Long-time Mercer NZ identity, Russell Garrett, is to leave the business in June.
After 11 years with the group, Garrett, currently Mercer head of institutional wealth NZ, will assume the role as executive officer for the Presbyterian Church Property Trustees (PCP) mid June.
He already serves as a trustee for the investment group in PCP, which governs the church’s $1.2 billion property portfolio and two investment funds with total assets under management of about $230 million.
In a note to clients last week, he said the move to PCP was “an opportunity for me to contribute more directly to something that I have been involved with for a long period of time”.
“It’s difficult to leave Mercer, because the business is in a great space,” Garrett says in the note. “On the other hand, I’m confident the team won’t let our clients down – Mercer in New Zealand has always been a strong combination of local and global ideas delivered by multiple team members on the ground.”
A Mercer spokesperson said the firm had started a recruitment process with both external and internal candidates likely to be considered.
“We will be sorry to see such a dynamic character as Russell go, and acknowledge the tremendous commitment he has shown to both Mercer and our clients. However, we understand his calling and wish him all the best,” the note says.
“Mercer has already been adding resource for growth and Russell’s departure provides an opportunity to ensure Mercer is recruiting for the future as well as today.”
In addition to his institutional client responsibilities, Garrett is also a member of the Mercer Endowment and Foundations specialist client unit.
Before joining Mercer in May 2008 he spent 17 years in various financial services roles in NZ and the UK, including a seven-year stint with ASB investments. Previously, Garrett also worked for Trustees Executors in custody and corporate trustee roles.
At PCP he will take over from incumbent executive officer, Kos van Lier, during a period of change for the organisation.
In the group’s latest annual newsletter, outgoing PCP chair, Roger Gyles, says: “The work of the Trustees is becoming more technical, complex and demanding in response to societal changes. To meet the changes there is a greater need for Trustees to have business and technical expertise to be able to properly carry out their governance duties.”
The newsletter says Garrett took over as chair of both the group’s Beneficiary Fund trustee and investment committees from Ian Russon late last year. Russon remains as the licensed independent trustee for the entity, continuing as a member of both the board and investment committee.
In 2016 PCP agreed to shut down its staff defined benefit scheme in a process that saw about $52 million of the previous $89 million transfer to a new defined contribution fund (managed by Mercer).
PCP also operates the approximately $173 million Presbyterian Investment Fund (PIF), currently managed by Harbour Asset Management, which is a savings scheme open to all parishes.
Booster administers the PIF while Melville Jessup Weaver (MJW) is administrator and actuary to the Beneficiary Fund.