Adapting to a changing world: how the Future Fund is investing in private markets

Speech by Wendy Norris, Deputy Chief Investment Officer, Private Markets, at the Australian Investment Council Conference 2019, Melbourne Victoria.


Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.

The Future Fund was established, as Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, in 2006 to strengthen the Australian Government’s long-term financial position.

We invest over $200bn across six public asset funds for the benefit of future generations of Australians. The largest fund is the Future Fund itself which currently stands at over $160bn – and we’ve added more than $100bn in earnings over the last 13 years.

In the last financial year, the Future Fund delivered a return of 11.5%pa and the return over ten years has been 10.4% pa. Our private markets investments, in particular private equity, contributed strongly to those results.

Today I will touch on our perspectives on investing in private markets and how Future Fund is adapting to the current investment environment.

Before I talk about the market, I’d like to introduce some exciting changes in the Future Fund team and describe how we approach private markets investing.

In 2017 the government announced its intention to defer withdrawals from the Future Fund from 2020 until 2026. This means the Fund will continue to grow through accumulated earnings for years to come.

In addition, the government has allocated additional funds to us to manage; most recently the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund and the Future Drought Fund.

Together with the Medical Research Future Fund, these perpetual portfolios exceed $20bn in their own right, materially increasing our appetite for private market investments.

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