Macquarie Group used to be known for taking risks, but the outgoing boss, Nicholas Moore, changed that during his decade-long tenure after the bruising experience of the global financial crisis.
The firm is now much less reliant on revenue from volatile investments in listed markets, with about 70 per cent of earnings coming from annuity-style investments, its infrastructure investments, financial services and corporate finance business.
Analysts are upbeat about the prospects for Macquarie, one of Australia's few truly global success stories.
Offshore income now accounts for more than half of group profits. About 62 per cent of its operating income is sourced overseas, with 24 per cent coming from North America alone.
Macquarie was a pioneer in owning infrastructure assets across transport, power, green energy, water and sanitation.
It bundles these up in funds managed by Macquarie's asset management division - its most successful business line - which has more than $495 billion of assets under management and accounts for almost two-thirds ($1.7 billion) of Macquarie Group's total profit.
On Thursday at its annual general meeting, Macquarie left its financial year 2019 guidance unchanged. Its outlook for full-year earnings remains in line with 2017-18, when it made a record $2.56 billion profit, and record operating income of $10.9 billion.
It was no surprise when the head of the asset management division, Shemara Wikramanayake, was announced at the AGM as the replacement for Mr Moore when he retires at the end of November.
"This should enable a smooth transition," Bell Potter analyst TS Lim said.
He said the "company’s transformation since the GFC, as well as exceptional risk management and emphasis on lower earnings volatility", had contributed to its success. He sees further infrastructure growth opportunities for the company in North America and Europe.
Hugh Dive, the chief investment officer at Atlas Funds Management, said the appointment of Ms Wikramanayake was a sign that Macquarie was likely to continue to increase its weighting towards annuity businesses. When the company was so successful, there was no reason to change strategy, he said.
Under Mr Moore's leadership over 10 years, the company's shares have increased more than 130 per cent. This fiscal year, the company returned about 70 per cent of its profit – or about $1.6 billion –to shareholders in dividends.
Macquarie had been through a lot of change but seemed to have hit on a model that was working well, Mr Dive said.
"The company has reinvented itself as a fund manager with an increasing focus on annuity-style earnings, with less reliance on one-off profits from selling an asset to one of its funds or floating one of its private equity investments on the sharemarket," he said.
"That has been improving the quality of Macquarie's earnings and reducing volatility; though this change has only appeared to be fully appreciated by the market over the last 12 months."
Ms Wikramanayake, 56, has been at Macquarie for 30 years - the last 10 running asset management. She said she wanted to "perpetuate the legacy Nicholas leaves behind" and would be spending a lot of time working with him during the handover, and travelling to different parts of the business.
“I don’t feel any urgency to change, it’s not like when I stepped into asset management after the global financial crisis," she said.
Peter Warnes, the head of equities research at Morningstar Financial, is not expecting any changes to strategy.
"Macquarie has a good brand globally and Wikramanayake is the right person to take over given that it's the annuity-style businesses that are the drivers of the business now," Mr Warnes said.
David Ellis, head of Australian banking research at Morningstar, said there would be no change in strategy.
"Ms Wikramanayake will enhance Macquarie’s focus on the interconnectedness between different business units within the Macquarie Group, with emphasis on the global infrastructure and energy investment sectors," he said.
Brett Le Mesurier, senior analyst at Shaw and Partners, described Ms Wikramanayake as "probably one of the best finance executives in the Australian market".
"When a CEO departs, drama ensues all too often," he said. "Macquarie's share price assumes that continued financial prosperity and stability lie in wait."
Macquarie's share price was up 1.43 per cent to $123.44 at 1.36pm on Friday.