Mercer NZ has added to the “very small group of Māori” women at the upper echelons of the investment world with the appointment of Kristen Kohere-Soutar as director, the group said in a statement last week.
Kohere-Soutar, currently chair of the $62 million Ngāi Tahu-run Whai Rawa Fund, joined Mercer NZ as independent non-executive director effective August 9. She will step down as chair of Whai Rawa, which invests entirely via Mercer, in November this year, the statement says.
“Protocols are in place to manage the dual-directorship in the intervening period,” the Mercer release says.
Previously, Kohere-Soutar served on the boards of the ASB Community Trust (now known as Foundation North) and the Aoteroa Credit Union. She was also head of specialist markets and development at Kiwibank.
As well as Kohere-Soutar, the Mercer NZ board includes local chief, Martin Lewington, Nelson-based independent director, Ross Butler, and two Mercer Australia representatives – CEO Ben Walsh and finance director, Peter Cameron.
Mercer NZ, part of the global Marsh & McLennan Companies group, reported a profit of almost $8 million in 2016 on revenue of about $53.4 million compared to $4.4 million and $49 million, respectively, during the previous year. In November 2015, the group also established a new NZ-domiciled parent company – MMC Holdings – which replaced the US-incorporated Mercer Holdings in the role.
Whai Rawa is the only iwi-based organisation to transition to the Financial Markets Conduct Act (FMC) regime as a licenced managed investment scheme (MIS) operator.
Kohere-Soutar said there would be “much I can bring from my Whai Rawa experience to Mercer”.
“Looking forward, the investment industry in New Zealand is stepping in to a new world era including sustainable investments,” she said in the release. “This and other opportunities and challenges require a relentless commitment to our clients’ needs and to bring more diverse and connected perspectives, creative solutions and agile decision making to the board room – and I know Mercer is up for that.”
In other appointment new last week, Harbour Asset Management – headquartered, like Mercer in Wellington – named former ASB and Colonial First State (NZ) head of investments, Ainsley McLaren, as executive director.
Based in Harbour’s Auckland office, McLaren, fills the remaining vacancy left by the departure of former chief operating officer (COO) , Jody Kaye, this July for Fisher Funds.
Following Kaye’s exit, Harbour split his role into two positions with former Trustees Executors senior client relationship manager, Ruari McGregor, taking up the COO job this month.
McLaren, currently board member with the Financial Markets Authority and the Government Superannuation Fund, will assume the head of client servicing responsibilities for Harbour at the end of August.