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Aware Super strengthens public markets capabilities with key hire

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By Rhea Nath
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3 minute read

The superannuation fund has welcomed a former BlackRock and Vanguard executive to take charge of its $90 billion public markets portfolio.

Agnes Hong has been named head of public market equities at Aware Super, commencing in February 2024.

In the role, she is tasked with spearheading the development of Aware’s public market equities capabilities across systematic, managed, and direct equities and the development of the fund’s 2030 strategy for the asset class.

She will be head of the super fund’s $90 billion public markets portfolio and will report to Simon Warner, Aware Super’s head of portfolio management.

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Commenting on the appointment, Mr Warner said: “We are projecting our fund to grow to $250 billion FUM in the next few years with our public market equities strategy playing a key role alongside our property, infrastructure, and private equity portfolios in delivering strong risk-adjusted returns to our members.

“Having someone with Agnes’ calibre, skills, and global experience to lead the evolution of our public market equities strategies across internally and externally managed, systematic and fundamental strategies, will set a new benchmark for how Australian super funds can extract value from this sector.”

Hong has over two decades of expertise in asset management in Australia, Hong Kong, and the US, most recently as chief investment officer at Vestmark Advisory Solutions.

Prior to that, she was a senior portfolio manager and senior member of Vanguard’s Equity Investment Group for four years.

Her experience includes nearly a decade at Charles Schwab, where Hong’s responsibilities included oversight of its equity strategies including ETFs, index mutual funds, alternative beta and thematic strategies with over $160 billion of assets under management.

She also spent over five years at BlackRock, including three years as a portfolio manager for active equities.

Presently based in Philadelphia, Hong said she was excited to be relocating to Australia to join one of the country’s largest super funds.

“Aware Super is celebrated in market as not only being purpose-led, innovative and agile, but offering exciting career development opportunities, and it’s for these reasons that I’m looking forward to contributing and leading the evolution of the fund’s public market equities strategy,” she said.

“Having lived and worked overseas, I also have a deep appreciation of the value Australia’s superannuation system plays in the retirement futures of all Australians, and I’m energised to play a key role in generating a strong retirement income pipeline for Aware Super’s 1.1 million members.”

The fund noted that her appointment signals a strengthening of its public market equities team, including a number of promotions.

Murray Keir has been promoted to senior portfolio manager for systematic equities and Alvin Chan moved up to portfolio manager for direct equities.

Meanwhile, Bruce Low has been promoted to portfolio manager reporting to Alvin Chan and Dan Hunt remained as portfolio manager for managed equities.

Aware Super delivered double-digit returns for the 2023 calendar year, with its high growth option delivering 12.3 per cent over the 12 months to 31 December 2023 and 8.4 per cent per annum on average over 10 years.

This is the fund’s MySuper option for members aged 55 and under – where most members are invested.

Similarly, the fund’s Retirement Income Conservative Balanced option, where most pension members are invested, delivered 8.7 per cent in the calendar year 2023 and 6.5 per cent per annum over 10 years.

Aware Super strengthens public markets capabilities with key hire

The superannuation fund has welcomed a former BlackRock and Vanguard executive to take charge of its $90 billion public markets portfolio.

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