Each year we publish an Annual Report for the Guardians and Fund. Included in this report is a Statement of Performance, which sets out how we performed against the strategic objectives set out in our Statement of Intent and annual Statement of Performance Expectations.
Our Annual Reports describe how the Fund has performed relative to its benchmarks, and give a breakdown of how the Guardians' active investment decisions have added value during the year. They also include a detailed overview of our governance and risk management processes, a dedicated responsible investment report, and a list of the external managers and custodians we used during the year.
As part of our commitment to best practice disclosure we index our reports against the Global Reporting Initiative criteria.
Annual Reports cover the year ended 30 June and are usually published the following October.
Stakeholder feedback on our reports is welcome and can be sent to [email protected].
Annual Report 2021
I am pleased to present the Guardians’ Annual Report for the 2020/21 financial year.
The past year has seen both the NZ Super Fund and the Elevate NZ Venture Fund perform well. Amid the upheaval and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, we maintained our discipline, trusting in our investment beliefs and the strength of our endowments as investors, and supported our team to balance work and family demands.
In this Annual Report, we explain the drivers behind the Fund’s long-term investment performance. Central to this is our choice of Reference Portfolio, which sets the Fund’s overall level of market risk.
Paired with strong governance and carefully calibrated investment frameworks, our decision to take market risk over an extended period has paid off in the form of strong returns, averaging more than 10% per year. This has set us on the path towards fulfilling our long-term purpose of supporting New Zealanders in their retirement. To date, this approach has contributed more than $39 billion above the cost of Government borrowing, adding significantly to New Zealand’s financial wellbeing.
On pages 34 – 38 of the Annual Report, we explain that our choice of Reference Portfolio, made up of 80% global equities and 20% global bonds, and 100% hedged to the New Zealand dollar, has generated an estimated $10 billion more in returns than a standard 60:40, 50% hedged alternative would have done (figures from July 2010, when the Reference Portfolio was introduced, to 30 June 2021).
In the short-term, because of the high proportion of equities in the Reference Portfolio, we may experience considerable volatility in our investment returns. Due to the Fund’s long-term investing horizon, we have the ability to ride out and potentially benefit from these short-term market movements. Taking more risk, while it has led to some bumps along the way, has paid off over time.
Beyond the decision to take that level of market risk, our active management of the portfolio has added more than $10 billion of additional value since the Fund’s inception.
Elsewhere in the Report, we discuss how our investment and organisational strategies are helping to sustain this performance across the long-term metrics that matter most.
This includes the review of our Responsible Investment Strategy undertaken during the year. The review was an extensive and considered reflection on how we maintain our leadership position in this area and retain the confidence of our stakeholders, while ensuring we continue to meet our commercial mandate.
This Annual Report provides further detail on what was the foremost outcome of this review, our shift towards sustainable finance. As we look to form our new Sustainable Finance Strategy, we will be thinking harder about the impact of our investments on society and the environment, and how we can contribute towards the development of a sustainable financial system.
Other report highlights include:
- We provide a breakdown of various ways we are invested in our home market of New Zealand (pages 46 – 48).
- We explain our approach, as active asset owners, to engagement and exclusion (pages 62 – 65).
- We detail progress made across a number of multi-year enterprise-based initiatives focused on technology, data, systems and processes (pages 106 – 107).
- We spotlight several high-quality new team members we welcomed over the financial year, and detail the positive contributions they have made (pages 21, 24, 39, 41, 47, 48 and 50).
Noho ora mai rā,
Chief Executive Officer
Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation