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Future Fund’s ESG Head Hagart named CEO of Australian super fund body ACSI

Sovereign wealth fund executive to head influential industry group

Gordon Hagart, Head of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Risk Management at the A$88.9bn (€61.8bn) Future Fund, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, has been named as the new Chief Executive of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI).

He will replace Ann Byrne, who retires at the end of October after five years in the role at the body, which represents more than 30 industry and government funds in the not-for-profit sector which manage more than A$350bn.

ACSI President Gerard Noonan said Hagart has demonstrated a strong background improving environmental, social and governance – most recently spearheading the development and implementation of the ESG risk management program at the Future Fund.

Hagart played a key role in creating the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment while working at the UN Environment Programme in Geneva.

“Australia has a world-class pension system, and has become a centre of excellence in integrating ESG issues into investment decision-making and the exercise of ownership rights,” Hagart said.

“ACSI and its members have been in the vanguard of those developments.”

Hagart began his career as an investment banking analyst with Greenhill & Co. in London, and also worked as an investment consultant in Zurich. He holds degrees in geophysics from the University of Cambridge.

Hagart explained how the Future Fund approaches responsible investment in a detailed interview with Responsible Investor earlier this month.David Neal, Chief Investment Officer at the Future Fund said: “We’re very sorry to see Gordon move on after four years with the Fund. His focus and clarity of thought across the breadth of ESG risks and opportunities and his diligence and insight in leading the management of the Fund’s ownership rights has been invaluable. He leaves a significant legacy to the investment team and the broader organisation.”

The Future Fund said ESG risk management would continue to be important to the fund, both domestically and internationally. As a result, it will immediately commence a recruitment process to hire an appropriate person to fill Hagart’s role. The fund said the role was an opportunity to be involved in a ‘big’, long-term money run by a small team with access to leading investors (including through our external managers) and to add to a long-term, global, multi-asset class portfolio.

Hagart will remain with the Future Fund through to late October/early November.

ACSI is a leading voice in Australian governance. It’s 12th annual Board Composition study, for example, released on September 25, showed how the country’s largest companies are responding to investor expectations, improving their gender diversity and broadening the ‘gene pool’ in their search for new non-executive directors.

Meanwhile, the Future Fund has announced it has appointed executive search firm Korn Ferry to help it find a replacement for Mark Burgess, who announced his resignation as Managing Director and President on September 4. Burgess will remain in his role to facilitate a smooth transition to new leadership.