Daniel Wong is executive director and head of European infrastructure and utilities at Macquarie Capital. Macquarie’s infrastructure and utilities advisory team is growing. Daniel explains why.
Q. How many people do you have in your London-based infrastructure advisory team right now?
Daniel: We currently have 50 people in the European infrastructure and utilities advisory team – making it the largest infrastructure advisory team in the region. Most of the infrastructure team is based in London, with advisory teams on the ground in Dublin, Frankfurt, Berlin, Amsterdam and Madrid and strong links to the global team.
Q: Where are your biggest European offices outside London?
Daniel: Macquarie Capital has around 20 people on the ground in Frankfurt covering infrastructure and other sectors too. Our offices in Dublin, Madrid and Amsterdam are smaller offices with anything from 2-5 people.
We tend to have senior advisory staff in our Continental European offices, and we do most of our junior and mid-level recruiting in London. If you’re a junior team member it can be more rewarding to be based in London because here you get a chance to participate in a diverse range of deals across the entire platform. One month you could be working on a toll road in Spain, the next you could be working on an airport in the UK.
Q: So, you intend to hire over the next 12 months?
Daniel: Yes. Due to high levels of deal activity, we are currently looking to add around five people to our team, including three or four at associate-level (3-4 years experience) and two senior vice presidents with experience in transport, power & utilities and debt.
Q: Can you clarify how much experience your associates and senior vice presidents usually have?
Daniel: Senior vice presidents usually have between 8 and 10 years of experience. In other words, they’re experienced, but they’re not senior MDs. We have a very strong team of senior people covering infrastructure and utilities and we have a number of junior directors who are coming through. From a team-management point of view, we keen to see those people grow and progress in their careers.
Q: You’re also looking for associates. Does that mean you’ll be hiring MBAs?
Daniel: MBAs are welcome. However, we don’t automatically look for MBAs to fill our associate positions. Infrastructure work is very financially detailed and technical so we need people who are very numerate and have detailed modelling experience. We are looking for people with a background in M&A in investment banking or from project finance teams at lending institutions and sometimes structured finance professionals will transition across.
Q: Do you look for people with language skills?
Daniel: Obviously English is key, but it’s an advantage if you can speak other languages from around the region.
Q. Why is the infrastructure advisory team expanding?
Daniel: Lots of deal activity. On the demand side, pension funds and institutions are increasing their allocation to infrastructure. And in terms of deal flow, Governments and European companies are privatising infrastructure, or selling due to the increasing cost of capital.
Q. How do you see Macquarie’s infrastructure advisory business developing in EMEA in the next three years?
Daniel: Infrastructure is a core area of expertise for Macquarie. The industry dynamics I referred to earlier mean that the solid level of deal flow is likely to continue, and our depth of infrastructure advisory experience is becoming increasingly relevant on both sides of the equation – sell side and buy side. Where appropriate, we also provide capital to support client transactions.
Q: Why should infrastructure bankers want to join Macquarie instead of your competitors?
Daniel: Macquarie Capital is the single biggest specialist infrastructure merchant banking and advisory business in Europe. It is also a genuinely global business. Infrastructure is part of the Macquarie Group DNA, with our funds management, asset finance and lending businesses also strong participants in the infrastructure sector.
Q: Do you hire people at graduate level?
Daniel: Yes. We’ve taken seven graduates into the infrastructure team this year. We also run an internship programme and have been working with interns over the past few months – some of whom we have made offers to. We generally expect our graduate hires to be studying a numerate degree.