Bernard Reilly named Fund Executive of the Year

By Andrew McKean

The chief executive of Australia's second-largest industry superannuation fund has taken out the FEAL Fund Executive of the Year award.

Australian Retirement Trust chief executive Bernard Reilly has received the accolade, recognised for his role in the merger of Sunsuper and QSuper, which led to the formation of ART.

FEAL chair Brian Delaney said: "Bernard's leadership has taken two already strong funds that were locally focussed through a complex and high-stakes merger process to create a fund that now ranks as one of the largest pension funds."

Similarly, ART chair Andrew Fraser commended Reilly for overseeing what he termed "the biggest and most complex merger in Australian superannuation history" upon assuming the role of chief executive at Sunsuper.

"The merger of these two funds brought many challenges owing to their significant size, distinct histories, different operating models, and diverse member profiles, all compounded by the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic," Fraser said.

"Amidst this challenging environment, Bern demonstrated exceptional leadership by adeptly navigating the complexities and successfully launching ART. Despite the hurdles of evolving work practices, geopolitical tensions, and natural disasters, such as the devastating Brisbane floods, Bern's resilience and competence prevailed, resulting in the successful launch of ART."

Fraser further complemented Reilly for his understanding of global asset management and extensive experience in superannuation, funds management, and enterprise-wide changes.

T. Rowe Price head of distribution for Australia Darren Hall congratulated Reilly on receiving the honour in recognition of his vision and adaptability in leading the complex merger that formed ART.

"Despite a challenging environment, Bernard kept an innovative, member-focused approach guiding ART's launch and growth. His leadership embodies the spirit of the award," Hall said.

The merger between Sunsuper and QSuper involved the collaboration of over 2500 team members, the inception of a new investment strategy, and the roll-out of a refreshed brand.

Today, ART manages over $240 billion in assets, serving 2.2 million members.