"Successful investment is all about focus and strategic insight": Q&A with Anna Shelley July 2018

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Catholic Super announced last week that Anna Shelley has been appointed as the fund's new chief investment officer. Anna shares with Industry Moves what attracted her to the role and her early experience of stock-picking. She also tells us about the investment philosophy she shares with outgoing CIO, Garrie Lette; how a career in investment combines her "two great loves"; and what she believes is key to addressing the industry's gender imbalance.

What drew you to the world of finance?

My Dad was a big influence on me. He was a stockbroker and he gave my sister and I a tiny amount of money to buy shares when I was about 11 and we had to read the newspaper every weekend, look at all the stock prices and make decisions about them. We lost half our money in the 1987 crash! What a great lesson. Dad died when I was 19, and even though I was studying Arts/Science at University, I decided I really wanted to work in investment – it seemed like a great combination of Maths and Psychology, which I guess were (and still are) my two great loves.

What attracted you to take up the role at CSF?

Being able to positively influence the retirement outcomes of 75,000 members. In addition, CSF’s values of Integrity and Humility really resonated with me, as did the opportunity to work as part of a great investment team.

"If the royal commission has shown us anything, it is that 60+ hour weeks and highly paid Directors do not guarantee you get the important things right."

CSF boasts more women than men in the investment team. How do you think the industry as a whole can better encourage workplace diversity; especially in senior roles?

There is still an unacknowledged and negative bias around part time work in the industry, a view that you can’t possibly be across markets unless you’re full-time. This is nonsense. Successful investment is all about focus and strategic insight – if the royal commission has shown us anything, it is that 60+ hour weeks and highly paid Directors do not guarantee you get the important things right. We have two part-time investment professionals in our team (one male, one female) and they are brilliant – and for anyone else out there who thinks that sounds good, our door is open!

What lessons will you take from your predecessor, Garrie Lette?

Garrie has been a very successful investment leader at CSF and I have been fortunate to inherit an investment portfolio that is in fantastic shape, with a diverse and talented team researching and managing it. I think Garrie and I share many aspects of investment philosophy, one of those being very conscious about where you can add value and where you can’t, and being prepared to be different.

Where did you grow up and what was it like?

In Blackburn, Melbourne, a pretty typical suburb, where everyone walked to primary school, played a lot of sport and knew all their neighbours. It was a very happy, healthy childhood.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Never forget the privilege of investing other people’s money.

If you were not in finance, where would you be?

Medicine

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