Mr Benari will retire as CEO and step down from the Challenger Board in January 2019 and will work with Mr Howes over a six month period to ensure a seamless transition.
Mr Howes has held a number of senior executive roles at Challenger since joining the company in 2003 including Chief Executive of Challenger’s Life business and Chief Investment Officer. He currently leads Challenger’s Distribution, Product and Marketing team, responsible for the company’s product design, distribution, sales and marketing activities.
Prior to joining Challenger Mr Howes held senior positions with leading financial services groups in Australia and the USA, including Macquarie Bank and Bankers Trust.
Mr Polson said: “Brian has led Challenger through an immensely successful period of growth, establishing the company as the clear leader in retirement incomes and developing one of the fastest growing active fund managers in the country. On behalf of the Board I would like to thank him for his extraordinary contribution over the past 15 years.”
Mr Benari joined Challenger in 2003 and was appointed Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer in 2008. He has served as Managing Director and CEO since February 2012.
“Since his appointment as CEO in 2012, Brian has overseen the transformation of the business with the company more than tripling its market capitalisation to nearly $7 billion today. Similarly, assets under management has also almost tripled. This has delivered a total shareholder return over this time of 209%, compared to the ASX200 result of 95%.
“Coming out of the global financial crisis, Challenger embarked on a strategy to focus the business on re-establishing Australia’s annuities market. Under Brian’s leadership the company has achieved this ambitious goal.
“Brian’s effective leadership style is well demonstrated through the quality of his executive team and leading employee engagement. The ultimate evidence of this is the internal succession for his role, enabling a seamless transition and maintaining the momentum in the business.
“Brian leaves Challenger in a very strong position, well placed to continue to deliver growing returns into the future.”
Mr Benari said: “It has been an absolute privilege and pleasure to lead Challenger. I have had the opportunity to work with an extraordinary team of people to achieve a significant transformation.
“I am very proud of the business Challenger is today. It has a clear strategy, strong team, leading brand and a long track record of delivering growth for our shareholders.
“I am also extremely pleased to see Richard appointed as Challenger’s next CEO. Having worked with Richard for many years, I know that he has an exceptional intellect, customer-focus and passion for our business. I am confident he will lead Challenger to continued success.”
Mr Polson said: “Richard has delivered outstanding results in each of the pisions that he has led and has the ideal experience and skills to lead Challenger through its next phase of growth.
“The Board has had the pleasure of working with Richard over many years and during this time he has demonstrated his integrity, commitment and capability.”
Mr Howes said: “I am excited and honoured to be chosen to lead Challenger. I believe strongly in our business and in our ability to capture the significant opportunities for growth we see ahead.
“I am looking forward to working with my colleagues as we continue to build on our success to deliver excellent outcomes for our customers, our shareholders, our employees and the wider community.”
Challenger Limited (Challenger) is an investment management firm managing $81 billion in assets at 30 September 2018. It is focused on providing customers with financial security for retirement.
Challenger operates two core investment businesses, a fiduciary Funds Management pision and an APRA-regulated Life pision. Challenger Life Company Limited (Challenger Life) is Australia's largest provider of annuities.
For more information contact:
Head of Investor Relations
Tel (02) 9994 7125
Mob 0401 139 067
Chief Executive Corporate Affairs and Sustainability
Tel (02) 9994 7181
Mob 0400 356 692