Equity Trustees takes on the big boys and girls

Amanda Noble & Geoff Rimmer
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(Pictured: Amanda Noble & Geoff Rimmer)

Equity Trustees (EQT) has spent the last two years quietly reinventing itself and is now a formidable player in not just trustee services but also wealth management.

Under the leadership of managing director Robin Burns, the company has bedded down its business structure, announced the purchase of ANZ Trustees, and continued to focus on its equity management capabilities with the hire of George Boubouras.

Last week the company announced the listing of a bunch of funds on the ASX’s new mFunds exchange (known as AQUA II in its development phase), and the appointment of Amanda Noble to the new role of head of risk and compliance. Noble will report straight to the managing director. Lance Pupelis has also joined in the newly created role of head of cash and fixed income, reporting to Boubouras.

A further expansion of the superannuation division (a major initiative will be announced this week) will also necessitate at least one more hire.

“It’s a wonderful time,” head of private wealth services Geoff Rimmer says.

“It probably goes back a couple of years when Robin Burns joined the organization [in 2010]. He decided he wanted to simplify the model and set the business up so it was able to participate strongly as a participant in the diversified financial sector.”

The strategy now focuses on the two business units of corporate and fiduciary, headed up by Harvey Kalman, and Rimmer’s private wealth services.

Once complete, the acquisition of ANZ Trustees, announced in April, will boost the group’s funds under management to $5.5 billion.

“That has sparked a further review of making sure that we are organized so that we, can not only cope with the growth inorganically such as the ANZ trustee acquisition, but also create a platform for us to continue the organic growth,” Rimmer says.

The focus on investments started last year with the appointment of George Boubouras to chief investment officer.

“George joined the business last April to create a CIO office and he was provided with a brief that would provide a very strong capability to manage equities internally.”

George was then joined by Paul Kasian in June, as head of Australian equities, and more recently by Lance Pupelis, who will create a fixed income capability.

Combined with ANZ Trustees chief investment officer, Hugh Hodges, the team has over 120 years of investment experience.

“We’re very confident that we are going to be able to grow the business,” Rimmer said.

This growth has created the need for roles like Noble’s and an increased focus on risk and compliance. Noble will build a team once she has assessed the organisation’s needs.

“Risk management and compliance are obviously very important functions within a financial services business, particularly one that has a range of complex issues that we have to deal with, being a trustee company and also our higher level of fiduciary responsibility,” Rimmer says.

The ANZ transaction has doubled the earnings of the group but Equity Trustee’s end game is still to be the largest independent listed trustee in Australia. 

Rimmer joined EQT two years ago and says that personally he loves the challenges and opportunities that the firm offers.

“To come to an organization that has all of the ingredients that you need to participate properly in the intergenerational transfer of wealth…I’ve been hearing about this for most of my career but Equity is the first organization that I’ve encountered that can actually do it.”

“To me it’s a little bit like an Aladdin’s cave.” 

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