Date posted: 7/07/2017 2 min read

Land in Mexico lends Simon Hanna CA, a great role

Simon Hanna CA is acting CFO, FIBRA Macquarie México, at the Mexico City office of Macquarie Group. He speaks candidly to Acuity about the benefits of his chartered accountancy background.

In brief

  • At Macquarie Group's Mexico City office, Simon Hanna had to learn the Mexican real estate and listed markets quickly.
  • At FIBRA Macquarie he has experienced substantial capital markets activity and in 2016 US$900m in new debt was raised.
  • His chartered accountancy background has been beneficial when facing sophisticated investors. The challenge is to adapt the level of detail for each stakeholder.

Tell us about your role.

The business is a listed real estate investment trust, targeting industrial, retail and office real estate opportunities in Mexico. The portfolio consists of 277 industrial properties and 17 retail/office properties, located in 24 cities across 19 Mexican states (as at 30 September 2016).

I am a member of the finance division which provides financial, tax and treasury services to all areas of Macquarie including financial management and control, management reporting and forecasting, regulatory reporting, and business advisory.

How did you find yourself there?

After completing my accounting studies at the University of NSW, I joined Macquarie’s Sydney office as a graduate.

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In March 2004, after five years, I moved to Macquarie’s London office as part of the team establishing MIRA’s European infrastructure funds platform. It was an exciting time of new business growth with some really interesting transactions.

By 2010 I was CFO for the Macquarie Russia & CIS Infrastructure Fund, which represented a fresh set of challenges.

A chartered accountancy background is beneficial when facing sophisticated investors. The challenge is to adapt the level of detail for each stakeholder – it’s about knowing your clients and addressing their key concerns.
In 2013 I transferred to Macquarie’s Mexico City office. This was a time of fast learning about Mexican real estate and listed markets.

What does your typical day look like?

During the quarterly earnings season, we run a tight timetable to get results and messaging to market. There is a good deal of time spent on investor relations, including meetings with fund managers and sell-side analysts.

FIBRA Macquarie can have substantial capital markets activity. For example, we raised US$900m in new debt in 2016, which means spending a lot of time dealing with different parties. It is very interesting to be involved in property acquisitions.

A chartered accountancy background is beneficial when facing sophisticated investors. The challenge is to adapt the level of detail for each stakeholder – it’s about knowing your clients and addressing their key concerns.

What do you like most and least?

Most: I feel privileged to work in a fast-paced and dedicated team that is part of a growing industry and sector.

Least: I have found learning Spanish challenging, and I wish I had a magic button to make me an instant multi-lingual expert.

When you choose accountancy, where did you expect to end up?

I had no master plan. At school in Armidale, I distinctly remember my father telling me that the accounting profession would give me a solid career. I followed my father’s advice, but accountancy has been so much more than just a solid career. Through Macquarie it has offered me so many great life and professional experiences.

Would you recommend an overseas posting?

Absolutely. An overseas posting presents so many challenges, both professional and personal. It inevitably means that you develop different networks, understand different cultures, plus see the way businesses vary – and are the same.

One of the benefits of being a CA is that it is a profession that can take you virtually anywhere you want, regardless of business sector or geography. Staying close with family and friends can be hard, but technology these days really helps in between the long flights back home.

This article was first published in the June/July issue of Acuity magazine.