Future Fund head Mark Burgess is leaving the $89 billion fund to return to the private sector.
Mr Burgess revealed on Wednesday that he will leave later this year when a replacement is found. He has not revealed what he intends to do after he steps down, apart from indicating it is likely to be a role in financial services.
Before his appointment more than two years ago, Mr Burgess served as chief executive of funds management investor Treasury Group, and had worked at Credit Suisse, American Express and Colonial First State.
While his pay is not disclosed, the fund's last annual report shows the highest-paid employee received a base salary of $526,499 and a $412,212 annual bonus. Mr Burgess said he had made the decision "a bit earlier" than he had expected, but the Future Fund was now mature and he preferred to build businesses. He said the fund, with a 47-strong investment team, was run in a commercial manner.
He said it was good to go out on a high, after the fund reported a 15.4 per cent return in the year to June, exceeding its mandated targets. The fund has a mandate to return inflation plus 4.5 to 5.5 per cent a year over the long term.
It was established in 2006 with $60.5 billion in government contributions to pay for public-sector superannuation liabilities.
David Gonski, the chairman of the Future Fund board of guardians, said Mr Burgess had "played an important role in leading the agency through its next stage of development and in the implementation of a number of important initiatives".
And after splashing about $1 billion on infrastructure assets, the fund has also vowed to "vigorously defend" legal moves by Melbourne investment giant AustralianSuper over the price it paid for Perth Airport. Mr Burgess said he respected AustralianSuper and would "see how it plays out".
The Future Fund's 15.4 per cent annual return - in line with returns by the average balanced superannuation fund - took the fund's three-year return to 10 per cent a year.
Australian equities now comprise 9.2 per cent of its assets, shares in developing market 23.8 per cent, and emerging-market shares at 7.1 per cent.