"Persevere with your good ideas": Q&A with Mercer's Darren Stevens

"Persevere with your good ideas": Q&A with Mercer's Darren Stevens

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"Persevere with your good ideas": Q&A with Mercer's Darren Stevens


Intrigued by the “complexities of financial markets", Darren Stevens took some friendly advice that changed the direction of his career, and he hasn't looked back. Following a decade at Bravura Solutions, he has been appointed as head of superannuation at Mercer. He tells Industry Moves about his goals for the new role and touches on the technologies that are revolutionising financial services products. He also pays tribute to an influential leader, names a career highlight, and reveals the added benefits of working through his bucket list.


What initially attracted you towards a career in finance?

Many years back, I was studying Marine Biology and Mathematics at the University of Queensland and became drawn to the complexities of financial markets. A friend suggested that I look into Actuarial Studies and the rest is history.

Can you tell us more about what your job at Mercer entails?

As the Head of Superannuation, I am responsible for the end-to-end superannuation proposition for the Mercer Super Trust and our standalone clients. I am also responsible for developing and delivering on the long term strategies for our superannuation offerings of the future. We will be building on the transformational work that has been rolled out in Mercer over the last few years, to continue to deliver market leading solutions to our clients in the rapidly evolving environment.

What are your key goals for this role over the next six months?

Working with the leaders at Mercer to review and refine our views on the superannuation offering of the future and looking to leverage off the broad ranges of products and services available through the Mercer group in creating a more holistic offering for our superannuation customers.


"Every year I come across new and interesting products and services being offered in the Financial Services sector. In recent years, these are facilitated by technology advances and influenced by customer service expectations from other industries."


Having spent a large part of your career working with financial services products, what has been one of the best you’ve come across?

There is no single product that stands out as an enduring proposition. Every year I come across new and interesting products and services being offered in the Financial Services sector. In recent years, these are facilitated by technology advances and influenced by customer service expectations from other industries. The ability to deliver personalised service to customers using advance data analytics and delivering service through a variety of mediums, including the likes of chatbots, are revolutionising financial services products.

What lessons will you take from your time at Bravura into this new role?

My role at Bravura gave me a deep understanding of the global trends emerging in Financial Services as well as showing how organisations are using technology to shape their future businesses. The Australian market is experiencing many similar trends to those in the UK, Europe and South Africa. I am looking to bring my understanding of some of the more innovative trends, coupled with what's possible through technology and fintech partnerships, to enhance our proposition.

What has been a highlight of your career so far?

I have been lucky through my career to have been involved in a wide range of interesting projects. These have ranged from launching innovative award winning financial products, a life company demutualisation though to an IPO of a business. The most satisfying to date has been working with the team at Bravura to develop and deliver a market leading modern technology solution to meet the needs of wealth managers across Australia, New Zealand, the UK and South Africa.

What was your very first job?

My first role was as an Investment Consultant at Sedgewick International carrying out research and rating Fund Managers, covering their superannuation and non-superannuation investment vehicles. It gave me a fantastic grounding for my later career in Superannuation and just after I stared I was “lucky” enough to have witnessed firsthand the aftermath of a 25% fall in the Dow Jones on Black Monday in October 1987.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life/career so far?

The biggest influence on my life would be my father who instilled in me a strong moral compass and work ethic. From a business perspective, it would be Ken Boag who was the CEO of TOWER Australia. He believed strongly that getting a hands on grounding in each part of the value chain would make me a better leader in financial services.

What advice would you offer to your 21-year-old self?

To continue to believe in yourself and to persevere with your good ideas. I would also say to short the market in September 1987.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

My wife and I love the Melbourne art scene and regularly attend a variety of live shows and events. I also enjoy keeping fit and try to link this to a challenge selected from my bucket list each year. Last year's challenge was a hike though Nepal culminating in a trek to Everest Base Camp.


This article originally appeared on Industry Moves.



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