The Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert MP and Andrew Wallace MP are “supportive of brokers”, several leading Queensland brokers have said following a meeting with the politicians.
As discussed in the Elite Broker podcast with SMS Finance broker Colin Mason earlier this month, a group of leading Queensland brokers and representatives from AFG and the MFAA have met with Andrew Wallace MP, member for Fisher, and Stuart Robert MP, member for Fadden, to discuss the value of brokers and the royal commission.
The meeting, which was called by Mr Wallace and coordinated by SMS Finance director and finance broker John McNamara, took place in Queensland on Wednesday (19 December) before a luncheon forum with the two MPs.
Speaking to The Adviser following the meeting, Mr McNamara said that he felt that both Mr Wallace and Mr Robert were supportive of brokers and the current remuneration structure.
Mr McNamara said: “My local MP, Andrew Wallace, the member for Fisher (for whom I've acted as broker some years ago), is interested in our occupation and he is probably as concerned as I am after some of the recent happenings of the royal commission. So, when he had the Assistant Treasurer coming up, he arranged a meeting and a lunch for myself to arrange some brokers to go along and tell the Assistant Treasurer what we thought.”
After coordinating with his aggregator, AFG, and receiving information and support from them and his broker association (the MFAA), Mr McNamara brought together a group of 13 broking representatives to discuss the broker channel with the politicians.
According to the SMS Finance director, both Mr Robert and Mr Wallace were “very receptive” to the group, with Mr Robert acknowledging straight off the bat that “brokers were so important because they write 55 per cent of home loans”.
Questions raised at the meeting largely centred over the financial services royal commission and the future of the mortgage broking industry, Mr McNamara said.
“The first thing I asked him was his thoughts on the royal commission and the direction that it was heading. His answer was along the lines that the federal government is supportive of small business and brokers. He didn’t see that broking needed to change or that trail needs to be dramatically changed for mortgage brokers. So those comment were very encouraging for all of us,” the finance broker told The Adviser.
He elaborated: “Stuart Robert felt things like conflicted remuneration or trail payment to financial planners out of superannuation accounts were areas that would definitely need to be looked at closely by the royal commission. But he said that, really, Australians don’t like paying fees, so a fee for service for a home loan. It appeared that Stuart Robert was supportive of us.
“I feel a lot more comfortable that our trail commission is somewhat safe and that these changes to our industry may not be as dramatic as we were worried about after Matt Comyn’s piece at the royal commission.”
Other brokers at the meeting raised how any drastic changes to broking could affect the livelihood of brokers, who are not only providing choice and competition in the home loan market, but also supporting the local economy and employing staff.
Home Loan Connexion director and broker Tracy Kearey, who attended the meeting, told The Adviser that she also felt that the Assistant Treasurer was supportive of brokers.
She said: “He was very engaging and knew about our industry. He was educated in this area and had a lot of knowledge about the mortgage broking industry, as did Andrew Wallace. He didn’t shy away from any questions from us; he was open, humorous and approachable.
“I was impressed that he knew who we were and the challenges we faced as small businesses, as well as what we represent to the community and the Australian economy. I felt like we were really heard. Both he and Andrew Wallace seemed very supportive of the initiatives that we have brought out and the service that we offer our clients and communities.”
Ms Kearey added that Mr Robert was interested in having “bigger communities and a smaller government” and supporting “smaller businesses over big businesses”.
“They want smaller businesses to be having more of a say and impact on smaller communities and generating wealth for the country and for themselves,” she said.
“I felt like he was a big advocate for our industry and that he believes that the remuneration model for brokers is not to detrimental to the client (at least, that was my understanding of his comments).
“He seemed to think that trail should stay and that the way we are paid is not detrimental to the client. Because, culturally, Australians would not seem to want to pay for a mortgage service, so how do we change a whole culture to pay for it?”
Ms Kearey added: “I thought that a politician would just give you lip service and not really understand what we were about. But he didn’t do that. He really understood us and could see our passion from our side and spoke sincerely, I thought. I felt really impressed with him and Andrew Wallace and they were really supportive of our questions and concerns.”
Mr McNamara suggested that any brokers looking to speak to their local or federal politicians would be best placed by liaising with their aggregators and associations as well as “keeping it simple”.
He advised: “I’ve been meeting with my local MPs on different areas of finance for about two years, and I’ve learned that you have to keep your message simple, short and to the point.
“There were three things that we focused on; brokers offer competition, service and choice. So, everything we were saying were tying back to those three points, and that made it clear.”
He concluded: “I came away from the meeting feeling upbeat, positive and feeling that this government is a strong supporter of mortgage brokers, so that will massively influence how I vote for the current government. But I’m in a safe seat – so I need all my mortgage broker friends in marginal seats in Australia to have a think about it!”
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
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