Meet the Team

Photo of Ralph Stewart

Ralph Stewart

Founder and Managing Director

In 2014, Ralph established Retirement Income Group, the umbrella organisation for Lifetime Asset Management. With three decades of experience in New Zealand’s financial services sector, Ralph’s journey includes senior leadership roles at Tower Insurance and chairmanship of Spicers Wealth Management Limited. Ralph was CEO of AXA Insurance and Asset Management in New Zealand for 10 years. When AXA was sold to AMP Ralph assumed the role of CEO at Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). Ralph is currently a Director of the Police Welfare Fund and the Police Health Care Plan Limited.

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Dame Diana Crossan

Independent Chair

Dame Diana spent a decade as New Zealand’s Retirement Commissioner, where she played a pivotal role in establishing KiwiSaver and launching Sorted.Org. Following this impactful tenure, she joined Wellington Free Ambulance as CEO, contributing to the organisation for several years. With a diverse professional background, Dame Diana has held significant positions at AMP and served as the founding manager of the State Services Commission’s equal employment opportunities unit. Her extensive board service includes roles at Mighty River Power, NZ Post, Good Shepherd, and Kaibosh. Currently, she serves as Chair of the Depression Recovery Trust, So They Can New Zealand, and WELLfed, showcasing her ongoing commitment to various causes. In recognition of her outstanding leadership in the public service, Dame Diana was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s Honours in 2019.

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Martin Hawes

Independent Director

Martin, a former financial adviser, is one of New Zealand’s most recognised and trusted financial commentators, regularly featured on television, radio, and in print. With a career spanning several decades, Martin is a revered figure in finance and investment. He has earned acclaim as a best-selling author, particularly known for his books on Estates, Trusts, financial planning, retirement, and investment in New Zealand. Martin’s best-selling works have empowered numerous individuals, offering valuable insights that enable them to take charge of their financial well-being. Dedicated to the cause of financial security and independence, Martin is a committed advocate, actively assisting others in the pursuit of their financial goals.

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John Strahl

Independent Director and Chair of Audit and Risk Committee

John Strahl is a former partner and Chair of the board at international law firm, DLA Phillips Fox (now DLA Piper), during which he spent more than 20 years as the principal legal adviser to Tower Insurance. During his tenure as Chair, Phillips Fox was one of the largest legal firms in Australasia, with 190 partners and 1500 staff in 10 offices across Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam.

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Susie Staley

Independent Director

Susie Staley is a partner at Staley Cardoza Lawyers in Dunedin and an experienced director. She is currently Chair of the Broadcasting Standards Authority, Save The Children NZ, Chatsford Management, and the Police Health Plan. She has previously served as Chair of Maritime New Zealand, Trustees Executors Limited, and Fashion Inc., as well as a director of PGG Wrightson and Dunedin International Airport Limited. Susie was appointed as a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in December 2014 for services to governance and business.

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James Beale

Director

James has 25 years’ experience in New Zealand financial markets, including 14 years with leading investment advisory business, Craigs Investment Partners, where he held a number of senior executive roles. James is currently a partner at Oriens Capital, a private equity fund that partners with high-quality privately owned New Zealand businesses. He is a member of the Institute of Directors and is a director of Rockit Global, IVS Group, and PMG Group and sits on the investment committees of Acorn Foundation and New Zealand Cricket.

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Cameron Bagrie

Independent Committee Member and Economist

Cameron has been an economist for more than 20 years, including stints at National Bank, Treasury, Statistics New Zealand and more than 11 years as ANZ’s chief economist. Cameron takes a pragmatic and unbiased approach to economics and his insights are frequently sought out by the media.

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Kevin Stirrat

Independent Committee Member

Kevin has worked in financial markets for over 35 years and recently retired from Forsyth Barr after 15 years leading the investment strategy and funds management divisions. Previously, Kevin spent 11 years in Deutsche Bank’s global markets team. He is currently a director of AJE Healthcare.

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Paul Robertshawe

Investment Committee Advisor

Paul has 25 years’ experience in the fund management industry, specialising in wholesale client portfolios, including 10 years running a large New Zealand equities portfolio for ACC. He is currently chief investment officer of Forsyth Barrowned Octagon Asset Management.

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Chelsea Devlin

Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

Chelsea started with Lifetime in 2019, and oversees marketing, sales, and product development. With 15 years’ experience in the fields of communications, marketing and sales, Chelsea has accumulated valuable experience in diverse industries, including financial services, government, education, property, heating and cooling, and hospitality.

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Ellen Cheyne

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Ellen joined Lifetime in 2018 and oversees finance, risk and compliance. She has 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry in the UK and New Zealand, including as head of finance and later head of strategy and planning for The Co-operative Bank. Ellen is a Trustee of New Zealand Riding for the Disabled Perpetual Members Trust and is on the board of New Zealand Riding for the Disabled and So They Can New Zealand.

Photo of Paul Wharakura

Paul Wharakura

Chief Operation Officer (COO)

Paul joined Lifetime in 2023 to oversee operations. Paul has two decades of financial services experience across the UK and New Zealand, including 16 years with BNP Paribas Securities Services where he held various operational roles, including five years as Operations Manager.