The Australian mortgage broking industry has shown its resilience in times of uncertainty. It’s now time for us to come together once again and to be of maximum support to every Australian in need of credit assistance, writes PLAN Australia CEO Anja Pannek.
In the words of Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe, we are living in extraordinary times.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on communities across the globe. While the full economic and social impact of this rapidly evolving situation is difficult to measure, what we can – and should – be doing is helping each other and our customers.
At PLAN Australia, we are committed to supporting our members and their businesses throughout this time of uncertainty. We are proud to be a strong and sustainable aggregator with strong capital backing of NAB.
The Australian broking industry has shown how resilient it can be in the face of previous economic crises, change and uncertainties. We need to remain united throughout our industry – together we can, and will, overcome challenges and continue to be of service to our customers.
Business continuity planning
There are a few important issues brokers should be considering at this time. Critically, you should be reviewing your business continuity plans, including:
Be extra vigilant around your own business’s cyber security.
Working with customers experiencing hardship
Both the Reserve Bank governor and the Prime Minister have accepted that Australians are likely to lose jobs in the event we enter a recession. Some of the unemployed could be your clients.
It is critical that you do whatever it takes to keep your business fully operational so that you can be of service to those clients who are facing financial hardship. A broker’s role is vital in assisting customers in the bad times as well as the good. There will be many people throughout the community who will need your assistance over the coming months.
Many lenders are now beginning to announce mortgage and commercial debt repayment breaks and other assistance programs for those affected. There is much brokers can be doing to support their customers who may require this help.
As business owners, brokers who find themselves in financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 should speak to their bank also around what assistance they can access.
The way we live, communicate, socialise and work will be altered as we to enter the unchartered waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. For how long and to what extent this disruption will impact our daily lives remains uncertain.
Mortgage brokers have important relationships with more than half of the home owners across the country. You helped your customers through one of the most joyful milestones in life – purchasing a new home. Some of those customers may be feeling anxious about their current situation. Many will be feeling overwhelmed at the state of events unfolding, while others may be experiencing significant changes to their working lives, travel arrangements and social engagements.
I encourage all of you to stay close to your clients during these uncertain times. They need to know that they have a trusted professional by their side.
Looking after yourself and your staff
It is also important that we all take measures as best we can to ensure our own personal health and safety, and the welfare of those closest to us. Follow both federal and state government and Australian Health directions and advice – please.
Social connection is so important as is health and wellbeing. Stay connected within your broker community and through brokers within your aggregator group. This doesn’t need to be business or work-related – just a call to check in on each other goes a long way. Importantly also, taking care of your own health – sleeping, exercise, diet – is now more important than ever.
We recognize this is a very uncertain and potentially stressful time for many. PLAN Australia, through NAB, offers an assistance program called MyCoach to all its staff, a service that is also available to all PLAN Australia members.
MyCoach is an Australian company providing employees with confidential phone counselling and digital support 24/7 in Australia and overseas. During this difficult time, we encourage all PLAN Australia members to use this service and reach out for help should you need it.
We are all in this together, and it is together that we will overcome adversity.
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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