‘Follow the money’ is a good guide for tracking current trends in investing, but for hints about what may be coming next, ‘Follow the people.’
So it’s worth noting that the chief investment officer for one of Australia’s biggest pension fund is leaving his perch managing $71 billion in assets to join Leapfrog Investments, which earlier this year crossed the $1 billion mark in assets under management.
Leapfrog looks for opportunities in financial services, particularly insurance, and more recently health care, in emerging markets in Africa and Asia, where billions of consumers lack access to services to help them join the middle class. It has attracted a $200 million investment from the Overseas Private Investment Corp. and manages a $350 million fund for Prudential. (See, “LeapFrog Investments: Insuring Families’ Rise out of Poverty.”)
Richard Brandweiner, chief investment officer of First State Super, will join Leapfrog in January to help it develop more institution-grade investment products. Australia’s superannuation funds are roughly equivalent to U.S. pension funds.
“When the region’s CIO of the Year, overseeing $70 billion, leaves that position to join LeapFrog, it’s powerful evidence of the new scale, demonstrated institutional quality, and immense growth and potential of impact investing,” Andrew Kuper, Leapfrog’s founder and CEO, told ImpactAlpha.
Brandweiner has been an advocate for impact investing in Australia, arguing that large institutional investors are part of the same economic system in which they invest, a concept he has called “universal ownership.”
“We are no longer in a bubble. There are second and third-order ramifications of every investment decision we make,” Brandweiner told a conference in 2014.
Leapfrog says its portfolio companies have reached 68 million consumers through the first quarter of this year, with more then 43 percent annual revenue growth between 2013 and 2015, according to a recent presentation.