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Australia Roundtable: Why Qantas Super put over 30% in alternatives

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Australia’s superannuation system, established by the Keating government in 1992, has been a monumental success in Australia. With over $1.8 trillion in total AUM it is the fourth largest pension industry in the world.

Qantas Super, represented by CIO Andrew Spence, is one of Australia’s leading corporate superannuation funds. Operating since 1939, the Super has 33,000+ members and assets of AUD 7 billion. Its Growth (Choice and default) option ranked number 1 out of 47 funds compared to peers on a risk adjusted basis for the year ending June 2014. Approximately 70% of the total investment program is now focused on alpha generating strategies and managers rather than low-cost beta.

To reduce the pension’s dependency on the equity risk premium and to implement a highly cost-effective private markets program, Qantas invested over $2.2 billion, via aligned implementation models, across unlisted infrastructure and property, hedge funds, credit and private equity to deliver attractive risk adjusted returns, net of taxes and investment expenses. Following a clear ‘value for money’ rather than pure low-cost focus. This means the pension is willing to include strategies such as hedge funds or private equity, provided they offer an attractive net risk-adjusted return.

In addition to Andrew Spence, the following Sydney-based investment professions participated at the Roundtable:

  • Craig Stanford, Head of Alternatives, Ibbotson Associates (Australia)
  • John Shin, Portfolio Manager, Roberts Family Office
  • Stefano Cavaglia, Head of Funds of Funds, Philo Capital Advisers
  • Chris Thompson, Portfolio Manager, Advance Asset Management
  • Stephen Baldwin, COO, Regal
  • Jack Lowenstein, Joint CIO, Managing Director, Morphic Asset Management
  • Rob Lance, Head of Ascalon Capital Managers Australia
  • Damien Hatfield, Head of Sales, Australia, Ascalon Capital
The group also discussed:
  1. The need for tail risk protection: models and approaches. Why it won’t help to “move the needle around the 50% mark”
  2. How does Qantas achieve an equity beta (S&P) of just 0.1 - 0.3?
  3. Should hedge funds investing globally engage in FX hedging? And how? How can a family office efficiently manage currency exposures?
  4. Why you should identify typical risk premia of managers and strategies
  5. Qantas Super’s typical fee structure
  6. Is still room for the traditional high beta, index benchmarked long only manager going forward?
  7. How has hedge fund replication changed over the last 15 years?
  8. Why is a lifecycle based approach of investing important for pensions?
  9. How do Australian hedge fund managers succeed and attract assets?

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The Opalesque Roundtable Series offers unparalleled intelligence on the most important global hedge fund jurisdictions and their players. The Roundtable Series is a free publication from Opalesque and is continually updated. Please scroll down to view the full selection of our Roundtables - covering the globe!

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