Tim Macready Chief Investment Officer, Christian Super Art by Victor Juhasz
Tim Macready

“Tim is a great asset on our team. He has an ability to bring a highly principled perspective to organisational issues or investment opportunities, but to then engage in a way that delivers a pragmatic and workable outcome.”

— Ross Piper, CEO, Christian Super

Christian Super’s Tim Macready invests with a purpose. Not just for ensuring the retirement of Australian members of the church, but for environmentally, social, and governance (ESG) elements as well. Macready spent three-quarters of 2017 as interim CEO in addition to his CIO responsibilities, winning Asset Owner of the Year at the Global Steering Group (GSG) Summit on Impact Investing for the fund’s work on impact investing.

He won’t be stopping anytime soon, as Macready hopes that impact investing will become a fiduciary priority in the next 20 years. With ESG becoming a more prevalent fixture in today’s investment climate, Macready’s predictions could come to fruition sooner rather than later. Before taking on the role, Macready was an actuarial analyst for Aon. He also currently serves as managing director for Brightlight Impact Advisory.

CIO: What are the accomplishments you are most happy to have achieved recently, and why?

Macready: Years ago, we set out to demonstrate that you could be a responsible investor and deliver on your fiduciary obligations at the same time. I’m really pleased that we’ve not only done that, but we’ve continued to push the boundaries of how capital can be used for positive social and environmental outcomes as well as strong investment returns. Over the last few years, we’ve introduced impact reporting so that beneficiaries can see not just their financial returns but also their personal impact, and it’s been something that the beneficiaries have loved. And in a very competitive environment here in Australia, where beneficiaries can choose from over 100 different retirement funds, it’s something that is attracting people to us as members.

I spent the last nine  months of 2017 as interim CEO, in addition to my CIO responsibilities. It was a massive challenge, but an immensely rewarding experience, and I’m proud that we achieved everything we hoped for in terms of delivering on our strategic plan, building deeper staff engagement, and more than doubling the growth rate of our number of beneficiaries.

CIO: What would you be most excited to accomplish in the year ahead, and why?

Macready: I’d love to hit and even exceed our investment objectives.

 What’s the most rewarding aspect of being an asset owner?
Macready: For me, it’s about knowing that the work we do and the returns that we generate are helping everyday Australians to save for a retirement that has purpose and meaning. The majority of our members are involved in serving their local communities as teachers, pastors, and volunteers, and if we do our job right, they’ll have the resources to continue to serve at the time in their life when they perhaps have the most to offer in terms of wisdom and experience. I love that as an asset owner in a profit-for-beneficiaries fund, every extra dollar we make goes back to those 27,000 Australians who are trusting us to deliver what they need in retirement.

 What’s the most challenging?

Macready: It’s really tough to allocate capital. We want to continue to generate good absolute returns for our beneficiaries, but we want to do so without placing their capital at significant risk. That constant tension—the worry that you’ve got the allocation choices wrong and the beneficiaries will suffer as a result—that we’ll be too conservative and miss out on maximizing the growth in their assets, or that we’ll be too aggressive and lose capital when we should have seen the warning signs—that can be a big challenge.

CIO: What are you most hopeful about in the future of the industry?

Macready: There’s so much traction around the idea that over the long term (which, as a pension fund, we should care about most), there’s a strong alignment between financial performance and positive non-financial impact. The Sustainable Development Goals have clear investment implications. I’m hopeful that as an industry we can develop our ability to direct capital to those parts of the market that are making money and doing good at the same time—to those parts of the market which over the long term will genuinely prosper both investors and society. I’m excited about a convergence that’s happening between investment markets and the sustainable real economy.

CIO: What are you most cautious about?

Macready: I worry that as an industry we are becoming disconnected from the everyday beneficiaries we serve. We don’t always do a great job of articulating how we help people, and how we support economic growth by directing capital (if we’re doing our jobs well) to those parts of the economy and the market where it can be most productively and effectively utilised to generate growth, leading to better standards of living for all. If we can’t articulate that, I worry that people will just focus on the large amount of rent we as an industry extract on the way through, and we will be at risk of losing our social license to operate.

I also fear that we are becoming increasingly short-term in our focus, even as the time horizons and life expectancies of our beneficiaries should be lengthening. That we, in our market behavior, and our shortening cycles of greed and panic, are making the journey a lot bumpier than it needs to be and wasting a lot of resources in churn in the process.

CIO: As a leader, what are the most important aspects of the industry you hope to change over your career?

Macready: I really hope that in the next 20-30 years we can dispel the notion that you can’t care about impact as a fiduciary; that you have to leave conscience and values at the door. There are deep investment implications to some of the major issues that we currently face as a planet, and these challenges bring about opportunities as well as risks. We have tremendous influence over the direction of society, and a great opportunity to help build a sustainable economy that is able to generate strong returns into the future. And there’s plenty of evidence showing that those kinds of approaches add value over the long run.

CIO: If you had one piece of advice for your peers, what would it be?

Macready: Success is delivering for your beneficiaries, not beating your peers.

CIO: What are the biggest current trends you are seeing that have surprised you?​

Macready: I’m surprised (but pleased) at how long the current bull market has lasted, in a world where there are plenty of reasons to be concerned about downside risks. I’m surprised that Bitcoin has become as big and almost mainstream as it has. And I’ve been astounded just how much and for how long negative yielding sovereign and corporate bonds have lasted.

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