Fiona Trafford-Walker has maintained her position as one of the top 10 asset consultants in the world, according to a US investment media outlet, but she is now the only Australian on the list, which is compiled annually by Asset International.
Trafford-Walker, the long-time head of investments for Frontier Advisors, is ranked number four in the world, as she was last year. However, her long-time competitor, John Coombe of JANA Investment Advisers, has slipped off the latest list. He was ranked number eight last year.
The list has been compiled since 2012 but this year, instead of ranking the top 25 consultants, the publishers of AI-CIO magazine have split the list into the top 10 generalists, such as Trafford-Walker and Coombe, and the top 10 specialists. There are no Australians on the specialists list.
The top 10 has changed considerably in the past 12 months, with former number one, Keith Ambachtsheer, the well-known Canadian pensions specialist, also slipping off the list completely. He was replaced in the top spot by Tim McCusker, the CIO of NEPC in Boston, who was ranked sixth last year. The only other consultant listed who has an Australian presence is Chris Ford, the London-based global head of investments for Towers Watson, who came in sixth this year.
The number one specialist consultant in the world is John Claisse, the CIO of hedge fund researcher Albourne Partners in San Francisco. Albourne, which has a Hong Kong office, also has several Australian super fund clients.
In an interview with AI-CIO Trafford-Walker says the institution she would most like to work with, but currently does not, is the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.
Asked to name one institutional investor who failed to appear on the magazine’s top 100 CIOs last year, but should have, Trafford-Walker said her former colleague, Kristian Fok, the executive manager of investment strategy at Cbus.
Both Trafford Walker, who has been in consulting for 20 years, and Coombe who has racked up 25 years in the role, have only ever worked for their respective firms in that capacity.
Trafford-Walker said she would never work for another consulting firm, but added that she would like to become a roving photographer for National Geographic magazine if she could not be an asset consultant.
* Greg Bright is publisher of Investor Strategy News (Australia)