Banking: Macquarie’s masters of reinvention
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Banking: Macquarie’s masters of reinvention

As he approaches 10 years at the helm, Macquarie CEO Nicholas Moore runs a business quite different from the one he inherited during the financial crisis. Capital market risk has been replaced with steady annuity-style income – but he says innovation and individuality has survived the transition.


There has rarely been a transformation of a bank as dramatic as the one Nicholas Moore has orchestrated as CEO of Macquarie Bank. And yet it is hard to pin down a moment when it happened. Macquarie’s has been a reinvention by stealth.

Moore stepped into the top job in May 2008, at possibly the worst imaginable time, just as the global financial crisis squared up to hit the institution.

The bank he inherited from Allan Moss – who, in counterpoint to Moore’s misfortune, managed possibly the most well-timed bank CEO departure in history – had achieved impressive growth based to a large extent on capital markets businesses. Macquarie was always a diverse and sprawling beast, but the model back then was to build numerous satellite funds, fill them with assets and then enjoy the fees that were remitted back to the mothership. In 2008, 91% of Macquarie’s profit came from market-facing businesses.

The financial crisis hit Macquarie hard in terms of sentiment, if not the bottom line. Moore has always maintained the bank was nowhere near to the edge given its capital position, and it remained profitable throughout. But the widening credit default swaps of the time – from 200 basis points on its subordinated debt to 1,800bp within six months – showed just how clearly the market believed that the bank was in danger, as did a share price fall from A$80 ($59.8)

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