Corporate Leader Of Sri Lankan Origin Shemara Wikramanayake New CEO Of Global Financial Company Macquarie

Shemara Wikramanayake is set to become the first female chief executive of Macquarie Group, taking over from Nicholas Moore, whose decade-long stint in the top job is coming to an end.

Her father is a Sri Lankan and she studied in Sri Lanka for some time. 

The retirement of Moore and appointment of Wikramanayake, will make her the country's top female executive at a time of intense regulatory and economic headwinds for financial companies.

The elevation of  Wikramanayake, who has worked at Macquarie since 1987 and ran its $495 billion asset management arm for more than a decade, marks a new phase for a company known for its record of beating profit expectations.

"It's always a challenging decision but after 10 years it felt like the time is right," Mr Moore said on an analyst call before the bank's annual meeting.

"With Shemara, we have a really outstanding successor."

Macquarie shares fell 2.8 per cent to $121.42 (at 1:00pm AEST) after the bank coupled its announcement of a CEO change with a forecast of flat profit growth in 2019.

The shares have surged 134 per cent over the 10 years under Mr Moore's leadership as the bank almost continually grew profits and beat forecasts.

She was the bank's second-highest paid person in the 2018 financial year, its annual report revealed.

Furthermore, she earned a total $16.7 million, less only than Mr Moore who took home $18.9 million.

Fairfax Media reported last year that the 56-year-old had never sold a Macquarie share in her 30 years with the company.

Wikramanayake takes the role at the start of what is expected to be a tough phase for financial services companies in Australia.

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