The founder and chairman of mortgage brokerage Aussie, John Symond, has announced his retirement.
The 73-year-old founder and chairman of Aussie, John Symond, is to retire from the company after starting it up nearly 30 years ago.
The former CEO and current chairman had helped establish the broking industry in Australia, with his iconic “We’ll Save You” brand, which started in 1992.
Mr Symond commented: “My retirement from the role comes at a very good time for Aussie as it is posting record loan settlements, despite the pandemic, and has a very strong management team in place, led by my nephew James.
“I have had a long and rewarding journey with Aussie, which now has a team of over 1,000 people – covering staff, mortgage brokers and franchisees in over 200 stores across Australia.
“I am most proud of leading the revolution that has helped millions of Australian consumers by lowering their costs through increased competition amongst the major lenders in providing cheaper interest rates and better customer service,” added Mr Symond.
Aussie CEO James Symond said: “John has been a guiding force for Aussie and for me personally over many years, and we congratulate him on a long and successful career as a pioneer of the non-bank and mortgage broking sectors. John leaves a huge legacy, but the future of Aussie remains strong and the business is forging ahead with its ambitious growth plans.”
Effective immediately, Geoff Austin has been appointed as non-executive director and chairman of Aussie.
Mr Austin is currently chair of Commonwealth Insurance Ltd and a director of Colonial Mutual Assurance Ltd and AIA Australia Ltd.
Following the announcement, the managing director of the Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA), Peter White, said: “The Finance Brokers Association of Australia pays tribute to John Symond for his huge contribution to the mortgage broking industry over the past 30 years and wishes him the very best in retirement. He was a pioneer and started the evolution that has shaped our industry and resulted in most Australians currently using brokers to purchase their homes.
“Aussie Home Loans was the founding industry brand and developed much of the product innovation and industry competitiveness that has resulted in benefits to Australian consumers who, in times past, were forced to deal within an uncompetitive and monopolised banking sector. What John started is now carried on by his nephew, James Symond, as CEO, with the brand still enjoying a high profile across the lending landscape.
“I would also like to recognise the great work Aussie does in the charitable space, which is a great blessing to people in need and highlights the contribution that finance and mortgage brokers make to the community. I know John will continue to contribute in many ways to society in this new chapter of this life,” Mr White said.
The history of Aussie
Initially established as a non-bank lender and mobile broker brand, the company’s founder “Aussie John” was synonymous with the brand, featuring in many advertising campaigns over the years, which showed the Australian public that they didn’t have to be at the mercy of the big four banks to secure a mortgage.
The $30 million sale included about 120 of the 168 Wizard branded retail outlets, which became the first Aussie stores across the country.
Many sole-operated franchises merged in after the sale, adding to the now 800 business writers under the Aussie banner.
The addition of retail-based business complemented what was primarily a company of mobile brokers.
James Symond, John Symond’s nephew, was appointed CEO in 2015.
Aussie sold nMB to Liberty Financial in 2017 and CBA completed its full acquisition of the brokerage brand that same year.
The major bank is yet to determine the fate of its subsidiary Aussie Home Loans after having announced plans to demerge from the mortgage brokerage in June 2018.
At the time, it was intending to spin off its third-party businesses into an independent wealth and mortgage broking group, separately listed on the ASX. However, the bank suspended its planned spin-off and sold the wealth businesses involved in the demerger.
CBA CEO Matt Comyn told The Adviser earlier this year that CBA is still “exploring options”, but added that the bank has been “pleased” with Aussie’s performance over the past few years.
“I think we don’t feel a near-term pressure to exit,” he told The Adviser.
“We’re exploring options over the medium and longer term and will remain active managers of Aussie and very supportive of the team and business in the near term,” he said.
Mr Comyn said CBA had delayed its decision on Aussie’s future in response to changes in the regulatory environment and the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.
[Related: Back to the beginning: Part 1]
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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