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Glen Skarott, deputy group financial controller with Macquarie Group, leads the setup of the company's Jacksonville office.
Jax Daily Record Friday, Feb. 5, 201612:00 PM EST

Macquarie opening with room to grow

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Australia-based Macquarie Group already has expansion in mind on the Southbank, where it will open Monday.

The global financial-services company will start with 60 employees on the fifth floor of Riverplace Tower, and anticipates reaching 85 by the end of March and 135 in 2017.

“We are anticipating success,” said Glen Skarott, deputy group financial controller.

To prepare, it already has leased the fourth floor as it contemplates eventual growth. While it’s aspirational and Skarott said no number is confirmed, the two floors could accommodate a team of 250.

Skarott is based at headquarters in Sydney, Australia, but will remain in Jacksonville for six months. He led the site search that ended in Jacksonville after the company considered 17 cities in five countries.

Skarott, Macquarie executives and city and business leaders announced in July the company had chosen Jacksonville as a global banking shared-services office. The company decided to open in Riverplace Tower at 1301 Riverplace Blvd.

The team will provide finance, accounting, tax and regulatory support and other services to Macquarie functions in the U.S. and in some European markets. The United States is a large growth market.

The company has more than 70 offices in 28 countries. Its U.S. headquarters are in New York and it has offices around the states.

In coming to Jacksonville, Macquarie agreed to create 123 jobs by the end of 2017 and pay an average wage of $64,356, in addition to benefits.

Skarott said 800 applications were made for the initial Jacksonville jobs. Of those, the group invited 200 applicants for a first round of interviews.

He said 80 moved to the second round and about 40 were hired from that group.

Skarott reached his goal of a team comprising an equal number of men and women, and he also said the staff represents diverse backgrounds.

The 60 employees coalescing as a team Monday comprise 40 local hires and 20 transferred within the Macquarie Group. They come from offices in London, Hong Kong, India, New York, Houston and Sydney.

Those transfers are the company’s “culture carriers,” who uphold Macquarie Group’s culture and values and can share it with others.

Jacksonville’s office will comprise five teams: product control; legal entity control; regulatory reporting; tax reporting and compliance; and financial control.

Macquarie initially is leasing about 17,500 square feet on the fifth floor at Riverplace Tower. That space is set up for 125 employees, but could fit in more, Skarott said.

If it turns out Macquarie doesn’t need the 17,500 feet of space on the fourth floor, it could sublease it, although Skarott said the preference is to use it.

He said he hasn’t spoken with the city or state about financial assistance for the potential expansion.

For the first 123 jobs, the City Council approved taxpayer incentives of $393,600, comprising a Qualified Target Industry grant of up to $147,600 and a training grant up to $246,000.

Macquarie also requested $1.37 million from the state, consisting of the QTI match of up to $590,400, a Quick Action Closing Fund up to $500,000 and a Quick Response Training Grant up to $282,900.

Macquarie said it expected to invest $2.2 million into improving its leased space. Adding in IT, equipment and furniture boosts that to at least $3.1 million.

The open-office layout is designed for flexibility, Skarott said. While staff will start at set desks, they soon will be allowed to sit anywhere.

Employees, who will be issued laptops, can choose whichever workstation works best for the task at hand. Each station features a monitor, docking station, keyboard and phone.

There also are stand-up stations for those who don’t want to sit.

Collaboration areas are designed for teamwork. Glass-walled spaces are available for small meetings or private conversations.

A large conference room features a table that is a collection of workstations that can be arranged classroom-style or however needed.

State-of-the-art technology is throughout, including a live feed to the New York office that soon will include a split screen to also include Houston, India and Sydney.

There’s a wellness area and there’s also town hall space that can be used for training. The break area includes coffee and breakfast foods — cereal, fruit and toast — for staff.

He said Macquarie works on a “clean desk policy,” so each staff member has access to a private locker for storage.

The open-office area is common for Macquarie’s offices. “We’re all moving in this direction,” he said.

When the office opens Monday, the employees will meet Macquarie executives from around the world for a three-week induction program.

“And then we start work,” Skarott said.

[email protected]

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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