After a six-year hiatus two of New Zealand Funds Management’s seminal directors have been reappointed to the board.
Co-founder Gerald Siddall and Russell Tills, who together led the NZ Funds business from the late 1980s until 2009, both rejoined the boutique manager’s board as non-executive directors as at March 21 this year.
Siddall and Tills, who collectively own over 40 per cent of the company, stepped down from the NZ Funds board in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Richard James, NZ Funds chief since 2009, said the board reappointments reflected a recent shift of decision-making power between the group’s operating company and holding entity (Investment Group Holdings).
James said NZ Funds had moved to simplify its governance arrangements in readiness for the impending Financial Markets Conduct Act (FMC) licensing regime.
“All the primary power is now held by the operating company,” he said.
While Siddall and Tills had remained as Investment Group Holding directors, James said under the new structure it was “logical that all shareholders were represented on the operating company board”.
He said NZ Funds, a privately-held firm, had rewritten its charter to meet public company standards including the move to at least two independent directors, one of whom would take on the chair role currently filled by James.
“The board will probably evolve further over time with more independent directors and fewer executives on the board,” James said.
Founded in 1988, the boutique Auckland-based multi-management firm has roughly $900 million under management including about $125 million in its KiwiSaver scheme.
Siddall and Tills stepped back from management and NZ Funds board roles in 2009/10 amid controversy surrounding the pair’s involvement in the Fidelity Finance company (not associated with insurance firm Fidelity Life), First Step and First Up investment products that were primarily marketed by now-defunct advisory firm, Money Managers.
According to the NZ Funds recently-amended KiwiSaver prospectus, the First Step and First Up were withdrawn in 2006.