The millionaires' factory
As arguably the leading homegrown investment bank in Australia, Macquarie has made a name for itself as a “millionaires” factory, so aptly named due to their (at least pre-GFC) reputation of high margins, strong profits and exorbitant bonuses for management. Looking at its growth now, Macquarie continues to be a force to be reckoned with and as an investment bank, still finds its name in the headlines for some of the biggest M&A and ECM deals in the market. More broadly speaking, Macquarie is a monster of a machine and if you studied commerce in any of the G08, will likely know a friend or a friend of a friend who works here.
Macquarie has a reputation for having one of the relatively better cultures and work-life balances compared to other investment banks. That’s not to say that this will be a walk in the park – people work hard, but work smart. While in your junior years, you might feel obliged to hang around when you have nothing to do, it’s safe to say that the intense US culture of being on call 24/7 has not permeated through the bank’s culture. Given the amount of resources Macquarie has and their intimate knowledge of the Australian market, this is a great place to train if you are after looking for a career in Australian IB. Macquarie does invest in its people and will support those that are hungriest. As a result, high performers can move up fast through the ranks and skip years or land back to back title promos, if they are able to achieve results (usually through racking up a tonne of working hours).
Yes, the firm is not a bulge bracket bank, but it bats above its league on a global stage for an Aussie bank. It’s presence is felt around the world and through the ups and downs, it has managed to continually reinvent itself to stay ahead of the curve (e.g. innovating in infrastructure globally, building a strong annuity businesses and making decade long investments like Nuix or Pexa to deliver outsized returns in the hundreds of millions). The bank is not afraid to try something new and has a history of truly taking an entrepreneurial approach to create value.
For those interested in global opportunities, Macquarie definitely supports and encourages mobility (it has offices in the US, UK, HK, Singapore etc) but other than teams touching infrastructure, the Macquarie brand name doesn’t carry anywhere near the same weight as it does in Australia. In other words, if you are looking to work overseas at another IB in the future, Macquarie probably wouldn’t be your best bet. Another way this comes back to bite you is training. Whilst other global banks might organise training for a couple of weeks in New York, your training (e.g. grad, VP etc) will take place in Sydney. It is only a short trip, but who doesn’t love a fully paid, fully expensed trip in the Big Apple?
Despite this, pay is still top band in Australia and you don’t really need to worry too much about getting the short end of the stick. However, like almost all banks, you do have retention and therefore some of your bonuses can be held back and released over a couple of years.
Overall, Macquarie is a solid top-tier option for someone with aspirations in Australian finance. It strikes a balance between working hard and playing hard and its Aussie identity plays a large part in ensuring that it is differentiated to other global (especially US) banks. Despite this, it still hits hard and is consistently near the top of the league tables. So if what you want is solid Australian IB experience, you really can’t go wrong with the ol’ millionaires’ factory.