NZ Super drops Fisher Funds after four years

By Tamsyn Parker

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund has dropped Fisher Funds as an investment manager.

Fisher Funds was selected to manage money on behalf of the Super Fund in December 2003 but, yesterday, the guardians of the fund said the relationship had ended due to the size of its investment and the divergent objectives of the two businesses.

"Over recent years, Fisher Funds has built a successful retail funds management organisation. Their investment mandate has also been successful for the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. However, as the guardians have grown into a large-scale institutional investor, the commercial drivers of the two businesses have diverged."

Fisher Funds managed around $100 million of the $13.2 billion which the the New Zealand Super Fund has to invest. The Super Fund will now take over managing the Fisher Funds portion.

Fisher Funds managing director Carmel Fisher said she had been in talks with the guardians about ending the contract for around a year as the amount of money it managed on behalf of the Super Fund had made it harder to take on more retail investors - its primary goal.

In October, Fisher Funds closed its three New Zealand investment funds to retail investors because it had reached the limit at which it could comfortably manage the money.

Fisher said the decision had not sat well with its retail investors and the company had come under pressure to take more money from its mum and dad clients as they saw opportunities to invest in the current volatile market.

As a result of the parting, Fisher Funds has re-opened its flagship New Zealand Growth, Premium NZ Fund and Fledgling Fund to investors.

Fisher manages around $400 million across the three funds - just under half of the total money it has under management. Fisher said she would now be looking to increase that by $150 million.

A spokeswoman for the New Zealand Super Fund said there was no timeframe on the in-house management of the Fisher Funds portion of the portfolio and confirmed it was the only securities portfolio managed in-house.

She said the decision was consistent with the fund's mandate to maximise returns without undue risk to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

The fund will continue to outsource its other New Zealand investments.

The Super Fund was set up in 2001 to help provide for the future costs of retirement for New Zealand's ageing population and began investing in 2003.

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