Mercer rearranges chair as Butler departs

Kristen Kohere-Soutar
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Kristen Kohere-Soutar has stepped up as Mercer NZ chair following the retirement of long-time incumbent, Ross Butler.

Kohere-Soutar joined the Mercer board in 2017, simultaneously dropping her director spot on the Ngāi Tahu-run Whai Rawa Fund. Mercer runs both investment and, more recently, fund administration for the almost $100 million Whai Rawa.

In a statement, Mercer NZ chief Martin Lewington, said Kohere-Soutar’s “experience in governance, corporate strategy, stakeholder management and leadership with iwi among a number of other areas has complemented the skill-set of other directors”.
Full-time director, Paula Jackson, fills the vacated Mercer board seat as at February 1. Jackson, who currently holds a number of board roles including with Airways NZ and Quotable Value, was one of the first senior hires at cloud accounting firm Xero.

She was Xero marketing general manager from 2008 until 2013. Previously, Jackson held a number of top level marketing roles in NZ with Vodafone, Spark, ANZ and IBM.

Butler, a well-known figure in NZ financial services circles, exits after a seven-year stretch on the Mercer board. He remains a member of the financial adviser Code Committee as well as holding a couple of other director gigs.

Early this century, Butler headed the Financial Planning and Investment Advisers Association, an industry body that ultimately evolved into Financial Advice NZ.

He resigned as chair of Southern Response late in 2018 in the wake of a client spying scandal at the government-owned Christchurch earthquake insurance entity.

Lewington said during Butler’s board tenure Mercer made “some significant achievements when it comes to delivering the best investment outcomes for our customers and clients”.

In a raft of fund manager appointments across the ditch last week, Infrastructure Partners Investment Fund (IPIF) formally appointed Kurt Lemke as head of research and portfolio construction.

Lemke was previously a senior adviser to IPIF, presenting in late last year with the unlisted infrastructure specialist.

Nicole Connolly, IPIF chief, said Lemke “will be at the forefront of portfolio construction and research for IPIF and our investors”.

“IPIF seeks to help better educate non-institutional investors about unlisted infrastructure and where it fits in their asset allocation and portfolio construction,” Connolly said in a release.

Prior to joining IPIF, Lemke was group director at the once Westpac-owned alternative asset firm, Hastings Fund Management. Jonathan van Rooyen, IPIF chief investment officer, also hailed from Hastings.

Meanwhile, Tom Green has taken over as fund manager for the A$5.3 billion AMP Capital Diversified Property Fund from Brett Williams. Williams shifted to the retail division of the AMP Capital business this January.

Green joined AMP Capital in 2017 following stints at Lendlease and Colliers International.

Elsewhere, one of Australia’s pioneering boutique equities shop, Investors Mutual Limited (IML), has hired a NZ national sales manager.

Gavin Butt, will also represent the iconic Australian shares value manager – founded by the colourful Anton Tagliaferro in 1998 – in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, IML head of retail, Wayne McGauley, said in a statement.

“Gavin has spent more than 12 years developing strong relationships with clients across the advice industry, and the depth of his experience will help us provide a high level of service to our clients in NSW, ACT and New Zealand,” McGauley said.

Before IML, Butt served as a business development manager with the National Australia Bank wealth division, MLC, following four years multi-boutique firm, Fidante Partners.

He also held roles with Amundi Asset Management, BT, Colonial, Skandia as well as a turn with legendary Australian trade publishing house, InvestorInfo (defunct).

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