(pictured: Bob Henricks)
Bob Henricks has retired as chair of Queensland’s Energy Super and a career battling for worker and member rights. Arguably one of the most influential trustees in the country, Henricks is, however, considering other board appointments. Brian Delaney* looks at the man behind the industry legend.
It is easy to underestimate Bob Henricks. His long-term union background, passion for his members and parochial Queensland style didn’t really seem like the ideal set of attributes for a trustee in the new emerging world of Superannuation in the 1980s.
However, it is exactly this set of skills and passion that allowed Bob to have a significant impact on the funds he chaired or was a trustee of, as well as his general contribution to the superannuation industry.
I first met Bob over 30 years ago. I was a young, naive 20-something looking to make my mark in this new emerging world of superannuation. Before 1983, superannuation was primarily the domain of selected employees in corporate or government schemes. That all changed in the 80s, with the introduction of Award Super, and allowed Bob to start his impressive career in our industry.
Bob was the chair of a couple of small funds in Queensland and I was involved in looking to expand the administration and investments of the firm I worked for in those days.
He always made time to listen, give thoughtful suggestions or comments and would always follow through when he gave “his word “.
Relationships matter to Bob. Your word was more important than a piece of paper and he was a master of reading people and understanding their real motives. No doubt, this has been an invaluable skill over his long career.
He has had his share of challenges along the way. Mergers have always been on the agenda and Bob has skilfully negotiated a number but has always maintained a steely focus on what is in the members’ best interest. This is important given that large percentages of members are generally disengaged with their fund and rely on the fiduciary responsibility of trustees like Bob to decide on their behalf.
Bob has chaired or served on boards several super funds since the 1980s, including being involved in the launch of AUSTQ and SPEC Super and overseeing consolidation among the various electrical trades funds. On his watch, the performance of those funds has usually been top quartile.
He was a founding director trustee of Guardior, (trustee of The Infrastructure Fund formerly known as The Private Capital Group) who have provided a collective exposure to unlisted assets for many years and produced great returns – in some respects a Queensland version of the IFM model.
He has won the Trustee of the Year award – last year – and has been referred to as the “Godfather of Super” within Queensland.
This industry has been good to Bob as well and it has not always been so serious. He has been known to don Elvis outfits on multiple occasions, enjoy the odd game of golf with a fund manager and attend conferences in nice locations to better ‘educate’ himself.
Bob has now moved on from the world of being a trustee to being a pension-drawing member of the funds he has been involved in for over 30 years. I hope they don’t muck up his statement!
I suspect one of his fears is “who is looking after the member “, now his voice has gone from the boardroom table.
*Brian Delaney is executive director of strategy, client and global markets for QIC and, like Henricks, a proud Queenslander.