Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt underscored the importance of business resilience during a crisis at an Aussie webinar, and cited broking and property as examples of resilient sectors.
Major brokerage Aussie CEO James Symond hosted a webinar yesterday (25 February) with former American eight-time grand slam champion tennis player Andre Agassi, and former world number one Australian tennis player Lleyton Hewitt.
The purpose of the webinar was to provide insights from a sportsperson (Mr Agassi) who Aussie said “remained resilient, demonstrated tenacity, and stayed ahead of the game throughout his 20-year career”.
Since retiring from professional tennis in 2006, Mr Agassi has established various business ventures and engaged in philanthropic work.
Mr Hewitt, who interviewed Mr Agassi, underscored the strength of the Australian property market and mortgage brokers despite the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The mortgage broking industry is stronger than it’s ever been before,” he told the webinar.
He then asked Mr Agassi: “How attractive is that then in your career to have a resilient industry to be working with and working for?”
Mr Agassi responded by commending the mortgage broking and property sectors in Australia, and stated that Las Vegas, where he resides, is “thriving from a real estate perspective as well”.
He also said that working remotely and conducting appointments virtually has been beneficial for businesses during the COVID-19 crisis amid social distancing restrictions and lockdowns.
“I think there are ways to get to people in a faster way, get to people in a more personal way in the sense that you can be in touch with them on an often basis,” Mr Agassi said.
“I think you have the opportunity to build, believe it or not, more quality relationships because you’re not spending all your time driving to these destinations.
“If you’re willing to put in the time and the thought, I think you can really stimulate an out-of-the-box activity. Make hay when the sun shines because we’ve got to get through some difficult times.”
Mr Hewitt also asked Mr Agassi if he believed in the importance of a business establishing goals during a crisis and striving to achieve these goals.
Mr Agassi reaffirmed that goal setting is critical for businesses, and emphasised that “it starts with the people”.
“You go to a restaurant; you’ve got great food and bad service. I’ve got news for you. You’ll never go back. You go to a restaurant, you’ve got great food, you’ve got great service, you’ll give it another try right?” he asked.
“It always boils down to the individual, and every company boils down to their family and their person and that’s what your role is.”
Mr Agassi has urged businesses to “put in that extra time, extra mileage, what I call shower time where you’re always thinking about it, even if you’re taking a shower”.
“How can I take a step up and a step forward on my competition? How can I think outside the box? How can I use my time more efficiently?” he said.
“I think we can get a team of people that are constantly pushing themselves because they know they’re capable of so much more given the platform. That to me is when you start to see an entire company really thrive is when they come together during this time.”
However, Mr Agassi noted that employees might have to unite “in silos” during the COVID-19 pandemic as they may be unable to engage in face-to-face interactions amid restrictions.
“It’s really asking a lot of the employees because you can lose that inspiration not being around each other. But you can also look at it as an opportunity to really shine,” he said.
Aussie’s year of tech
In his introductory remarks, Mr Symond told the webinar that in light of the proposed merger with online brokerage Lendi, the brokerage would focus on technological developments over the coming months.
In December last year, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) – the parent company of Aussie – announced that it had entered into an agreement to merge with Lendi.
The proposed merger would combine Aussie’s brand and its significant broker and franchisee network with the digital technology of Lendi.
Both the brands said that Aussie’s broker and franchisee network would “remain central to providing consumers with the support, choice and expert guidance in the sometimes confusing and complex process of securing a home loan”, while Lendi will continue to develop its technology and processes to “deliver better customer experiences and outcomes via its platform, home loan consultant and specialist teams”.
Commenting on Aussie’s focus this year during the webinar, Mr Symond said: “We’re taking technology very seriously.
“You’ll see over the next six and 16 months, some spectacular technology initiatives through that partnership, coming out so brokers are better equipped and our customers are better informed.”
Mr Symond told The Adviser after the proposed merger announcement that the deal is not expected to complete until mid-2021 and it therefore “continues to be business as usual at Aussie”.
[Related: Aussie CEO on the Lendi merger]
Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.
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