New Chief Investment Officer - a natural fit

When she was 11, Anna Shelley’s stockbroker father gave his two daughters a small amount of money to buy shares.

Each weekend they read the newspaper, looked at all the stock prices and made decisions about what shares to buy, then whether to hold them, sell them, and/or buy something else.

Their confidence was just starting to build when the stock market crash of 1987 hit and the girls lost half their money. But they kept at it, and continued to invest their savings into adulthood.

This early life lesson sparked Anna’s interest in investment and has led to a career spanning 20 years to date, culminating in her latest move to the position of Chief Investment Officer at CSF. She becomes one of only eight women in the top 55 performing super funds to hold the position.

Anna is also only the third CIO in the 47-year history of CSF, following on from the highly-regarded Garrie Lette, who is retiring after leading CSF’s investment team for the past eight years with excellent results.

Anna will now lead an investment team that is also female-dominated – another rarity in the funds management industry.

Perplexed about the relatively small number of women in leadership positions in funds management, Anna thinks more work needs to be done by the industry to encourage diversity in the workplace.

“We don’t seem to have problems attracting equal numbers of males and females to the industry, but we do seem to have a problem retaining them in the industry long enough so that they can become CEO’s and CIOs,” she says.

“Around that middle level management we appear to lose a lot of women. You could speculate that was due to having children or family reasons, but I’m not sure that’s entirely true.”

And as a mother of three young children, Anna is an example of someone who has made it work. She paraphrases American investor Warren Buffett, saying in life you want to find a few things and do them very well.

“I think there’s a common perception in the investment industry that you have to be on top of markets 24-7 and that can put a lot of women off – and probably men as well, to be honest,” she says.

“But I think it’s about focusing onthe real investment opportunities, being open to them in the first place and recognising them when they come.”

She also stresses the importance of diversity in the workplace, saying it can be a strong advantage in investment.

“Inclusive diversity of thought is such a key component to any team that wishes to excel.  It’s really about harnessing the unique strengths and passions that we all have and being aware of, but not stressing too much about the weaknesses,” she says. 

“I’m delighted that our investment team at CSF already has great diversity and an inclusive culture that harnesses individual strengths.” 

Having held senior leadership positions at JANA investment advisers, MLC and Perpetual before  joining CSF, Anna says she feels ‘extremely privileged’ to join the $9.5 billion top-performing fund. She was attracted to the way CSF embodies its values, particularly those of integrity, trust and humility.

“I’d heard a lot about the broader CSF organisation and the culture and the people, and that definitely attracted me,” she says.

“I have been lucky enough to work with and interview many hundreds of investment managers over the years, many of the best in the world, and have had a chance to see their different strengths and weaknesses. 

“CSF’s values, combined with the team’s passion, discipline and focus, provide an excellent platform for a successful investment culture,” she says.  

CEO of CSF, Frank Pegan, said there had been an exhaustive recruitment process and Anna stood out because she had strong business experience as well as embodying the organisation’s values.

“She was more than just investments. That is her key attribute and skill area, but she has worked in key executive positions. So what she brought to the table was additional skillsets that complemented the investment process,” he says.