Due to the ongoing health concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak, the Forum in Melbourne has been cancelled.

Please contact us if you have questions.


Monday 16 March, 2020

15:30–16:30Fund Manager Briefing Registration

16:30–18:55Fund Manager Briefing

19:00–21:00Welcome Reception & Buffet Dinner

Tuesday 17 March, 2019



08:45–08:55Welcome and Opening

Simon EagletonInstitutional Wealth Leader, Pacific

08:55–09:15It's a Matter of Time: Themes and Opportunities for 2020 and Beyond

Investors need to be clear on their timeframes, prepared for business as unusual and positioned for climate change — all of which require a clear understanding of how related risks and opportunities could develop over time. For most investors, this means extending their focus beyond the current events of geopolitical risk and slower economic growth to bigger-picture issues, such as economic regime shifts, evolving structural trends and increasing market recognition of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, particularly climate change. In this session, we introduce these themes and discuss the potential opportunities and risks as investors prepare to succeed in 2020 and beyond.

Deb ClarkeGlobal Head of Investment Research


Rebecca JacquesSenior Investment Consultant

09:20–09:35Don’t Give Up on Diversification

After a decade-long bull market for equities and bonds, some investors are challenging the merits of diversification. Higher fees and governance requirements for investors in private markets and diversifying alternatives are hard to justify when those asset classes have generally not improved on a simple 60% equities/40% bonds alternative. However, the last decade has been unusually good for markets, a fortune that could easily turn in the current late-cycle environment, with valuations for all asset classes looking stretched. We believe now is not the time to give up on diversification. Instead, it remains as important as ever, and you should ensure you have built genuine diversification into your portfolio.

Kylie WillmentChief Investment Officer, Pacific

09:35–09:45Has the AUD Changed Its Spots?

Mercer considers currency hedging an essential part of any long-term strategy and believes that a hedging policy should be in place. Investors should manage their currency exposures from a total-portfolio level and adapt their approaches in different market conditions. However, for the first time in many years, Australian interest rates are now lower than their US counterparts, the Australian Current Account has moved from a deficit to a surplus and Australian superannuation funds’ capital flows will improve the country’s indebtedness. This triggers a consideration of the role that the Australian dollar plays in the total portfolio. Can an old dog learn new tricks?

Doyle MallettSenior Investment Consultant

09:45–10:25A Timely Debate: Is Modern Monetary Theory the Solution?

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is a minority school of economic thought that argues governments don’t need to finance spending through taxes or borrowing, that at least to some degree “deficits don’t matter” and that the theory provides an alternative approach to economic management.

Critics of MMT argue that it is potentially a dangerous illusion that could result in unnecessary government interference in the private economy, an end to central bank independence and potentially inflationary economic collapse.

In this session, we debate whether MMT provides an authentic alternative to traditional approaches to monetary and fiscal policy and the implications for your portfolios.

Gwion MooreHead of Investment Strategy, Alternatives, Pacific

Sue WangSenior Portfolio Manager, Fixed Income

10:25–10:55Networking and Coffee Break

10:55–11:55Keynote Address: What We Get Wrong About Technology

From gene editing to space travel, nuclear fusion to artificial intelligence, we’ve always been captivated by the frontiers of technological advance. But, Tim Harford argues, this distracts us from what’s really going on when new technologies change the world.

Tim HarfordBehavioural Economist, Financial Times Columnist and Author

11:55–12:05Gold: You're Indestructible

Our undying fascination with this lustrous yellow metal has persisted through generations, lugging with it hopes, frustrations and wonderment. Over time, though, this mythical commodity has transcended folklore; initially serving as the currency standard and now reborn as an admirable monetary and conflict hedge, a safe haven. Over the long term, there may be alternatives to gold, but with unique hedging properties over shorter periods and a multitude of implementation options, gold has a potential role to play in institutional investors’ opportunistic portfolios. Gold … you’re truly indestructible.

Cameron TaylorSenior Investment Consultant

12:05–12:30Decarbonisation in the ‘Decade of Delivery’

It is now five years since the 2015 Paris Agreement and the launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The UN is labelling this the “decade of delivery”, in which we respond to the science-based warnings and implement “a better and more sustainable future for all”. In this context, the UN Environment Programme’s Emissions Gap Report concluded a 7.6% reduction in carbon emissions is needed every year to 2030. But how should investors address transition risk and deliver on decarbonisation goals? Will net-zero targets and aligning with the Paris Agreement also align with investment objectives? We begin to answer these questions, outline a range of implementation approaches and connect the risks with the opportunities. We present today’s investable solutions and insights into how the portfolio-wide universe is evolving for the decade ahead.

Jillian ReidSenior Responsible Investment Specialist

Nick WhiteGlobal Strategic Research Director

12:30–13:10Active Ownership vs. Activism – What’s the Role of Shareholders?

Investors are expected to hold boards accountable for their strategies and performance. This means being good stewards of the assets entrusted to them. Signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment commit to “active ownership”, which includes engagement and active proxy voting to promote good governance and sustainable business practices. But does this mean sacking the board when governance failures arise? Or voting down remuneration plans to punish unsustainable corporate practices?

In this panel discussion, we explore the delicate and often quixotic approach to shareholder engagement and proxy voting. We hear from BHP, a company often targeted by activists and active owners alike, as well as two of Australia’s leaders in responsible investment and stewardship.

Alexis CheangHead of Responsible Investment, Pacific


Måns Carlsson-SweeneyHead of ESG Research, Ausbil Investment Management

Akaash SachdevaSenior Responsible Investment Advisor, HESTA

Tony CudmoreGroup Sustainability & Public Policy Officer, BHP Group



A.Loose Risks Sink Ships! With Icebergs Ahead, Now Is the Time to Set Your Course

In the context of ever-changing community standards and societal expectations, a whole new set of “risk icebergs” are on the loose. They’re loosely defined and loosely understood, however they affect how you do business, who you do business with and your relationship with your broader stakeholders. In this breakout session, we speak to three of these new risks: organisational culture, modern slavery in your potfolios and supply chains, and investment-related peer/career risk.

Each one has the potential to sink your ship. We explore why organisation should start considering these risks and how they can pull them together in an appropriate risk framework so they are not scuttled by the 90% that is hidden beneath the surface.

Clayton SillsSuperannuation Client Segment Leader, Pacific


Timothy StampResponsible Investment Specialist

Jasmine FowdhManagement Consultant, Oliver Wyman

Maan BeydounRisk and Compliance Partner, Institutional Wealth

B.Capturing Private Debt Opportunities for Australian Investors - A Panel Discussion

Institutional investors around the world are increasingly realising that their ability to reap a return premium by investing a portion of their capital with a longer time frame is a valuable asset that they are not fully utilising. At the same time, the tightening of constraints on bank lending since the global financial crisis has fuelled the growth of private debt as a source of financing. What is the best way to capture this opportunity? This is your chance to quiz a panel of asset owners, asset managers and Mercer specialists on what to look out for.

Nikki BrownInstitutional Investment Sales Leader


Bill MuyskenGlobal Chief Investment Officer, Alternatives

George LinSenior Investment Manager, Colonial First State

Matt TurnerHead of Australia & New Zealand Senior Debt, ICG

C.Let’s Construct a China A-shares Allocation – Workshop

With a listed equity market that boasts being one of the largest and most liquid globally, China A-shares are arguably underrepresented in today’s leading global equity indices. However, the opportunity to deliver alpha and the diversification benefits have offshore investors examining the best way to access what can seem a challenging market.

In this session, we highlight some of the key areas for consideration when investing in China A-shares (for example, governance, market access, risks and opportunities) as we work through some practical ways investors can introduce China A-shares to their investment portfolios.

Ronan McCabeHead of Portfolio Management

Shannon ReillyPortfolio Manager, Equities

D.Delivering Better Member Outcomes – Interactive Session

New APRA prudential standards require superannuation trustees to focus on member outcomes and use these outcomes to guide their decision-making. Helping members achieve desired outcomes includes a focus on risk-adjusted, net-investment returns and targeting retirement benefit levels. With this in mind, we discuss how different decisions and investment options can positively impact member outcomes.

Emily BarlowSenior Investment Consultant

Tim JenkinsSenior Retirement Actuarial Consultant

15:05–15:25Investment Wisdom for the Digital Age

A strong theme of institutional investment is the search for alpha or outperformance. The best investors are constantly searching for new ideas, new sources of information and ways to collect and process it faster to establish or maintain their advantage. How will the search for investment opportunities be impacted by the rise in artificial intelligence and big data? Will investing in the future be an art, science or skill? We present insights from our new book on what the investment world will look like in the digital age.

Harry LiemDirector of Strategic Research and Head of Capital Markets, Pacific

15:25–15:55The Science of Leadership: How Organisations Succeed Through Culture

Performance is almost always a function of exceptional leadership. But why is that? The answer is that great leaders enable three things: good decisions, the right talent and a culture that supports the best outcomes. While this seems obvious, many businesses continue to underestimate the people side of success — underinvesting in culture and leadership to focus on other short-term initiatives. As relentless innovation continues to change the world around us, what have we learned about the role that leadership, talent and culture plays in enabling sustainable performance — especially for the most sophisticated teams?

Lewis GarradPeople Science, Employee Experience Solutions, International

15:55–16:25Networking Break

16:25–17:05Fab Four: The Battle for 4% Real Return

In this competitive session, four investment specialists pitch four investment ideas that can deliver at least a 4% return above inflation over the long term (10 years). After hearing the presentations, you get to discuss with the attendees at your table and decide as a group which of the four gets your vote to add to or boost in your existing portfolio.

Katrina TranInvestment Consultant


1.Time Heals All Wounds: Value Equity

Suzanne LubbeAsset Class Specialist, Equity Boutique

2.The Times, They Are A-Changing: Sustainable Equities

Elizabeth PaineInvestment Consultant

3.Buying Time: Australian Loans

Emma PotockiInstitutional Wealth Analyst

4.Don't Fight the Future: In Tech We Trust

David ScobieSenior Investment Consultant

17:05–17:25The Time Is Now: Go Forth Boldly and Shape the Future

In this session, we bring together the various themes and topics highlighted over the course of the Forum. In building a bolder, brighter future, we put forward suggestions for how you as investors can build these ideas into your future investment plans — the time to act is now.

Denis WalshInsurance Client Segment Leader, Pacific

18:00–22:00Offsite Dinner

Draft Agenda. Subject to change.