UniSuper scolds Aussie equity fundies

The $80 billion superannuation fund had some strong words for its external Aussie equities managers, saying their general underperformance was a "real disappointment" for the year.

UniSuper's balanced investment option returned 9.9% for the year, as it made big gains from individual stocks: BHP was up 52.2% while ASX and Transurban were up more than 30%.

However, the fund was disappointed with the underperformance of external Aussie equities managers and sent three of them packing.

"The real disappointment for the year was the general under-performance of our external managers of Australian share portfolios, with most of them failing to beat their benchmarks," the fund said in an investment update posted on its website.

UniSuper said it now manages most of our Australian exposures in-house but it does outsource a significant component to external managers.

"Over a long period, this has proven to be a value-adding exercise and we expect that will continue to be the case," it said.

"We did, however, run out of patience and terminated three of them (out of 14). The investment profession can be rewarding when things are going well, but tough when they aren't."

UniSuper has built up a team of about 50 investment professionals from none almost eight years ago, chief investment officer John Pearce said in an interview last year.

It is managing 65% of its investments in-house. Most core assets classes like global and Aussie equities, Aussie fixed income, Aussie property and cash are managed in-house.

Pearce then said the in-housing of investments hasn't been a grand plan, but has been shaped by the investment talent that comes on the market.

"We probably put on half a dozen staff in the last three to four years. So it hasn't expanded as fast as the assets have expanded and that is because we are running a very scalable model," he said.

"We don't have any grand plans. The way we built out the team, I use the term logical incrementalism. We just sort of do things that make sense in an incremental way."

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