The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Farewell to David Clarke, founder of Macquarie Bank

I knew David most of my life. He was a great man, and his passing, one and a half hours after my own son was born, is terribly sad. Enclosed below is a letter I sent him a few weeks ago. Our love goes out to Jane and David's family.

Dear David,

I want to let you know that my heartfelt thoughts are with you. I cannot begin to imagine what you have endured to date, and what you must now be going through.

What I do know is that you have already lived a remarkable life, you have brought two outstanding young men into this world, who have in turn forged their own families, and you have established an incredibly loving union with Jane.

I cannot think of many people who can match your achievements. You have built, from the ground up, arguably one of the world’s, and certainly Australia’s, most successful banks, which provides employment to more than 15,000 people, and has generated over $10 billion of value for its many shareholders. I was amazed to recently read that the Macquarie Foundation, which you started, had contributed $145 million alone to community groups.

It is an embarrassing statement of the obvious to observe that Macquarie is a truly iconic and now permanent global institution that has few real peers. For me, it is especially important that Macquarie does not simply act as a traditional intermediary, funneling capital between savers and borrowers. If it did so, it would be like any other bank.

Macquarie is different. It sees no borders to its business. In fact, Macquarie is all about breaking-down barriers and traditional commercial stereotypes. Macquarie is about breathing life into new, and more often than not, unrelated businesses that seek to improve the welfare of the communities they service. And, in contrast to almost all of its competitors, Macquarie has demonstrated a capacity to continuously reinvent itself through a relentless commitment to innovation.

In this respect, Macquarie has, under your long-term leadership, developed an extraordinary legacy of establishing new enterprises, and, indeed, entirely new economic markets. Of course, the most well known of these are the global infrastructure assets that are so vital to the effective functioning of the populations that utilise them, and which afford valuable diversification and stable cash-flows to the pensions that invest in them.

I also know that over and above Macquarie, you have been responsible for, and/or involved with, the inception of many other companies that collectively employ thousands of people.

On a more personal note, I have known Janey since I first walked, and, as best I can discern, she has been blissfully happy every minute that she has spent in your life. More than most couples I know, you two seem to have shared countless wonderful and rich experiences together.

If your circumstances do get more trying, you must know that Janey has an exceedingly deep and supportive group of friends to help her navigate through this adversity.

In many ways, Janey is, like you, another great Australian. I can honestly say that when I think of you both, I cannot identify a single negative memory, which, unfortunately, is all too rare a thing.

And this seems to be something that you have specialised in: the creation of very successful, durable partnerships. It is a gift of which you should feel proud.

When all is said and done, all that one can ask for in life is to have contributed positively to those that we share it with, and to have sought to have left the world in a better place than the one we first confronted. You have satisfied both these objectives in spades.

Australia is a different nation because of your labours. It is no exaggeration to claim that you have helped personally shape our shores, and will be remembered fondly and with gratitude as a consequence.

One day, I will be in a similar situation. We all eventually face our fate. If I can emulate just a small proportion of your deeds, I will pass a contented man and be able to embark on whatever lies in wait with happiness and humility.

Please accept my love and affection, and know that my family will be one of the many standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Janey.