The tumultuous 12 months following the release of the royal commission final report have strengthened the broking industry and united mortgage professionals across Australia, writes PLAN Australia chief executive officer Anja Pannek.
I had the opportunity to travel around the country towards the end of 2019 and connect with PLAN Australia members who, like all of us, had been through a rollercoaster year. Their uncertainty back in February 2019 had been palpable, and for good reason.
Today, the industry is in a rock-solid position to defend itself for Australian consumers for whom mortgage brokers are the preferred channel for achieving their home ownership dreams.
The release of the royal commission final report on 4 February 2019 created intense levels of uncertainty throughout the mortgage broking sector. That’s an important point to make – it wasn’t just one segment of the industry that was thrown into a state of anxiety; it was all of us: brokers, aggregators, lenders and all of the people who support home loan customers throughout the sector.
It left us uncertain about what the future would look like. There was simply no roadmap when Commissioner Hayne delivered his recommendations 12 months ago.
The primary concern at the time was: What would happen if the broker remuneration model were to change? What would that look like? What would it mean for competition and, more importantly, for customers?
As an industry, we needed the government to respond very clearly on Hayne’s recommendations about the best interests duty, a code of conduct, mandatory breach reporting and remuneration in the mortgage broking industry.
Election year challenge
As if the uncertainty surrounding the final report wasn’t enough to contend with, 2019 was also an election year, which only added to the complexity of the situation.
Engaging with both sides of parliament was therefore critical, particularly around remuneration.
Following the Coalition’s victory, we had some certainty and clarity on the government’s proposed reforms and PLAN Australia was able to work together with brokers and other industry participants on creating clarity for the industry moving forward.
I believe we will look back in a decade or so and view 2019 as the defining year for our industry. But it is important to recognise that we were united by a separate set of challenges many months before the royal commission was announced.
The Combined Industry Forum: a united voice
The formation of the Combined Industry Forum (CIF) was an important milestone for the mortgage industry and a platform that was originally created in response to the 2017 ASIC Remuneration Review.
The industry came together to form the CIF and we were all able to articulate to the government and ASIC why protecting broker remuneration was intrinsically linked to good customer outcomes.
Mortgage customers have been voting with their feet for many years now, and the growth of broker market share is one of the most powerful demonstrations of their satisfaction with the current mortgage broking model.
What we didn’t realise in 2017 was that the establishment of the CIF would be the key to a powerful platform of self-regulation and a unified voice ready for the Royal Commission recommendations, when they were handed down two years later.
I believe we are now well positioned for even greater success in 2020 and beyond. We didn’t wait for the regulators to come along and raise their concerns.
If we hadn’t started on that path, back in 2017, things might look very different today. The establishment of the Combined Industry Forum was defining and unique.
Mortgage broking is a relationships-based industry and people want to do the right thing by their customers. Fundamentally, I believe that is why we were able to come together so well: we were all working for the benefit of customers and the value those customers find in a relationship with their broker.
2020 and beyond
The unity that has been created has opened a level of respect and open dialogue across the industry to enable us to respond to the Treasury and ASIC in a powerful, timely manner.
As we reflect on the anniversary of the Hayne final report, it is equally important to focus on the present.
The government recently released draft legislation for consultation based on 22 recommendations from the royal commission final report.
There is a cohesive passage of reforms that are set to be brought in, and — as an industry — we must ensure that these laws adhere to their desired outcome.
As mortgage professionals, we know our industry better than anyone.
With the Combined Industry Forum as our platform, we are now perfectly placed to provide input on what will and won’t work for us and our customers as we continue to lift industry standards.
Anja has 20 plus years commercial experience and a deep understanding of the third party financial services sector. She has held a number of senior industry roles over a 12-year period and has been the CEO of PLAN Australia since October 2016.
Prior to her current role, Anja was CFO of NAB’s Personal Banking division, which employed over 7,000 people and serviced the needs of over four million consumer and small business customers through retail, third party, direct and digital channels.
Anja also has extensive experience in third party, as CFO of Challenger’s Mortgage Management division and was a member of the management team involved in the demerger of PLAN Australia from Challenger to National Australia in 2009.
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