Following the Global Financial Crisis, banking regulators around the world have been steadily strengthening their reporting requirements. The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) is no exception. Macquarie has responded by investing in and growing the Australian Balance Sheet and Statistical Reporting (BSSR) team.
Since late 2017, the team has been working through the implementation of the Economic and Financial Statistics (EFS) suite of returns through a dedicated enterprise-wide project. This project has involved a team of more than 70 employees across diverse disciplines – including technology, systems, automation, analytics and data reporting – coming together to support the more granular statistical reporting and data collection requirements. Whilst, at the same time, embedding regulatory reporting more holistically across the whole of Macquarie.
Philippa Rigon and Ashish Malhotra are two members were involved in this project and the enhancement and growth of the BSSR team.
After Philippa Rigon graduated as a qualified Chartered Accountant, she worked as an auditor for a major accounting firm. In 2003, she joined Macquarie's regulatory reporting team before moving on to spend time in other finance teams such as group financial reporting, legal entity control and financial control.
Now her time with Macquarie has come full circle and she is an Associate Director that leads the Australia and New Zealand BSSR team, overseeing a team in both Sydney and Gurugram, India. Even though she has now spent 17 years with Macquarie, Philippa says the collaborative, dynamic environment keeps her interested, challenged and engaged.
“There's always lots of change at Macquarie," says Philippa. “Change can bring opportunity, and opportunity can bring change. I’ve worked across a number of different teams and across really interesting, topical areas that has allowed me to gain new skills and knowledge as well as the opportunity to work with other Macquarie staff from diverse backgrounds. I've also been fortunate enough to have great managers who have supported me personally and professionally."
One thing that’s been a constant throughout her career with Macquarie is that she has had the ability to work flexibly – something that’s really important to both her and the organisation more broadly.
“Since I took my first maternity leave in 2005 and until recently, I've worked part-time," says Philippa. “Macquarie has been and continues to be very accommodating in terms of flexibility and in promoting working mums."
Philippa says that the growth in scale and breath of regulatory reporting requirements has been the driving force behind most of the change in what she does day to day.
“There’s been a steady increase in the amount of regulatory reporting we have to do, as well as more granular level detail being required, higher data quality and deeper analysis, along with a specific focus on economic drivers and increased engagement with the regulator and other agencies. And there’s unlikely to be any letup soon – it's set to continue and we have to be agile and flexible to respond to that," says Philippa.
Philippa says that historically in the finance sector, regulatory reporting was seen as the last mile. But at Macquarie it is now more integrated with external financial reporting, and throughout the business units there’s a clearer focus on end-to-end flows of data – from capture right through to reporting.
“We produce several hundred returns and submissions annually, but the emphasis on how we work and who we work with has changed," explains Philippa. “We start with interpreting the reporting requirements in line with Macquarie’s operations, and then work with the business units to ensure fit for purpose data for use, looking at how they capture the data and how that data flows through to the returns. The focus is on enhancements, analysis and trends, controls and adapting to ongoing change."
As part of this constant evolution in requirements, Philippa has played a pivotal role by leading the EFS project to integrate the revised reporting across Macquarie.
“I've enjoyed the challenge of being responsible for the project's delivery and at the same time enhancing the BSSR team to support the on-going reporting requirements and future change," says Philippa. “EFS is the longest running project across finance, and has been implemented across many teams through the end-to-end reporting cycle."
“Macquarie is quite forward thinking, and the EFS project is one example of this," she says.
Philippa says one of the benefits of being at Macquarie is that her team is a highly-visible one with exposure right across the organisation.
Her advice to anyone interested in joining Macquarie or the BSSR team is simple.
“Ask questions; curiosity is really important, and also openly share your thoughts and opinions to challenge the status quo" Philippa says. “We're not just a reporting function, it's far more than that."
Before he joined Macquarie's BSSR team in Gurugram, India in 2012, Ashish Malhotra had qualified as a Chartered Accountant and was working for a large international accounting firm.
“I was attracted to Macquarie as it's well-known in the financial services industry and the Gurugram office had a reputation as being a good place to work," says Ashish.
Ashish was promoted several times within BSSR, becoming a vice president and leading the statistical reporting team in Gurugram. After eight 8 years, he recently transferred to Macquarie's Sydney office.
“I was given the option of moving to Sydney to expand my role to engage further with business," explains Ashish. “The pandemic made it an uncertain time for my family to move countries but I took a leap of faith."
Ashish says good leadership and mentoring have contributed to his career growth at Macquarie.
“I was trusted with a lot of responsibilities," says Ashish. “And I was given ample space and opportunity to explore and make decisions."
“The managers really listen. No matter what your level, you can reach out to anyone."
Ashish says this open culture leads to people taking ownership of their work. This contributes to the role the BSSR team plays in upholding Macquarie's reputation.
“Opportunity, accountability, and integrity are critical to the team," he says. “We have a framework and we are accountable to meet our regulatory requirements.”
Ashish says the scope of his role has broadened over the years.
“There hasn't been a dull moment across my eight years with the BSSR team," he says. “There is a great diversity of people and opinions and there is always something new to look at: new transactions, new reporting requirements, new trends across the market, new economic factors to understand."
Ashish says that while the work is fast-paced, flexibility – including working from home – is encouraged.
He says that there is no such thing as a standard day. Sometimes he may be reaching out to data teams or the business to tackle issues; other times he may be involved in new product approval; and other times he may be responding to the regulator's questions.
It's this variety that he enjoys most.
“BSSR is consultative and I get to interact with the different businesses, understand their structures and understand the reporting processes around the new products."
Ashish says one of the greatest opportunities in his time with Macquarie has been the chance to collaborate with his colleagues on the EFS project and to introduce reporting into the wider business.
Acting as a subject matter expert, Ashish has been involved with the project from the initial stages. Since then he has analysed how reporting is carried out across the organisation and has created scenarios for when factors change to make sure ongoing data collection is accurate and complete.
“It has involved an enormous amount of consultation, which has been challenging but interesting."
“We're also using fintech tools to automate some of the more operational steps across our processes and help us focus on analytics," he explains. “Data quality is important. So is documenting our interpretations and assumptions."
“The EFS project has been critical in improving the way the BSSR team delivers on its regulatory requirements."
“It is nice to have been so involved in something that matters so much."