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Shane Oliver - Head of Investment Strategy and Chief Economist, AMP Capital

Shane Oliver
'I study economic trends around the globe and in Australia to ascertain where the best places are to invest. This could include cash and property as well as stocks.'

Shane joined AMP in 1984 as a research officer, when the company’s core focus was insurance. Since that time he’s watched the industry evolve while moving up the ranks to his current role as head of investment strategy and chief economist. Shane plays a major role in determining AMP Capital's investment strategy and looks after $16 billion in managed funds.


What do you do in your current job?

I am responsible for the overall investment performance of diversified funds, AMP Captial's broad investment strategy as well as economic and market analysis and forecasting. Another part of my job includes giving client presentations at both an institutional and wholesale level. I talk to the media as I am AMP Capital’s main spokesperson on investment markets. Most of my job involves economic analysis and forecasting. I study economic trends around the globe and in Australia to ascertain where the best places are to invest. This could include cash and property as well as stocks.

What do you like most about your job?

My job has a high level of variety to it. I get a good mix of economics, which is my first love, investment management and interaction with numerous people. There’s an element of ‘backing your view’ and adding value to clients’ funds, which is obviously challenging. Plus I also get to go out and present to clients and the media, which I truly enjoy.

What do you like least?

Having to keep track of lots of events and data releases. It seems to go from one event to another, whether it’s developments in global politics or interest rates going up. To some degree, I’ve seen it all before and it seems to go around in cycles every so often.

Does it make it easier for you to predict which way markets are going?

I think it does make it easier. If you didn’t know, you’d make knee-jerk reactions. There have been numerous events in the Middle East, and the markets always think ‘disaster’. Nine times out of 10 nothing happens. It certainly helps, but each event has its own little nuance. There’s still a degree of challenge to it.

Do you have any specific qualifications?

I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Economics completed with Honours in 1982 from Macquarie University. I actually received an Australian Postgraduate Research Award and continued to study full time after graduating from my Master of Economics in 1983. But after I started working at AMP, I studied part time. In 1985, I transferred to a PhD, which I completed in 1991 from Macquarie University. I also have a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment from the Securities Institute of Australia.

How has the industry changed?

My view is that the industry has become more positive. When I started at AMP, it was about managing people’s life insurance, and superannuation was relatively small. Now there is a lot more dynamism and openness in the industry, and it’s also a lot more accountable. I think the market’s become much more dynamic, in the sense that it’s been opened up to the world. We can invest anywhere in the world now.

What’s an interesting project you are working on?

For the past year we’ve been working on an innovative global asset investment fund product. It’s very different to the typical Australian shares-only kind of managed fund. The project involves all aspects of getting the product up and running from scratch. An important part of this process is to make sure that the key investment drivers are working – so this involves a lot of research and back testing to make sure our process is generating the right signals. Obviously, the goal is to generate higher returns for clients who invest their money in the fund. However, it’s also important to be able to compare its performance with a suitable benchmark or market index to give investors a fair insight into how it’s tracking.

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