Myer family restructures its investment empire

The Myer family is restructuring its multi-billion-dollar investment empire, including rebranding its prestigious family office.

The Myer family is restructuring its multi-billion-dollar investment empire, including rebranding its prestigious family office and appointing an external chairman and board for the first time in its history as part of a fresh assault on the private wealth market.

Following a year-long review of its operations conducted in liaison with international consultancy Interbrand, the family has changed the name of its Myer Family Company to “MFCo’’ and removed the famous bird from the Myer crest from the new logo.

It has also appointed Carnival Australia chief executive Ann Sherry as the group’s inaugural external chairman and is seeking another two external directors to join the MFCo board, in addition to Ms Sherry and Myer family members Sid Myer and Martin Myer.

Martyn Myer is chairman of the family’s ultimate private holding company, which has been ­renamed Myer Family Investments.

“We wanted to make it very clear in the market that the family’s investment company is one thing but the public face of the family and its business is MFCo. The parent company is in fact a client of MFCo,’’ Martyn Myer told The Australian.

“In this exercise we really thought hard about who we are, what we do and why we do it.’’

The move comes as the family has revealed for the first time that MFCo’s funds under management has doubled over the past five years and currently stand at $2.75 billion.

MFCo now manages money for more than 120 wealthy family client groups after increasing its client base by almost a third over the past two years. “There is some serious grunt there in terms of the actual funds under management,’’ said MFCo’s national head of private wealth management, Fintan Maher.

The restructure comes as competition heats up in the battle to manage the affairs of the nation’s super-rich, with a number of family offices managing more external money and the local banks, global accounting firms and international investment banks pushing hard into the space.

But Ms Sherry claimed there were very few players who could rival MFCo’s offering.

“Our feedback from our current customers is that we are literally the only player in the market at the moment that don’t have a product to sell, who are talking about relationships. We have no one who is incentivised to sell any product,’’ she said.

“We are not product sellers. It is a human touch business that listens to what people’s aspirations are. It doesn’t say ‘Here is the product, take it or leave it’.’’

Ms Sherry said all of the Myer family members had been engaged in the restructuring and were prepared to offer their expertise to clients of MFCo on ­issues such as succession planning, philanthropy and managing the intergenerational transfer of wealth.

“It is not an explicit sales pitch but there is opportunity to talk to members of the family as part of the MFCo offering,” she said.

“All of the family members that are on the various boards are part of the thinking in how we do things. They are available for dinners and various events.

“We do reach into their expertise on succession.’’

There are 46 members of the fourth generation of the Myer family, ranging in age from 10 to 40.

“It is a very important item on my agenda as chairman (of Myer Family Investments) to engage the next generation,’’ Mr Myer said.

As part of the restructuring the family has also given formal responsibilities to external members of the Myer Family Investments board for the first time. The 10-member board has representatives of the four Myer family branches as well as chief executive Peter Hodgson, deputy chairman Peter Yates, Skilled Group chairman Vickki McFadden, former Alcoa senior executive Lloyd Jones and Ms Sherry.

“In rearranging the governance arrangements we decided to look at each board member at the parent company and work out where they were best suited in terms of their skills and experience,’’ Martyn Myer said.

“In terms of MFCo’s case, I asked Ann to chair it given her extensive banking experience. Peter Yates now chairs the investment committee of the holding company, Vickki chairs the audit committee and Lloyd Jones chairs a subsidiary in sand mining (Metro Quarry Group).’’

This article was first published in The Australian Business Review.

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