Past, present & future: Q&A with Ian Lundy May 2019

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It's been two months since Ian Lundy moved on from his role as chief investment officer of Tasplan. We ask him what he's planning to do next, and about his work with Wildcare, an organisation that supports volunteers in Tasmania's national parks and bushland. He also reflects on some highlights and challenges of his career so far, his path into the industry and the surreal way he saw in his 32nd year.

Do you have an idea of what you’d like to do next?

I'm talking to a number of super funds, fund managers and others about opportunities. I've also been working on a few research projects, one of which relates to quant investing. Ideally, I'd like the variety of working part-time on a few different roles.

Can you name some career highlights so far?

Being on the board of UTA (Utilities Trust of Australia) during a very challenging time and being part of addressing the problems and changing of investment manager. It took a significant effort from everyone on the board to deal with unhappy investors and change the investment manager. The board was very experienced and I learned so much from my fellow directors along the way.

Another thing that stands out was the incredible amount of positive changes that we achieved at RBF - in the last performance survey prior to the Tasplan merge we were second behind Hostplus. This came from building the team, tightening implementation, many process improvements and some unlisted investments that required significant attention.

"Ideally, I'd like the variety of working part-time on a few different roles."

…and any particular challenges you’ve faced?

The challenges that stand out mostly relate to unlisted assets that got into trouble. They're very time consuming but satisfying when they work out. Refinancing Hobart Airport in 2012 was a big one that took a lot of time and came with plenty of attention in the local media. It was worth all the effort and the asset is now thriving.

What set you on your career path? (Did you always plan to be an investment professional?)

My undergrad studies were in science, maths and stats and my PhD was in probability. I started out working as an educational statistician in Adelaide and London but my heart wasn't in it. I'd always been interested in investing and was motivated by seeing my fellow PhD student Jim Coleman head off to Sydney and get a job in quant investing. My first job in finance was with GMO in 1996 and I've been in the industry ever since.

"I'd always been interested in investing and was motivated by seeing my fellow PhD student head off to Sydney and get a job in quant investing."

What do you think the Morrison Government will mean for the superannuation industry?

It's too early to say. At least there is a minister who appears to have a thorough understanding of the industry. Hopefully, they will address some of the issues that plague super funds at present, to ensure that boards are focussed on member benefit rather than pushing personal and political agendas.

You’ve joined the board of Wildcare. Can you tell us about the organisation and what prompted you to join?

Wildcare supports volunteers in Tasmania's national parks and other bushland. I'd already nominated for this board before I decided to leave Tasplan and the timing is coincidental. Environmental volunteering is something that I'd always done pre-children, everything from picking up rubbish and pulling weeds to bird surveys and radio tracking re-released animals. So this is just re-engaging with that and using my board experience to help the organisation enhance its risk management and build stakeholder relationships.

"In 2000 I took a year off work and travelled from Chennai in India to Dublin without getting on a plane."

Where did you grow up and what was it like?

I grew up in the Adelaide Hills and it was a fantastic place to be a kid but a bit quiet as a teenager. I lived across the road from Belair National Park and spent a huge amount of my afternoons, weekends and school holidays walking and cycling in my 1,000 hectare backyard.

What is something most people wouldn't know about you?

In 2000 I took a year off work and travelled from Chennai in India to Dublin without getting on a plane. I travelled through some amazing places, some of which are no longer safe for travel. Along the way I spent my 32nd birthday sleeping in a yurt high in a nearly deserted mountain valley in Kyrgyzstan having crossed over the border from China earlier that day. Totally surreal and still a very fond memory, as was the whole trip.

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