Recently-hired interim ANZ Investments CIO, Paul Huxford, could parlay the stop-gap role into a permanent appointment.
Huxford, fast-tracked into the CIO job following the surprise resignation of incumbent Graham Ansell in late March, said he was interested in extending his tenure.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it would be for the long term,” he said. “I’ve tossed my hat into the ring.”
Craig Mulholland, head of ANZ Wealth NZ, said while he hoped to name a permanent CIO “as soon as possible” the formal recruitment process – targeting both internal, NZ and offshore candidates – could take some months.
“It’s rare in a funds management business of this size for a CIO to resign – and we certainly want to find a replacement quickly – but I’m comfortable Paul can lead the investment team until we make a decision,” Mulholland said. “But it’s incumbent on me to have a look at who in the market – both external and internal – is best-placed to lead the business to the next level over the next five to ten years.”
Similarly, he said the bank was taking a careful approach to replacing the manager’s head of Australasian equities, Mark Brown, who finished last October after resigning in August to take up the CIO role at Devon Funds Management this January.
“We have been looking for a replacement [for Mark Brown] but there is great depth in the team,” Mulholland said. “My view is that we have to get the right person to work with the team – do it once, and do it right.”
Despite the recruitment challenges – complicated by a number of other senior staff exits – he said the bank was committed to retaining its investment business including the in-house funds management team.
“We have no intention to divest the funds management business,” Mulholland said, “it’s critical to the wider bank.”
He said the funds management arm underpinned the bank’s investment offer to KiwiSaver, wholesale investor, private wealth division and financial advisers.
ANZ Investments (ANZI) is the country’s largest non-government fund manager with $28 billion plus under management, including about $12 billion garnered via the bank’s three KiwiSaver schemes.
Mulholland said the ANZI total staff-count now stands at 36, split about equally between investment and operations divisions.
He said – post Ansell – the investment business faced challenges sustaining returns through “late-cycle” markets, capacity issues in some areas and ongoing pressure on fees.
Huxford said he would not be making major changes to the ANZI process.
“[The ANZI] team has tremendous, high-performance people,” he said. “And I think we are on the same page. I take a long-term view and focus on quality companies – it’s an orthodox funds management approach.”
Aside from “a little bit of hiring”, Huxford said ANZI – like the rest of the industry – would have to “do more with less” as cost pressures bite.
While Huxford is not well-known to the wider funds management industry, he said his extensive experience leading large equity research teams would come into play at ANZI.
“I haven’t been on this side of the fence before but I’m comfortable with the situation,” he said.
Huxford served as JP Morgan head of Europe, Middle East and Africa equities research over 2011-14 following three years heading the Australian equities research team.
Before joining JP Morgan Huxford spent seven years in various equity research positions with Macquarie in Auckland, Sydney and Singapore. Prior to Macquarie he worked for BT (and Deutsche when it briefly owned the investment house in 1999-2000) mainly in credit analyst roles.
Since late 2015 Huxford has taken on various consultancy roles including one with another “Australian-owned bank” in the middle of last year.