MLC’s life beyond the vertical integration scenario

Sometimes Outsider walks into a room and he feels right at home. MLC Life’s 130th Anniversary Dinner at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art was just such an occasion.

Why, you ask? Well, because Outsider found himself rubbing shoulders with people who were as old, or older than he and whose memory of the Australian financial services industry extended back to a time when bankers were bankers and the vertical integration scenario was a café jazz quartet that never quite caught on.

What MLC’s 130th Anniversary bash taught Outsider was that longevity can and does exist in the financial services industry and that being owned by a bank is like being convicted of manslaughter – a lengthy inconvenience but not a life sentence.

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Of course, MLC Life is now majority (80 per cent) owned by Nippon Life which, as Outsider discovered, is also 127 years old, which means that both companies have continued to do business through some interesting historical times – the first World War when Australia and Japan were on the same side and WWII when they were not.

Basil Fawlty may have had trouble not mentioning the war, but credit to MLC Life chief executive, David Hackett and Nippon Life’s Hiroyuki Nishi (“Nishi San”) for noting but not dwelling on difficult former times.

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