Catholic Super: Australia’s 2016 best returns in ‘Balanced Option’

By Jordan Grantham, 2 May 2017
Gary Lette, Chief Investment Officer of Catholic Super. Photo: Supplied.

Catholic Super has done it again. This time Catholic Super won equal first position for the ‘Balanced Option’, with 10.1% return, after fees and taxes, in the calendar year of 2016, according to the SuperRatings survey of the top 50 funds in Australia.

Gary Lette, Chief Investment Officer of Catholic Super, spoke to Catholic Outlook about these results.

“We don’t focus our thinking and strategies on periods as short as a single year, of course. Nonetheless, we are very pleased with this outcome,” Gary said.

The Investment Department is focussed on the needs of members, of which there are over 70 000. Catholic Super’s $7.8 billion in management makes it a middle-sized industry super fund.

“Investment markets are complex,” Gary said.

“We are more pleased with returns over the longer term, perhaps ten years,” he said.

“We try to avoid getting distracted by short term noise in the markets.”

In the Investment Department, a lot of the time is spent focussing on long-term goals, “keeping an eye on all relevant factors, well diversified and focus on the fundamentals.”

“We don’t look at other funds and try to distinguish ourselves, we don’t consciously try to beat the other funds”

What caused 2016’s strong result?

“Some active managers had a strong year.” Investment decisions are diversified among Catholic Super’s multiple external portfolio management firms.

“There is heavy weighting to large companies,” Gary said.

Gary has been at Catholic Super for seven years and puts his money where his mouth is, as a member of Catholic Super.

Another benefit of Catholic Super is its commitment to responsible investment.

“It is an effort in engagement. Corporate Engagement Specialists work with other companies’ behaviour to improve their performance,” Gary said.

Rather than divest funds in companies with governance weaknesses, Catholic Super works to support improvements in their compliance.

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