Aware Super paid $470k bonus to CIO

Aware Super has revealed to a parliamentary committee that it paid $470,000 in bonuses to its chief investment officer, Damian Graham, and paid $254,000 in bonuses to its chief executive, Deanne Stewart, during the last financial year. 

In answering Liberal’s Julian Simmonds’ question on its bonuses, Stewart said the superannuation fund looked to pay bonuses and remuneration that was benchmarked across the broader wealth industry. 

“Typically we look to pay around the median. We want to make sure that we are competitive, attract and retain and motivate staff but also that we’re not paying top of the market either,” Stewart said. 

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“The reason why we want to attract and retain staff is to look after and make sure we are maximising our members’ investments. 

“When you look at the people that are attracted to come to Aware Super they’d want to know they are being paid fairly and competitively but the primary reason that attract people to come [to work at Aware Super] is around the purpose and values of our organisations, our aspirations ,and also the type of members that we serve.” 

When chair of the committee, Liberal’s Tim Wilson, asked what the average super balance of its members were, Stewart said it was $130,000, which was four times less than the annual bonus of the CIO. 

“Our members would want to know we are hiring the best talent in the market to look after their retirement savings and that’s certainly how we set our remuneration policy,” Stewart said. 

Commenting, Wilson said: “I think they would broadly accept that but I think the idea that one person is getting paid more four times in a bonus of their entire retirement savings might question whether those salary expectations are reasonable”. 

Later on during the hearing Wilson also asked Fiducian Superannuation Services whether or not Fiducian Group thought it was acceptable to pay half a million dollars in bonuses. 

Fiducian Superannuation Services chair, Drew Vaughan, said: “I would say our practice has not been to pay bonuses at that level but I won’t comment specifically about Fiducian group”. 

When further pressed about whether there were bonuses for trustees as part of the super platform, Vaughan said there were three directors who were part of the main Fiducian Group board who were paid bonuses, one being general manager for superannuation Ross Martin.  

Martin said he was paid a bonus of $20,000 during the last financial year. 

“There is a small bonus component relates to performance as group as a whole and KPIs I have are not related to risk I take to ensure the fund does any outside its normal course of action,” he said. 

Wilson said: “So Aware Super pays $250,000 and you’re one of the best performers in the market. Starting to make those claims look ‘this is what competitive market position is’ look pretty sketchy to me”. 

Also on the committee, Labor’s Dr Daniel Mulino noted that larger entities would generally pay more in bonuses to smaller entities.  

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