About us

Executive management

Brian Benari - Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer 
Brian Benari was appointed Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Challenger Limited in February 2012, having previously held the role of Group Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operating Officer since 2008.

Brian qualified as a chartered accountant with Andersen's and joined Challenger in March 2003. He has extensive finance, risk management and asset management experience both onshore and offshore having held executive roles with JP Morgan, Bankers Trust and Macquarie Bank. Brian currently sits on the Board of the Financial Services Council and co-chairs its Superannuation Committee.

Richard Howes - Chief Executive, Distribution, Product and Marketing
Richard Howes joined Challenger in 2003 and is Chief Executive, Distribution, Product & Marketing. In this role, he is responsible for the overall strategic direction and coordination of the Group's distribution, product, marketing and research functions. Richard was appointed to this role in February 2017. Prior to this, he was the Chief Executive of Challenger's Life business. Richard has also previously held the role of Challenger Life's Chief Investment Officer.

Prior to joining Challenger, Richard held senior roles at Zurich Capital Markets, Macquarie and Bankers Trust where his primary responsibility was providing risk management solutions to major companies and institutions globally. He began his career in the strategy department of Queensland Investment Corporation in 1992, where he was successful in designing and implementing an investment performance attribution system.

Natalie Nicholson - Executive General Manager, Human Resources
Natalie Nicholson joined Challenger as Executive General Manager, Human Resources in October 2017. Natalie has over 20 year's domestic and international experience in human resources and strategic commercial roles and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Chief Executive Women Connect.

Prior to Challenger, Natalie worked at CBA as a senior HR business leader where, in her final six months, she was seconded to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet working on international, domestic and corporate issues. Within Australia, Natalie has worked with ING Direct on their Executive team, as Executive Director of HR, and before this as Head of Brand and Customer Experience. She also previously held a number of senior HR roles at AMP.

Chris Plater - Chief Executive and Chief Investment Officer, Life
Chris joined Challenger in 2003 and has overall executive responsibility for the management of Challenger's APRA regulated life company, Challenger Life Company Ltd. He was appointed Challenger Life's Chief Investment Officer in 2008 and Chief Executive in February 2017.

Prior to joining Challenger, Chris worked at Bankers Trust, CBA, Lehman Brothers and Zurich Capital Markets in a variety of financial markets roles in Sydney and London.

Ian Saines - Chief Executive, Funds Management
Ian Saines is the Chief Executive of Challenger's Funds Management business which includes Fidante Partners and Challenger Investment Partners. Ian joined Challenger in March 2015 from CBA where he was Group Executive of the Institutional Banking and Markets division. In this capacity he was a member of the Group's Executive Committee and reported directly to the Group Chief Executive.

Ian has over 25 years of financial services experience having commenced with the Reserve Bank of Australia and worked for institutions including Bankers Trust.

Andrew Tobin - Chief Financial Officer
Andrew Tobin joined Challenger in 2007 and was appointed Chief Financial Officer in February 2012. In this role he is responsible for Challenger's Business Services division which comprises a number of group operational areas including finance, investor relations, treasury, operations and information technology. Prior to this role he was the group's Deputy Chief Financial Officer.

After originally training as a chartered accountant with KPMG, Andrew has spent more than 20 years in the banking, insurance and wealth management industries in Australia and Asia. He was previously the General Manager, Finance for the Premium Business Services division of CBA and has also held senior roles for National Australia Bank and Lend Lease Group.

Michael Vardanega - General Counsel & Executive General Manager, Corporate Affairs
Michael Vardanega's responsibilities at Challenger encompass legal and regulatory affairs, corporate governance, company secretarial and corporate affairs. Michael joined Challenger in 2006 from commercial law firm Ashurst (formerly, Blake Dawson), where he was a member of the corporate advisory practice.

Michael is admitted to practise as a solicitor in New South Wales and is a member of the Law Council of Australia, the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association and the Australian Institute of Australian Company Directors.

Richard Willis - Chief Risk Officer
Richard Willis joined Challenger in November 2003 and was appointed to the role of Chief Risk Office in January 2011. Prior to this, Richard was Head of Risk and Treasury where he was responsible for overseeing Challenger's treasury and risk functions.

Before joining Challenger, Richard held senior roles at Zurich Capital Markets (Asian region) specialising in areas of structured finance and at Bankers Trust in the Debt Capital Markets division specialising in securitisation.

Rob Woods - Chief Executive, Group Strategy
Rob Woods joined Challenger in November 2003 and was appointed Chief Executive, Group Strategy in February 2015. Prior to this, Rob was responsible for Challenger's Funds Management business.

Rob has also previously been the Chief Executive of Challenger's Asset Management business which included Challenger Life and our Specialised Fund activities.