Sydney-based Macquarie Group Ltd’s top commodities trader Nick O’Kane has secured a salary that’s higher than the firm’s CEO’s take-home pay, reports an article in Bloomberg. O’Kane took charge of the firm’s commodities and global markets division in 2019, which has been fundamental to Macquarie’s record annual profit. According to the firm’s annual report, O’Kane’s salary has now bumped 59% to A$57.6 million ($38.6 million) through March 2023, compared to CEO Shemara Wikramanayake whose salary rose 27% to A$32.8 million.
Fueled by an increase in hedging and trading activity, as well as volatility in the commodities market, profits in O’Kane’s division surged 54% to A$6 billion, according to Bloomberg. His salary is now higher than the CEOs of some of the biggest banks in the US such as Citigroup and JPMorganChase, where Jane Fraser and Jamie Dimon earned $24.5 billion and $34.5 million in 2022, respectively. The energy sector has brought much growth to Macquarie since it acquired Cook Inlet Energy Supply in 2005 and Constellation Energy’s downstream natural gas trading platform in 2009, and O’Kane built on that with a system of leases of gas and energy transmission networks, propelling him to become the top player in the U.S. market. His massive salary was defended by Macquarie chairman Glenn Stevens, who pointed to the fierce competition for talent in the global marketplace and highlighted O’Kane’s work over the years, saying in a recent call that “he’s put that collection of businesses over 25 years, assembled an incredibly capable team…and the model here is that the people that generate the return, share with shareholders in that return,” Bloomberg reports.
Through its hedging products and by providing capital to metals, energy, and agricultural businesses, Macquarie assists its clients in managing volatility as well as seizing opportunities in trading commodities “where there is an imbalance between the supply and demand for commodities” by creating storage and transportation, according to a recent Macquarie report. That operation helped bolster income, accounting for over half of the firm’s profits, and is quite unique; U.S. peers Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have recently had to pull back on their commodities trading activities due to regulations, the article reports. And Macquarie is known as a firm that likes to say “yes” more than “no”; in a video on Macquarie’s website, O’Kane says that anyone with “a great idea…will get the opportunity to be able to chase that idea down and build a business and you never now what that might come into.”