Macquarie Group faces profit decline

Company News

by Glenn Dyer

Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG), renowned for its ‘annuity’ style businesses in asset management, finds itself grappling with a significant decline in profit for the fiscal year ending March 31. Despite its bold assertions, the financial juggernaut's latest update paints a sobering picture, with profit figures trailing considerably behind the previous year's performance.

In its customary third-quarter and nine-month update, typically released in February, Macquarie Group offered a glimpse into its financial standing without delving into specific figures, as is often the norm. The group acknowledged a stark reality: the year-to-date Net Profit After Tax for FY24 has taken a notable hit compared to FY23. This downturn is attributed partly to an exceptional quarterly result in 3Q23, coupled with ongoing challenges in the economic landscape.

The weaker performance witnessed over the nine-month period stemmed primarily from diminished profit contributions from both its annuity and market-facing ventures. Macquarie Group pointed fingers at the robust third quarter of 2022-23 and reduced asset realizations in green investments as key factors contributing to the decline in net profit within its asset management segment.

Moreover, the fiscal year-to-date net profit contribution from the commodities and global markets segment experienced a decline, primarily due to the exceptional strength seen in commodities during the corresponding period of 2022-23.

Despite these setbacks, Macquarie Group maintains a stance of resilience, expressing confidence in its ability to deliver superior performance in the medium term. CEO Shemara Wikramanayake emphasized the resilience of underlying client franchises amid prevailing uncertainties, highlighting continued customer growth, fundraising efforts, and new business origination across all business verticals.

However, concerns arise as Wikramanayake acknowledged the substantial decline in net profit contribution compared to the previous fiscal year, particularly within the annuity-style businesses and market-facing ventures. This departure from Macquarie's traditionally cautious language raises eyebrows among analysts and investors, signaling the severity of the situation.

The departure of Nicholas O’Kane, who served as the head of Commodities and Global Markets for the past five years, further underscores the challenges faced by Macquarie Group. O’Kane's decision to step down, after a long tenure with the company, reflects the need for a strategic recalibration amidst turbulent times. Simon Wright, poised to take over O’Kane's role, brings a wealth of experience, having been with Macquarie for 35 years and contributing significantly to the development of the company's global Financial Markets platform.

Despite these setbacks, Macquarie Group's shares exhibit a mixed performance, showcasing resilience amid adversity. While up 1.9% year-to-date, they have witnessed a modest decline of 1.2% over the past year. As the company navigates through these challenges, its ability to adapt and innovate will be critical in sustaining its position as a leading player in the financial landscape.

Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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