Climate change and member outcomes for the win

25 October 2019

Design, innovation, and implementing climate change initiatives have led Cbus Superannuation’s head of infrastructure, Diana Callebaut, to win Money Management and Super Review’s Investment Professional of the Year award. 

Over the last year, Callebaut has notably achieved strong risk-adjusted returns that are 350bps above the benchmark and has managed to reduce the fund’s member fees by up to 30bps per annum.

She also led the Utilities Trust of Australia portfolio management Investor review in collaboration with other superannuation funds, resulting in up to $50 million in annual savings for all investors. 

Callebaut said she was able to achieve these results through collaboration with other investors, the board, a robust review process with a diverse set of stakeholders with a lot of uncertainty. 

“It was about navigating uncertainty and always keeping the end goal which was driving value for all investors in focus.”

Callebaut also lead the fund’s first investment in the climate change portfolio, targeting generation assets in the UK, Europe and the USA, and completed Cbus’ first

Australian direct renewables investment in Bright Energy Investments, alongside the Dutch Infrastructure Fund and Synergy. 

“It provides strong risk-adjusted returns. We believe mitigating climate change is a growing thematic and expect more capital will be deployed in this area to manage what we see as a significant risk,” she said. 

“It is part of a broader initiative across the various portfolios which is not exclusive to infrastructure.”

A supporting letter for her entry stated that Callebaut also took the time to nurture and empower her team. 

“My leadership approach is to set the parameters for the team to work with but let them determine how they feel is best to achieve the objectives that are set for their particular roles and for us as a team,” Callebaut said. 

While she noted that in the past she felt that her gender had been a disadvantage, Callebaut said she overcame this by working harder and achieving better results to land her senior roles.

“The legacy I’d like to leave is that younger women will not have to perform better just because of prejudices and unconscious bias,” she said.

“I’d like women and men to feel they can perform their roles without prejudice assessment.  

“Women in financial services should not feel they are required to perform better than their male counterparts just because they look or sound different, or because they have a different way of expressing themselves or moving things forward.”

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