Cbus Super chief to exit

David Atkin will leave as the $57 billion superannuation fund's chief executive later this year after 12 years in the role.

Atkin steered Cbus as it grew from just $12 billion in assets under management, adopted a more comprehensive approach to reporting and delivered best-of-the-league 10-year MySuper returns.

He will stay with the fund until late August as it undertakes an "extensive executive search" to find a replacement for his role.

"David has been chief executive of Cbus for over a third of its existence and over that time the fund has become an industry leader and a sophisticated global investor," Cbus chair Steve Bracks said.

"While we are obviously very disappointed to see David move on, we congratulate him for his achievements and his dedicated service to the men and women of the building and construction industry."

Atkin grew up in Papua New Guinea and while at university, wrote a research paper on how unions use masculinity to create hierarchies, Financial Standard reported in a 2014 profile of him. He spent a decade working in trade unions before taking up a job as a communications officer at AustralianSuper's predecessor Superannuation Trust of Australia (STA).

He joined Cbus in 2008 and had previously served as the chief executive of Emergency Services and State Super (ESSS Super) and Just Super (now Media Super).

His last year at the fund saw Cbus enter corporate superannuation designed for employers with 50 or more employees, make its first increase to administration fees in a decade and start to offer bonuses to nudge its retirement members away from account-based pensions and towards retirement income streams.

In recent months, Atkin has also spoken about the flaws in CIPRs legislation and the fund's stance that retirement products must give trustees the discretion to tailor them for their members' needs.

"Cbus members fought for and won the right to superannuation at time when super was only for white collar professionals," Atkin said in a statement.

"Throughout my time at the fund I have been determined to make sure that we fulfil our members' vision, and we are well and truly on the right track."

"The fundamentals of Cbus are as strong as ever and now is the right time to hand over the reins to a new leader," he added.

"The timing is right for the next chief executive to take the fund forward."

The next chief executive

Atkin informed Bracks of his decision to leave last week, giving the fund additional two months of notice than the six months required per his employment terms.

As of yesterday evening, the board had shortlisted three executive search firms to scout for Atkin's replacement, and is expected to select one next week.

Bracks said Cbus will look internally, externally as well as overseas for Atkin's replacement.

"Our executive team are very capable and those wish to put themselves forward will be considered for the role. Kristian [Fok] will be one of those who could put themselves forward but we haven't had that conversation yet," Bracks told Financial Standard.

The fund does not have an official deputy chief executive officer role.

In the past, in periods of Atkin's absence, chief investment officer Kristian Fok, chief financial officer Keith Wells-Jansz, group executive of brand, advocacy and product Robbie Campo, group executive, people, technology and enablement  Michelle Boucher and most others from its six-strong executive lineup have acted in the role, Bracks said.

He said Cbus's three main priorities for the year ahead will be furthering the internalisation of its investment capabilities, strengthening its employee and member engagement functions which it has brought in house and weighing potential mergers with other funds.

Read more: CbusDavid AtkinCbus SuperSteve Bracks
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