Future Fund expands timberland head’s role in overhaul

Wendy Norris will now oversee private equity and property alongside infra and forestry amid a restructuring at Australia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Australia’s Future Fund is overhauling its organizational structure to make the sovereign wealth vehicle more “nimble and collaborative.”

The changes include expanding Wendy Norris’s role, until now head of infrastructure and timberland, who as deputy chief investment officer of private markets will also oversee private equity and property.

Norris joined Future Fund in 2010, two years after the organization launched its infrastructure strategy, as a director in the infrastructure and timberland team. Five years later, she was promoted to head of infrastructure and timberland.

During her tenure, Future Fund’s infrastructure and timberland portfolio has grown to A$10.7 billion ($8.3 billion; €6.8 billion), accounting for 8 percent of the fund’s total AUM, which as at 31 December 2017 was $139 billion.

The sovereign wealth fund will also begin a global search for a chief technology officer, a new position “created to further strengthen the organization’s focus on maximizing value through the use of technology,” the fund said.

The move is in line with Future Fund’s goals of upgrading its investment data, systems and analytics capabilities.

“Upgrading our investment data and analytics is our highest priority initiative,” Future Fund chief executive David Neal wrote in the organization’s latest annual report.

In other changes, Raphael Arndt will continue as chief investment officer but will assume responsibility for the investment functions of the chief investment strategist, a role the fund created in 2014 when it appointed Stephen Gilmore, until then head of strategy.

Gilmore, who has been with Future Fund since 2009, will support the transition to the new structure before leaving in April, the institution said.

Established in 2006, Future Fund has returned 8.1 percent per year over the past decade, adding A$78 billion in value to the original A$60.5 billion contribution from the government.

It did not provide details about returns from the fund’s infrastructure and timber portfolios to date and had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.