Australia’s highest paid Industry Super executives revealed in Yellow Folder’s latest Executive Index

Click to view full table: YF Index Feb 24 – Pay for Industry Super Executives

Australia’s highest paid Industry Super executives have been revealed in Yellow Folder Research’s latest Executive Index, showcasing the leadership and pay priorities of the for-purpose segment that holds $1.3 trillion in member funds.

Mark Delaney, AustralianSuper’s Chief Investment Officer (CIO) and Deputy Chief Executive Officer, topped the list as the only executive paid over $2 million. Yellow Folder assembled this data from the latest round of financial reporting, with remuneration captured for the year to 30 June 2023.

In second and third places were the CIOs of UniSuper (John Pearce) and AwareSuper (Damian Graham), reflecting the central role of investment returns for these funds. The top three remained unchanged from the previous financial year.

Rounding out the top five were the highest paid CEOs, who were in fourth and fifth places overall, namely Host Plus’ David Ella and AustralianSuper’s Paul Schroder.

Fund size clearly played a significant role in driving pay, but it was not one-for-one. Australia’s second largest fund, the Australian Retirement Trust, only appears at eleventh place, with CIO Ian Patrick paid $1.2 million. This finding may be contingent on the fact  the fund was only formed in early 2022, following the merger of Sunsuper and QSuper.

Yellow Folder Research’s Managing Director, Julian Doherty, said their regular Executive Index is part of a series that highlights significant underlying trends in today’s economy by analysing  top executives of Australian companies.

“Our latest release showcases the key executives who hold great responsibility in their positions, being required to make decisions that affect the retirement savings of all Australians.

“Our data adds to the debate around whether this level of remuneration is fair, whether the financial year  2023 increases are justified and whether total pay is appropriately balanced towards variable pay.”

Further key insights revealed:

  • The top 25 were paid $28.5 million in total for the 2023 financial year, averaging $1.1 million each.
  • Variable remuneration, or incentive driven pay, accounted for 22.4% ($6.4 million) of the total paid to the 25 individuals, with the proportion earned by each person varying dramatically from 0% to 53.7% of total remuneration (UniSuper’s CIO, John Pearce).
  • Variable remuneration was also weighted towards the short term, with 19 of the 25 earning some sort of short-term incentive for the financial year. In contrast, only five individuals – four of whom worked for Aware Super – were paid a long-term incentive.
  • Despite lagging behind CIOs on total pay, CEOs enjoyed some strong gains in remuneration from the financial year 2022 to financial year 2023. For the Top 10, the largest annual increases were enjoyed by David Elia (CEO, Hostplus – up 16.3%), Deanne Stewart (CEO, AwareSuper – up 20.1%) and Debby Blakey (CEO, Hesta – up 25.8%).
  • Unlike the other Industry Supers in the Top 10, HostPlus paid their CEO David Elia more than his CIO Sam Sicilia, by $271.7k in total remuneration.
  • The highest paid executive that was not a CIO or CEO is Peter Curtis, AustralianSuper’s Chief Operating Officer, remunerated at $1.0 million for the 2023 financial year.

Yellow Folder is an Australian consulting firm operating at the forefront of market trends, providing market insights, succession planning, and remuneration intelligence advice to boards and executives that helps their businesses gain a competitive edge.

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