Episode 91: Celebrating 20 Years of NZ Super

In Conversation with CEO Matt Whineray

This year, New Zealand Super celebrates its 20th year. We speak to the fund’s CEO, Matt Whineray, about the evolution of the fund throughout the years, do a deep dive into its strategic tilting program and cover responsible investing, AI and much more. Enjoy the show!

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Overview of Podcast with Matt Whineray, CEO of NZ Super on 20 years of the fund

01:00 NZ Super started investing in September 2003 and now has a 20 year track record
03:00 One of the key starting points was to get the risk position right and get the board to understand this position
04:30 The 20 year track record: the country is about $40 billion better off as a result of the creation of the fund
07:00 The fund invested in private equity only two years after the beginning.
8:30 The strategic tilting program; the philosophy behind it and the early days
14:00 There are times when you get tested and 2013 was one of those times
15:30 I borrowed this one from [AQR’s] Cliff Asness: ‘Don’t size a strategy so that when it goes wrong you are dead’.
18:30 The amount of risk that we allocate to our strategic tilting process is definitely the highest of all of our internal strategies
20:30 The strategic tilting program has evolved from trading once a month to trading every day, sometimes multiple times a day
22:00 Introducing the reference portfolio; the beauty about the reference portfolio is that there is real clarity about the decisions that are being made
26:00 Since inception the decision was made that we always hedge the reference portfolio 100 per cent back to NZ dollars, and that is one that is always debated at reference portfolio reviews
28:00 Managing NZ equities in-house
31:00 What else do we do internally? Portfolio completion credit strategies, direct investment and strategic tilting
33:00 Embracing responsible investing
36:00 There is no downside to us helping our friends in the region
37:00 Preparing for the drawdown period
41:00 New Zealand Super has been experimenting with an AI portfolio. What is this?
44:00 Leaving the fund after 15 years and Matt’s favourite moments with the fund
45:30 Early 2020, I had a radio interview where I was telling the interviewer that we just went from $48 to $35 billion. The fact I could say that is a testament to our stakeholder management and the education we’ve done along the way


[i3] Insights is the official educational bulletin of the Investment Innovation Institute [i3]. It covers major trends and innovations in institutional investing, providing independent and thought-provoking content about pension funds, insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds across the globe. The [i3] podcast is available on iTunesGoogle PodcastSpotifyAmazon MusicStitcher or your favourite podcast platform.