HESTA appoints defensives GM

Healthcare sector industry fund HESTA has appointed Stephen Howard as general manager – defensives. 

Howard had over 20 years’ experience in financial services, including over 10 years at Vanguard Australia where he was the long-standing Asia Pacific head of fixed income. 

Prior to joining HESTA, he was the senior portfolio manager at Medibank Private and spent seven years at the Treasury Corporation of Victoria. 

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Sonya Sawtell-Rickson, HESTA chief investment officer (CIO), said his appointment would continue to build on the internalisation program that would see management of fixed interest and cash begin to shift in-house in 2022.  

“Stephen will be leading the next phase of our internalisation journey, as we move to internally manage fixed interest and cash instruments,” Sawtell-Rickson said. 

“It’s exciting to have Stephen come on board as he has a proven track record of investing significant portfolios, managing highly successful teams and leading strategic thinking.” 

Howard said he looked forward to joining HESTA and being part of an innovative and leading investment team with strong growth plans. 

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve witnessed first-hand the critical role health care providers play within our community,” Howard said.  

HESTA previously announced an internalisation program would be implemented in Australian equities by 2021 and be underway in cash and fixed interest asset classes in 2022. 

The program had already re-vamped its leadership structure with the appointment of  Stephanie Weston as head of portfolio design. 

Steven Semczyszyn also joined HESTA in early 2020 to lead the internal Australian equities team. 

Sawtell-Rickson said the internalisation program was part of building out a long-term hybrid model, combining skilled internal management alongside leading external asset management partners. 

“We have a broad-ranging and ambitious strategy to drive cost efficiencies and build capability so we’re bringing the best thinking to how we manage a growing and significant pool of assets,” Sawtell-Rickson said. 

“This will support us to continue to deliver strong, competitive long-term investment returns for our more than 880,000 HESTA members.” 

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