Featured Profile: Scott Tully
Knowledge in numbers
In his first job, Scott Tully received 20 cents for every race program sold on Mount Panorama. Some 40 years later he oversees more than $120 billion in investments at Colonial First State. Kanika Sood writes.

Colonial First State is among the best performing superannuation funds in Australia. And general manager of investments Scott Tully and his 17-person team are the ones who can take credit.

Tully and his team determine the asset allocation for portfolios and then select the investment managers to implement them.

NewCo will be out there as a separate entity and regardless of the demerger, our challenge will be to make that business successful for us, for members and shareholders in a world that is increasingly competitive.
And the performance tables show it is working. According to SelectingSuper, FirstChoice Lifestage was the second-best default lifestage workplace offering for the three years to 31 January 2019, calculated for a 40 year old man.

Tully joined Colonial First State in 2002, two years after it became part of Commonwealth Bank and around the same time it merged with Commonwealth Investment Management.

In the 17 years since, CFS's FirstChoice platform has grown to $90 billion while CFS Wrap platform has $30 billion in assets under administration. Tully built the Realindex business, driven by a demand for low-cost investing solutions. It recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary and amassed over $26 billion in funds under management.

In 2013, CFS switched its default super to life stage, setting up 11 different asset allocations based on members' age. It has since added another lifestage option for younger members entering the workforce.

He came to Colonial First State via a childhood in the country, a math degree in Sydney and actuarial jobs in superannuation and investments.

The oldest of three siblings, Tully's father was a land valuer for the Rural Bank of NSW and his mother a housewife, both very active in the community. He excelled at school, coming top of his class.

"I am on a board somewhere in primary school or high school but it was a very small school," he says. "I wasn't a bad kid; there is no story of redemption here."

Growing up, his family moved around country New South Wales during his childhood and he spent a lot of time outdoors, riding his bike and playing tennis and baseball.

"Every place I stayed in as a child had something famous going for it," he says. "Deniliquin now has a ute festival, Tamworth had the music festival and Bathurst had the races," he says.

It was during a Bathurst 1000 race weekend that Tully, aged 11, secured his first job selling race programs.

"You stand beside the road; you have a big bunch of programs and you sell them. In the first year they were $2 each and you got 20 cents for each one. I think I made 25 bucks that first year," he recalls.

"But you would be up the top of the mountain and you would be walking through all these guys who have been drinking all day. After the races, there were thousands of tinnies just lying around, and you would have a bag and you would pick them all up for some extra cash."

Other unmemorable jobs included driving a tractor through a cauliflower field at a mile-an-hour as a 14 year old while someone sat in the back planting seeds. He lasted three days.

At 17, having finished his HSC exams, Tully picked asparagus, a job that lasted "maybe a little longer."

Later, he took a management reporting job where he collected and collated information.

"I did it for about six months and I don't think anyone cared about it," he says.

"I am not very good at sequential process. I like to know what I think the solution is and then test that."

He soon moved to Sydney to study a bachelor in science, majoring in math - which he terms a more broad-based degree.

"I was thinking of doing actuarial studies but decided that maybe that was a bit too specific. But I knew I was not going to be a doctor or a lawyer," he says.

"This is something I say to my daughter too: Do a broader degree. Do something you are interested in. Don't think you are going to know where you want to go."

Luckily for Tully, in his third year at university Mercer came calling, offering actuarial jobs in superannuation. He snapped one up.

It was 1989 and the superannuation industry was still in its infancy. His next role found him at the State Bank of NSW - since merged with CBA - where he learnt more about understanding how the finance system works.

"Then eventually those two threads came together the link between superannuation and the financial markets and risk management tied it all up," he says.

"When the role at CFS back in 2002 came up, it allowed me to use what I had learned to that date in a quite fulfilling way."

CFS has a full calendar for 2019. The business is set to demerge from Commonwealth Bank as part of a separate entity later in the year, CFS has some work to do following its appearance at the Royal Commission.

But for Tully, the focus will be on ensuring the investment portfolios and strategies are fit for purpose.

"When we built the glide paths leading to 2013, we were operating in a more theoretical environment than today. Now we have much better information about our members," he says.

"What we are planning to do over [the first half of 2019] is determine whether that glide path needs adjusting or tweaking to make sure it is still appropriate. Potentially, people are retiring a little later than they were five years ago - those sorts of things."

Colonial First State Global Asset Management, which is one of CFS's six strategic investment partners and holds a sizeable chunk of funds on FirstChoice platform, will be sold to Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation (MUTB) around June.

Tully says the investment agreement with CFSGAM will continue under its new owner and, if anything, CFS's investment function will become more central to the business.

In the lead up to the sale, CFS separated product and investment duties among its top executives. Tully's reporting line and job title changed and he now reports to executive general manager Linda Elkins instead of  Peter Chun.

"What [the demerger] means for us is that NewCo will be out there as a separate entity and regardless of the demerger, our challenge will be to make that business successful for us, for members and shareholders in a world that is increasingly competitive."

Outside of work, not a great deal has changed for Tully since childhood.

"I think most of our life outside work is centered on, not high-level sport, but just a lot of sport," he says.

He coaches his daughter's baseball team and sits on the board of the Sydney South Hockey Association. His wife runs a local sports club.

Sport plays a big role in his life. His other interests include watching sport and playing sport.

"You could say travelling and all those sorts of usual cliches. When I say sport, I mean it's the community around it," he says.

Tully has two daughters, aged 18 and 15. The older one is in her first year at university while the younger daughter topped her year in maths at a selective high school.

"My wife and I both have degrees in maths; her parents were both maths teachers, so my daughters probably didn't have much of a chance," he laughs.

"But it's not like we sit at home doing math problems. Oh well, sometimes we do."

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