified and whether total pay is appropriately balanced towards variable pay,” Doherty said.

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