Against the odds: Shining a light on the women at the top in financial services

Thursday 21st September 2017

Women at the top

With an analytical eye, Industry Moves has been viewing its data vault since 2013, to find out how the industry's women fare when it comes to CEO appointments. Below is a snapshot of our research and a look back at some of the impressive women who have been awarded the top job!


198.........CEO appointments since 2013
31............awarded to females
Of these 31...
29%.........were awarded by Super Funds Investment Management firms Industry Associations
2017........has been the best year yet - with 8 female CEO appointments so far

Women at the top

Pauline Vamos - CEO, Regnan
July 2017 - Present

Pauline Vamos In July 2017, industry veteran Pauline Vamos was appointed as the new head of Australian ESG at research and engagement provider, Regnan. She replaced Amanda Wilson, who left in February 2017 following over six years in the role. When we asked Pauline to share her best piece of advice for an industry newcomer she said: "Be flexible, work out your noble purpose, always know you will never know everything and never burn your bridges – the industry is very small!" Read Pauline's full Q&A.

Wendy Tancred - CEO, Mercy Super
May 2017 - Present

Wendy Tancred After "totally failing at retirement", and following six years on various super fund boards, Wendy Tancred took on the role of CEO at Mercy Super in May 2017, replacing Neil Sheppard. On the subject of effective leadership Wendy told Industry Moves that the key elements are: "Relationship and communication skills, being authentic and human, and resilience."
Read Wendy's full Q&A.

Annick Donat - CEO, Madison Financial Group
March 2017 - Present

Annick Donat BT Financial Group's former head of licensee development, Annick Donat, was "handed the baton of responsibility" in March 2017 as the new CEO of Madison Financial Group. When we spoke with Annick at the time of her appointment she said: "We work in a male dominated industry, embracing femininity is powerful." Read Annick's full Q&A.

Rachel Farrell - CEO, J.P. Morgan
January 2017 - Present

Rachel Farrell

In January 2017 Rachel Farrell took on a newly-created role as CEO and country head of global investment management (GIM) Australia at J.P. Morgan. Prior to this she spent three years as the firm's head of sovereign and institutional, Asia Pacific ex-Japan. At the time of her appointment she told Industry Moves: "Having worked with amazing colleagues from every corner of the world, I am a strong believer that diversity is critical to the success of our business." Read Rachel's full Q&A.

Linda Vickers - CEO, BUSSQ
October 2016 - Present

Linda Vickers In an executive reshuffle at BUSSQ in October 2016, Linda Vickers moved from the role of COO, at the then $3 billion super fund, to take over as CEO from David O'Sullivan who, in turn, moved into the role of CIO. Linda first joined the fund in 1998 as risk & compliance manager before being appointed as COO in 2013.

Lisa Gray - CEO, VFMC
February 2016 - Present

Lisa Gray In February 2016, after 12 years with NAB, Lisa Gray joined VFMC as CEO. She took over from Justin Pascoe who had been acting in the role since the departure of Warren Lee in October 2015. VFMC chair James MacKenzie said at the time: “Lisa is an outstanding senior financial services executive who brings to VFMC a wealth of experience across banking, insurance and superannuation together with excellent strategic skills and a track record of team leadership and stakeholder engagement."

Jo Townsend - CEO, Funds SA
April 2015 - Present

Jo Townsend In April 2015, Jo Townsend left Sydney and her role as GM, Investment at REST to take on the role of CEO for Funds SA, replacing Richard Smith. When asked what drew her to the role, she told Industry Moves: "Professionally, it was the opportunity to take on a CEO role at a substantial funds management organisation that is highly regarded. Personally, the whole family is very excited about moving to the beautiful city of Adelaide." Read Jo's full Q&A.

Debby Blakey - CEO, HESTA
February 2015 - Present

Debby Blakey After joining HESTA in 2008 and serving as deputy CEO to long-serving CEO, Anne-Marie Corby, Debbie Blakey took over as CEO of the then $40 billion super fund in February 2015. At the time of her appointment she spoke fondly of her predecessor and said: "Not only is Anne-Marie a strong leader, but her passion for building a team environment and empowering others is phenomenal. I hope to continue her legacy by empowering others to achieve great things." Read Debby's Q&A.

Allison Hill - CEO, DMP Asset Management
November 2014 - Present

Allison Hill In November 2014, after nearly 11 years as an investment consultant with Frontier Advisors, Allison Hill was appointed as CEO of DMP Asset Management. She told Industry Moves at the time: "The investments and superannuation markets are constantly changing, creating many challenges and providing a very interesting and dynamic industry to work in. I am really looking forward to joining a strong company with a clear goal and working together to continue to build and grow the company." Read Allison's Q&A.

Heather Brilliant - CEO, Morningstar
April 2014 - September 2017

Heather Brilliant

Heather Brilliant was appointed as the CEO of Morningstar in 2014 replacing Anthony Serhan. In September this year, Morningstar announced that Heather was stepping down to take on the role of managing director, Americas with CFSGAM/First State Investments based in New York. Morningstar's CEO, Kunal Kapoor, said of her departure: “I would like to thank Heather for her numerous contributions to our business over the years. She leaves Morningstar Australasia well positioned for its next phase of growth.”

Susan Roberts - CEO, Lazard
May 2013 - April 2016

Susan Roberts Lazard Asset Management appointed Susan Roberts as CEO of its Asia Pacific business in May 2013, replacing Rob Prugue. She spent three years in the role before leaving to pursue board opportunities. She first joined Lazard in 2001 as the firm's head of sales management and in 2005 was appointed MD, head of relationship management and marketing. Rob resumed leadership responsibilities following her departure.

Debora Jackson - CEO, TWUSuper
January 2013 - December 2013

Debora Jackson Debora Jackson was the member strategy manager at transport industry and logistics super fund, TWUSuper, before being appointed as CEO in January 2013, following Bill McMillin's departure. She spent just under 12 months in the top job and is now a non-executive director on three boards.

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