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More than numbers: Macquarie's Balance Sheet and Statistical Reporting team - Stephen Brickett and Emily Hasler's stories

Like statutory financial reporting, which has existed and matured over a long period of time, regulatory reporting is fast becoming an ever increasingly important part of both Macquarie and the banking sector. In response, Macquarie's Australian Balance Sheet and Statistical Reporting (BSSR) team has grown to become an essential support for Macquarie’s operating businesses.

 

The BSSR team, which is part of Macquarie's Financial Management Group, produces a wide range of returns and surveys to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and other agencies such as the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Macquarie's holistic and strategic approach to regulatory reporting means that the team’s work is challenging, fast-paced and dynamic. Working in such an environment offers up many opportunities, which is what makes it a fascinating experience for Stephen Brickett and Emily Hasler, who are bringing to life Macquarie’s purpose of ‘Empowering people to innovate and invest for a better future.’

An international career

In 2018, Stephen joined Macquarie as the Head of Corporate Reporting. A specialist in financial reporting, Stephen is passionate about the financial services industry and in particular banking. Before joining Macquarie, he spent two decades working for a major accountancy firm and a bank in his home country of South Africa, across the African continent more widely, as well as in the UK. 

One of the main things that appealed to Stephen about Macquarie was that it is a listed company with a truly global reach.

“Having real responsibility and accountability to Macquarie's providers of capital, and working across a diverse group, is what gets me up in the morning," he says. “Macquarie felt like an organisation on the move with a solid purpose. There are high expectations so I knew I would need to push myself."

“I liked the fact that Macquarie was involved in financial markets across the globe," he continues. “And I could also see a strong culture of diversity and inclusion".

 

Heading up Corporate Reporting

Part of Stephen’s role is to provide leadership to the BSSR team on how to best use financial and non-financial data to produce returns and surveys for APRA, the RBA and the ABS.

“Some of this information is used to formulate national economic and policy decisions, so it’s high-level work," Stephen explains.

Stephen says that as regulatory reporting requirements continue to evolve the challenge is in ensuring that Macquarie’s businesses are able to meet those requirements with the required data quality. Part of this requires looking at how automating the way that data is collected can lead to better accuracy and quicker turnaround times.

“Having regulatory reporting included in our internal conversations and a strong link to our statutory financial reporting allows us to ensure that there is continual focus on reporting the right data to our regulator and the agencies.”

 

Thinking on his feet

Stephen enjoys that no two days are the same.

“This is a fast-thinking, fast-paced environment," he says. “In addition to the team producing and delivering regulatory returns throughout the year, there are numerous projects ongoing to improve existing processes and look at how we best respond to new requirements from agencies right across the globe.” 

He also enjoys having the need to work closely with teams right across Macquarie’s business units, which has regularly exposed him to different approaches and new ways of thinking.

“We take a 'review and challenge' approach and involve different perspectives in the reporting," he says. “We actively engage with our regulator and agencies to achieve workable and acceptable outcomes."

Stephen’s role includes interpreting requirements and considering how those requirements apply from a statutory and regulatory reporting perspective.

He also notes that Macquarie's emphasis on technology and business resilience means that BSSR, like other Macquarie teams, has been able to continue its work unaffected throughout the recent pandemic shutdown.

“COVID-19 has undoubtedly presented a major challenge for us - but it has also resulted in our people identifying creative ways of reviewing and improving the way we work, to ensure we don’t miss a beat," says Stephen. “The team demonstrated their ability to come together, adapt and work as one during this time, evidenced by our continuing to manage and submit all of our reporting on time.”

 

A diverse role

Emily Hasler is a Senior Manager in the BSSR team and says she enjoys seeing the tangible impact her work has on policy and decision making.

“I like watching the evening news and seeing Macquarie’s figures being used," says Emily.

Emily has enjoyed a long career at Macquarie, having got her first taste for the company  as an intern. In 2006, after completing her Bachelor of Accounting, she returned to Macquarie via the Graduate Program and worked in three different areas of the business, before spending five years in Macquarie’s Real Estate team.

Although she has since had stints in other finance teams, as well as two periods of maternity leave, Emily has spent the best part of a decade in BSSR.

“Two things keep me here," Emily explains. “The sheer breadth and diversity of my role, plus the fact that every day is different."

 

A growing team

Over the years, Emily has seen the introduction of more stringent data guidelines to meet the constant growth in data requirements and the tighter reporting timeframes. This has resulted in Macquarie investing in the growth of its BSSR team.

“Our team spans across Gurugram and Sydney," explains Emily. “As a diverse and global team, we’re full of different perspectives and ideas about how can best achieve what we need to and how we do that in the most efficient way."

Since having a family, Emily has worked part-time and says Macquarie's commitment to flexible working and working remotely is entrenched in its culture.

“My team has long supported part-time and flexible working" she explains. “So, when COVID-19 hit, it wasn't a big deal to work from home. With half our team in India it is normal for us to be on video calls."

 

Much more than numbers

Emily notes that the BSSR team is not just about “punching out numbers" – it’s role is central to ensuring Macquarie retains the licenses necessary to operating its businesses.  

“We bridge the gap between Macquarie's business units and the regulators. It means we have to understand Macquarie's broader business context and represent that to the regulators".

Emily says there are several pillars to her work, from the actual reporting that involves monthly returns and reviews, to responding to Macquarie’s regulator and agencies’ queries. She creates frameworks around processes to ensure reporting is accurate, as well as pre-empting and managing the impact of changes to systems, data, policy or the business.

“A typical day sees me in discussion with my team around the data, talking to the business unit about what's in the pipeline, resolving issues, or discussing a policy under implementation."

Emily says the most important quality in Macquarie's regulatory reporting is having a dynamic approach.

“We take a holistic view, so the accountability sits with the business units as well as the reporting team," she says.

“I like that this means I'm not sitting behind the computer the whole time. I'm often talking with people to consider better ways to do things".

 

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