Kate Galvin’s interview with the Financial Standard – Walking the Walk

VFMC > Media releases > Kate Galvin’s interview with the Financial Standard – Walking the Walk
Chief executive of one of Australia’s largest investment managers, Kate Galvin is helping spearhead greater gender equity, diversity, and inclusion in the investment management industry. Andrew McKean writes.
Victorian Funds Management Corporation (VFMC) chief executive Kate Galvin takes pride in VFMC’s promotion of gender equity and diversity, and for setting a bold vision to be one of Australia’s first gender balanced fund managers.

“We’ve made significant progress towards our goal of achieving gender balance and promoting equity, inclusion, and diversity within our organisation. Over 60% of our leadership and 40% of our investment team is made up of women, and we’ve achieved gender balance within our organisation, sitting at 50/50,” Galvin says.

Moreover, VFMC has taken another major step towards promoting gender equality in the workplace by submitting its first Gender Equality Action Plan in accordance with the Gender Equality Act 2020. The Act aims to promote gender equality and eliminate discrimination by requiring public and private entities to develop action plans, conduct gender audits, and report on progress towards achieving equality.

One of the key actions outlined in VFMC’s Gender Equality Action Plan is to equip male leaders with the skills to drive gender equality in their own teams. To achieve this goal, VFMC team members have been invited to participate in the Change Makers course facilitated by Future Women. “We’re working hard to make sure that we aren’t just talking the talk, but walking the walk,” Galvin says.

“As an organisation we strongly believe that diverse perspectives lead to better decision making; and when you’re deploying $70 billion of capital you want the best decision making you can get.”

In a bid to foster a thriving and inclusive work environment, VFMC has made its people and culture its “number one” strategic priority. To this end, the organisation has developed a comprehensive Family Friendly Workplace Action Plan.

The plan seeks to support working parents and caregivers by offering a range of flexible working arrangements, parental leave, and other family and caring-related benefits.

Additionally, through Parents at Work, employees have access to a variety of resources, including podcasts, courses, case studies, and expert advice, to help its employees maintain a healthy work-life balance.

“We know that to retain, engage and attract the best talent while creating a truly diverse and inclusive organisation we need to understand that everyone has family obligations – which look different for each person,” Galvin says.

“Being a family friendly workplace aligns with our values and vision; and importantly our commitment to our team to maintain a culture that allows everyone to be their best with us.”

Galvin is also focused on increasing the number of female investors in the investment management industry.

As part of this effort, VFMC is a member of the Future IM/Pact Initiative, which aims to empower and attract diverse talent to the industry. The initiative has a particular focus on increasing the representation of women in front-office investment teams, where they are currently underrepresented.

Galvin feels privileged to lead an organisation committed to promoting diversity and gender equality in investment management. She believes VFMC’s efforts not only contribute to a more equitable society but also help to attract diverse talent by fostering an inclusive and collaborative culture.

“Our purpose is to improve the prosperity of Victoria, and our work is deeply meaningful for the communities we serve,” Galvin says.

“Our investments support critical schemes such as the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and WorkSafe, which underpin many aspects of daily life. By generating investment returns, we enable the funding of vital initiatives that benefit our community.”

Moreover, emphasising the importance of doing meaningful work, particularly the thoughtful deployment of capital, Galvin says she made a promise to her teenage daughter to pursue impactful work at this stage of her career.

“When my daughter was younger, she was really worried about the climate crisis,” Galvin recounts.

“My daughter said, ‘I don’t want you to be working where you are now, I want you to be doing something where you’re helping us save the planet’.”

However, this isn’t to say that Galvin hasn’t already had a highly varied and successful career. Her impressive career includes leadership positions at National Australia Bank (NAB) where she served as an executive director, leading NABhealth across corporate and SME banking in collaboration with the Medfin and HICAPS teams.

Galvin has also served as head of advice at JBWere, managing advisers in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth. She oversaw a team of 120 private wealth advisers and support staff who advised on managing billions of dollars in assets.

As a member of JBWere’s leadership team, Galvin contributed to the development and execution of strategic plans for the firm; she was also the establishing chair of the JBWere Diversity Council.

But her professional journey didn’t start in financial services. Despite it being the decade of Wall Street when Galvin graduated high school, she says she was more influenced by legal drama Rumpole and Bailey, studying law and economics at Monash University.

After practising law for eight years, Galvin jumped to financial services, saying she felt that her emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills could be better utilised in other areas.

“While as a lawyer you get to advise people on decisions, the great thing about being a leader and manager is that you make the decisions, and that’s what I wanted – to run, grow, and transform businesses,” Galvin says.

Evidently, Galvin is highly motivated by the prospect of leading and managing teams, and creating inclusive, and enjoyable workplaces where people can flourish, but the importance of investment performance can’t be discounted.

VFMC’s foundation clients – WorkSafe, TAC, Victorian Managed Insurance Authority, and ESSSuper – make up over 90% of the investment manager’s funds under management. Despite a -2.1% annual return due to global market falls in 2021-2022, VFMC’s diversified portfolio contained losses and outperformed its benchmark by 1.1%.

The portfolio has delivered a net return of 8.8% after fees over the past decade, with all periods from two to 10 years remaining positive.

“As a large domestic investor with global exposure, international markets and geopolitical conditions are front of mind for us. Each year, we set investment priorities that focus on market trends and macro conditions facing our portfolio, especially during volatile macro-outlooks,” Galvin says.

“With the current pressures of de-globalisation, onshoring, trade wars, conflicts such as Russia-Ukraine, and a global energy and climate crisis, we maintain a continued discipline around examining our portfolio exposures and deploying capital that enables us to manage these risks.”

Filter by

  • Date range:

  • Categories: