“My career and passion became all things data,” Joseph Duncan says of his fifteen-year career in financial services. As a Senior Manager in Analytics and Data Automation for Macquarie since 2019, Joseph has built an analytics team from the ground up and says he gets satisfaction out of creating business intelligence solutions with data.
It was a love of maths that steered Joseph Duncan towards a career in technology and data in the financial services space.
In 2006, while completing a Bachelor of Mathematics, Finance and International studies in Sydney, he had a unique opportunity to experience working in data.
“I spent a year of my university degree in Germany and completed a short contract for a global financial services organisation in London, working with data and change.”
“It was a good way to discover corporate life,” he says, “but I never thought I'd go full circle over the next decade and wind up back in data.”
Returning to Sydney he worked for three years in a performance and risk analytics role for an American bank. He then spent eight years at a major Australian financial services organisation, working in portfolio risk analytics before becoming a Quantitative Analyst within funds management teams.
Along the way, Joseph gained a Masters in Quantitative Finance and worked as a database developer for a software start up.
“My career and passion became all things data,” he explains.
“I love the iterative nature of programming and solving data problems - it’s similar to playing music, solving maths equations or building Lego,” Joseph says.
After more than a decade in funds management, Joseph was looking for a lateral move where he could apply his data engineering and analytics skills. A role in Macquarie Capital piqued his interest.
I knew Macquarie was progressive and had data and tech as a first priority for doing business."
In the interview he received a deeper understanding of Macquarie’s emphasis on best practice data standards and technology. He was also introduced to Macquarie Capital’s evolving data strategy, where analytics was playing a key role in the group's transformation journey.
Seeing something in Joseph, the business reshaped the role they were offering to encompass his skills. In 2019, he joined Macquarie as a Senior Manager in the Analytics and Data Automation team, with the scope of building out an analytics capability and assembling a team of business-side analytics developers.
“We are creating end-to-end analytical solutions and business intelligence tools for our stakeholders, in conjunction with our wider strategic data transformation journey,” Joseph says.
“Data and analytics have been an important part of all the roles I’ve had over my career, but now it’s front and centre.”
Over the course of his 15 years in financial services, Joseph has witnessed data and technology change and evolve to become more integral to the industry. Ultimately, he says, this has also helped shape his own career trajectory.
In just three years, Joseph has gone from strength to strength within the business and now manages a team which he’s built from the ground up. While he oversees the book of work, he says the team takes a collaborative approach.
“We are all developing solutions and always discussing data and code problems together. With our internally developed data automation framework, repeatability and scalability are paramount.”
“Centralising and making data accessible to the business is the goal,” Joseph says. “We’re on a data transformation journey, and making data easy accelerates what a business can do.”
As the business and technologies evolve, Joseph’s team tries to reengineer and uplift typically manual processes.
“We want our analytics solutions to create value, whether that’s by saving a person’s manual effort, reducing costs, creating deeper insights or generating revenue opportunities,” he says.
“A big part of how we deliver analytics is through the automation of data.”
Joseph’s role means he is involved in everything from solution design, data acquisition to database engineering. He’s working on Macquarie’s Corporate Data Hub to create datasets that enable dynamic, live, and flexible insights through tools such as Power BI.
“Most of our analytics work is off the back of big transformation projects like the recent on-platform implementation of a new general ledger. We do also build smaller bespoke automated end-to-end solutions as well.” Joseph says.
As an example of this, Joseph highlights streamlining the process of generating a risk report for senior management which previously took over three hours a fortnight to complete.
“We automated the data collection process and enabled the report to be daily in a PowerBI Dashboard,” Joseph says. “It saved time to generate the report, but the upside of this solution is that it has become a critical operations tool as the automation enabled the team to proactively manage their incoming actions to completion.”
“Our work means stakeholders can focus on insights and business decisions, instead of spending time manually collating information.”
Joseph says that big picture challenges can be interspersed from simple hands-on coding in the Analytics team.
“A large part of my day is spent discussing solution design with the stakeholder, then we go away and code it up,” he says.
“With our solutions, we are implementing change in the way our stakeholders operate, work and consume data so there’s a large element of education around what we are building and changing. We need to bridge the gap and communicate technical data concepts to establish how the solution needs to function and iteratively fine tune it along the way.”
The highlights of his time with Macquarie, Joseph says, are the opportunities to work with likeminded people on best-in-class technology, building interactive quant tools for front office teams, as well as attending tech summits and events. He also really enjoys the exposure to global stakeholders.
“Even though we are aligned to Macquarie Capital, we collaborate with other analytical teams and groups at Macquarie. We work with the Commodities and Global Markets group, finance, risk and retail banking teams through forums, where we share ideas and approaches that could be leveraged to enact Macquarie’s data strategy,” he explains.
Joseph says he gains satisfaction from driving meaningful change through his work, even when it’s invisible or “under-the-hood”.
Bringing a data analytics solution to life with a stakeholder and seeing the value take effect is what I find most rewarding.”
Joseph describes Macquarie as having a strong and vibrant culture.
“Macquarie is progressive - not just in tech and finance - but also in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion and with their green investments.”
“There’s a rigorous enterprise approach to delivering data solutions, and a strong investment in technology and people.”
It’s something Joseph says he has witnessed personally, after he was encouraged to enrol in a Strategic Leadership program to develop his skills and support his career trajectory.
“Macquarie is up there with specialist tech companies when it comes to driving change in the market,” Joseph says.
“Automated data and analytics is not just a priority, it’s integral to the future of financial services.”