Leading ESG figure Hagart to leave Australian super fund body ACSI

Unexpected departure from A$400bn membership body

Gordon Hagart, a leading figure in the responsible investment sector having been involved in the genesis of the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) while at the UN Environment Programme in Geneva, has unexpectedly announced he is leaving his role as CEO of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI).

Hagart has been involved in the council’s campaigns on female board representation and investment banks’ underwriting fees since joining in 2013.

ACSI, whose members represent more than A$400bn (€273.6bn) in funds under management, provides research and advice to superfunds on managing environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investment risk.

It comprises not just domestic institutions but overseas investors such as CalPERS, APG Asset Management, PGGM, Railpen and the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

Hagart joined the 37-member body from Australia’s sovereign wealth fund the Future Fund, where he was Head of ESG Risk Management. He took over at ACSI from Ann Byrne, who retired. ACSI President Gerard Noonan said the news was unexpected and regrettable: “Gordon has been a strong voice on ACSI’s behalf during his tenure.”Hagart said the decision was the right one for his family: “This has been a very difficult decision to take. I’ve loved every minute of my time in Australia at two great organisations – ACSI and before that the Future Fund – doing work that I believe is very important for the beneficiaries of long-term institutional investors.”

ACSI has initiated a search process for Hagart’s replacement. He has agreed to stay until Easter to facilitate a smooth transfer.

Recently ACSI, which represents members representing $1.6trn (€1.1bn) in investments, announced it was spearheading the global movement for corporate boards to be at least 30% female in Australia. It will engage with ASX 200 boards in the hope that they reach this goal by 2017.

Elsewhere, HESTA, the A$29bn (€20.3bn) Australian super fund for health and community services, has appointed its deputy chief executive Debby Blakey to CEO, replacing Annie-Marie Corboy.

Corboy will continue a connection with the fund after being nominated by the Hesta board to the global infrastructure fund Utilities Trust of Australia for a three-year term from March 1. HESTA last year became the first major Australian fund to stop new investment into major thermal coal-related companies.