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Highly experienced Australian investment industry executive Jo Townsend is set to take the reins of NZ's $70 billion Super Fund from next month

Business / news
Highly experienced Australian investment industry executive Jo Townsend is set to take the reins of NZ's $70 billion Super Fund from next month
Jo Townsend is the new CEO of the NZ Super Fund.

What's been a fairly lengthy search to find a new person to run our $70 billion retirement fund has ended with the appointment of Jo Townsend as Chief Executive of the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation, the Crown entity that manages the NZ Super Fund.

Townsend - an external appointment - is described as a highly-experienced CEO with a 30-year career in the Australian investment sector. 

She starts next month as the permanent replacement for Matt Whineray who resigned last year after five years in the job.

The Super Fund was set up over 20 years ago to assist with New Zealand's future pension requirements.

Guardians Chair John Williamson said Townsend had most recently led the transformation of the South Australian state government's Funds SA – an AU$40 billion institutional investor of public sector funds – "where she oversaw a significant growth in that organisation’s capabilities".

“Jo is a proven people leader with a track record of developing high-performing teams, attracting talent and building strong stakeholder relationships.

“As the first externally-appointed CEO since Adrian Orr in 2007, Jo will bring a fresh industry perspective and considerable experience to the Guardians.  We believe she is the right person to lead us into the future.”

Townsend is “absolutely thrilled" to be joining the Guardians.

"The NZ Super Fund is known and respected globally as a high-performing institutional investor. The Guardians’ purpose – sustainable investment delivering strong returns for all New Zealanders – sums up the importance of the Fund to the country.”

Whineray departed from the job prior to Christmas 2023 and since then  Paula Steed has been Acting CEO, and will continue till Townsend arrives.

Williamson said Steed had "made a superb contribution" as Acting CEO "and her efforts in maintaining momentum on our key strategic initiatives during this time have been deeply appreciated by the Board".

The statement from NZ Super said that Townsend was CEO of Funds SA between 2015 and 2023. 

Prior to 2015, she held various roles at REST Industry Super, one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, including as General Manager, Investments and Acting Chief Operating Officer.

Earlier in her career she held investment roles at NGS Super, Retirement Benefits Fund, Value Capital Management and Rothschild Australia Asset Management. 

She has a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and finance from the University of Technology Sydney, is a Certified Investment Management Analyst, and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is also an independent member of the Investment Advisory Committee of the Australian Olympic Foundation.

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I would much prefered to have have seen a Kiwi in this role. Kiwi's cannot work for the Australian Govt unless Citizens and surely a global search would have produced an impressive short list of talnted Kiwi's who would move home for such a high profile role?






No doubt she'll have free flights to Oz every week-end courtesy NZ Super Fund and probably 3 day week-ends at that.


My guess is she will live in nz.. Buy a home and enjoy any tax free gains that might be made when she eventually sells  and moves back to Oz