AIMA Australia Chairman's End of Year Letter 2019

By Alistair Rew, AMP CAPITAL

Published: 19 December 2019

Dr. Alister Rew, AMP Capital

As 2019 comes to a close I wanted to share and recognise the incredible energy and effort that has been put in by you, our members, our Education and Regulatory Committees, the Investor Advisory Group, the recently formed Alternative Credit Council, and the newly established AIMA Australia Women’s Working Group.

In 2019 our membership continued to grow to new heights, we hosted a total of 29 events, attended by nearly 1800 members. As usual a wide range of topics were presented and our Annual Forum recorded its highest ever attendance; a huge success given the incredible growth experienced since it was first established in 2013. Please mark your calendars for the 2020 Forum which will be held on Wednesday 9 September at the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney.

In addition to the ever-expanding calendar of core events, there were multiple firsts in 2019. To mention just a few, in March we launched the Australian chapter of the Alternative Credit Council (ACC), the first local ACC chapter globally – my thanks to all those who are involved with, shaping and driving the ACC – I’m excited about the plans and activities for 2020. In May we launched the inaugural Acorns of Australia, designed to support Australia’s up and coming industry practitioners who are at various stages of their development and operations, addressing topics from the legal tool-box for start-ups, through office set-up, to bringing the business to life. This was a great event that was very well attended and which will be a permanent event going forward. In September we launched the Integrating Portfolio & Risk Management Roundtable series to promote discussions and actionable insights around integrating portfolio and risk management, targeting chief investment officers, portfolio managers and hands-on risk professionals.

And, as promised to you in 2018, we continued our previously established multi-year initiatives, including:

  • Our active engagement with regulators, to ensure strong representation at the regulatory-table on topics that are important to our industry, and members;
  • The Superannuation Trustees Education Forums, to raise awareness of the role and the value that our industry can offer their members;
  • Our Australian based research strategy, led by the Investor Advisory Group, which delivered “Trust but verify” examining the importance of ODD when making an allocation decision;
  • The UNSW FINSOC Women in Finance Mentee program for which the largest group of mentors came from you, our members; and
  • The great work with the Australian Students Asset Management (ASAM) has continued throughout the year with the first strategy going live early 2020.

As always, all these events and initiatives only happen thanks to the continued support of all of you, and the many member firms who host and promote the different events. My thanks to all of you for the success of these events, and if you have any suggestions of topics, or events we should be hosting, then please let us know.

This time last year I made a personal commitment to you all around diversity and inclusion (D&I). I’m delighted to say that we have made meaningful progress, and change, on a host of initiatives throughout 2019. Examples I’m particularly proud of include a review of all our local committees resulting in changes to their composition to improve the diversity and representation of women on these committees and we’ve changed meeting times and structures to promote diversity among attendees allowing greater inclusion. These changes are already bearing fruit. We’ve been targeting greater panel diversity, and remain very focussed on this, across all the events we host. Aligned with our D&I focus, Jack Inglis, AIMA CEO, delivered a key note Forum speech on the importance of D&I for the future of our industry, and in parallel to this I was asked to contribute to the fantastic paper produced by AIMA, supported by E&Y, titled The Alternatives delivering a comprehensive and practical guide to how hedge fund firms, large and small, can improve diversity and inclusion. I would encourage all members to take the time to read it – there is practical advice and action that each of us can commit to undertaking to promote and deliver D&I across our own firms, and our broader industry. Finally, we held our first AIMA Women’s Working Group, which resulted in numerous actions that are already underway, including another inaugural event to support, encourage and develop the ‘next gen’ of our industry, an initiative that we will certainly be expanding on in 2020.

Outside of Australia AIMA continues to go from strength to strength. AIMA has approximately 2,000 corporate members, with over 15,000 member contacts, representing over USD 2 trillion in AUM, clearly underscoring AIMA as the global representative body for the industry.

Once again we don’t intend to rest on our laurels next year, with planning well underway for another fantastic education programme, and multiple events throughout the year. In addition, we will build on the great work that has been done in 2019 around diversity and inclusion.

Our purpose remains one of adding value to our member contacts and member firms. To this end, I share the following points from Alexis N. Kwon, Associate Director, AIMA, who joined AIMA Americas earlier in 2019, and wrote a piece around “a short list of the things I wish I knew about AIMA membership when I was working at a member firm”. The 4 key things were:

  1. There are AIMA staff willing and able to offer you guidance on a practical matter
  2. To see what other firms are doing to meet challenges specific to your role, there are peer groups you can meet / speak with
  3. Topics for research and events are driven by members
  4. Investment manager membership includes access by unlimited staff headcount globally.

I would encourage all of us to leverage the network and benefits of AIMA to their maximum; my suggestion would be ‘feel free to ask AIMA for input and guidance’.

In drawing my update to a close, I once again have a number of thank-yous I must make. First, I would like to thank all the Executive Committee members, the members of the Education & Regulatory subcommittees, the Investor Advisory Group, the Alternative Credit Council and the Women’s Working Group. On behalf of AIMA, I thank you for your valuable input, guidance and the great value you deliver for our members. Second, I’d like to thank all the generous sponsors and service providers who kindly donated time, resources and facilities during the year; such generosity underpins the success of AIMA Australia and the many events that we do hold each year. Third, a huge thank you to Michael Gallagher, Director, General Manager of AIMA Australia. Michael’s energy, commitment, and focus on driving change and promoting our industry, along with making everything happen for AIMA Australia, is simply first rate. Michael’s contribution to the Australian Hedge Fund Industry award at Hedge Fund Rocks in September recognises his commitment and dedication to our industry and broader community, a very worthy winner.

Finally, and most importantly, a huge thank you to all of you for your ongoing support, commitment, encouragement, feedback and insights – AIMA Australia is run by members for our members and none of this exists without our growing and committed member base.

As always, feel free to contact Michael Gallagher [email protected] , or myself, if you have any questions or suggestions.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Kind regards,

Dr Alistair Rew
Chair AIMA Australia