Telum Talks To... Joyce Moullakis, Senior Banking Reporter at The Australian

Telum Talks To... Joyce Moullakis, Senior Banking Reporter at The Australian

By Rhys Evans

Tell us about your career so far?
My career has focused on business journalism, covering banking and financial services, mergers and acquisitions, and investment banking. I have worked in Sydney for The Australian and The Australian Financial Review, and in London and Sydney with Bloomberg.

My current role centres on banking and related sectors, and writing a weekly column. There isn't really an average day in my round, but usually I scour the ASX for relevant releases and check in with contacts to get a sense of what's happening in the industry spanning important events / deals / regulatory changes and / or people movements.

Do you find yourself regularly collaborating with other reporters and departments at The Australian? 
My role involves regular collaboration with colleagues in the business section on stories, and sometimes also with the Canberra bureau or Economics Correspondent. Financial services touches many areas of the economy and particularly with interest rates rising so sharply over the past year, mortgage repayments and cost-of-living pressures have been a hot topic. 

How has the banking / finance sector changed throughout your career?
When I first started covering the banking sector in the early 2000s, we were purely focused on print coverage and refining stories for the next day's paper. The dynamic has completely changed as coverage now is almost instant with business blogs and stories online within minutes of announcements or profit results. 

On another point, getting access to executives used to be easier, but I feel communications people have put more barriers up between journalists and banking and finance executives. Good journalists will always find a way around this!

You recently co-wrote the book The Millionaires' Factory with former Asia Correspondent of Euromoney Asia, Chris Wright. What sparked or inspired the idea for the book and what can readers expect?
The idea came about during Covid-19 lockdown when I started researching book ideas and just couldn't believe someone hadn't already written a comprehensive tome about Macquarie's evolution.

Australia has very few companies that are successful on the global stage and Macquarie's story - from a small offshoot of a UK merchant bank to a formidable investment bank, asset manager and large player in infrastructure and commodities - is fascinating. There were certainly issues and scandals along the way as Macquarie grew, including an insider trading case and cultural issues that led to an enforceable undertaking, but the firm's ability to evolve and spot opportunities has worked well and proven lucrative for long-standing staff and shareholders. 

The book traverses Macquarie's journey from a domestic bank to a global player, the near-death experience of the GFC and how the bank capitalised on the environment with several well-timed acquisitions in its aftermath. It also documents how Macquarie built a huge commodities business at the same time as pushing into renewable energy investments. We delve into deals that helped shape Macquarie including the acquisition of Sydney Airport and the purchases of Delaware and Constellation, while also touching on some big ticket transactions that failed like tilts for the London Stock Exchange and Qantas. 

The book aims to shed light on the firm's culture which is extremely different to that of Australia's major banks and also contrasts to that of the bulge bracket investment banks.

The big question it also poses is where to from here for Macquarie? We delve into whether it can maintain its unique approach as it scales up in staff numbers and markets around the world. 

What do you wish to see more or less of in regards to receiving PR pitches?
I don't often work with PRs unless it's a very compelling idea or topic. Random pitches and emails that show a person has no idea what I cover or have written about over recent weeks are really frustrating!

If PRs want to cut through, they should do their research, know the subject and understand what the reporter has been writing about. Targeted ideas and proposals that are pitched in a well-researched way or to flesh out a subject that has been topical, are often best.

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Joyce Moullakis

Senior Banking Reporter

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