The CEO of Aussie, James Symond, is to step down from his role, marking the end of the Symond family’s leadership of the company they founded.
The chief executive officer of the major brokerage, James Symond, is to leave his position as the company moves forward with its merger with Lendi.
In December 2020, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) – the parent company of Aussie – announced that it had entered into an agreement to merge Aussie Home Loans with Lendi.
Lendi shareholders will hold the majority shareholding of 55 per cent in the merged business, while Aussie’s current owner, CBA, will hold a 45 per cent shareholding and continue to provide funding for the Aussie Select branded home loan product.
The transaction is set to combine Aussie’s brand and significant broker and franchisee network with the digital technology of online brokerage Lendi. Both brands are expected to remain in market.
However, under the new structure, it is expected that Lendi co-founder David Hyman will become the sole CEO of the merged company.
As such, James Symond – who first started working at Aussie when he was 19 years old and was appointed CEO in 2015 – is to step down from the helm of the company that his family first founded to disrupt the dominance of the banks in the home loan market.
It marks the first time in the company’s 29-year history that a member of the Symond family has not held a position at the company. The founder and former CEO and chairman, John Symond (James Symond’s uncle), stepped down from the company in November 2020.
The outgoing CEO, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (a form of cancer affecting the bone marrow) in 2017 and for which he underwent a bone marrow transfusion, commented: “I am extremely proud of what Aussie has achieved over the past three decades. From humble beginnings, Aussie has come a long way, from revolutionising and bringing healthy competition to the Australian home lending industry to where we are today with the largest retail footprint of any mortgage broker brand in Australia.
“Aussie now has a national distribution network with over 220 stores, over 1,000 brokers and 300 team members, who are part of the family-style culture John and I successfully built over three decades”, he added.
Mr Symond continued: “I’ve always been proud of the broking industry and Aussie’s role in advocating for customers. Now, with over 60 per cent of home loans in Australia provided by brokers, the industry is at an exciting new stage of growth and technology will play a major part in this.
“I thank all of the people in our team and the industry for their support and enthusiasm in building the Aussie brand and helping consumers with what is one of the most important financial decisions in their lives.
“Aussie and the industry has been my commercial life since I was 19, and I’m incredibly proud of the legacy that John and I created. We established a culture, systems and processes that really help mortgage brokers and their families succeed.”
He concluded: “Today, Aussie is one of the most recognised and loved brands in Australia, backed by our teams and brokers. The business is strong, and kept on the same growth path, will continue to strongly prosper in the future.”
David Hyman, co-founder and CEO of Lendi, told The Adviser: "The Symond family has built a great business over the last three decades and we wish James the best of luck in his new endeavours.
"We look forward to building on Aussie’s strong foundations as we bring the businesses together with best in class systems, technology and processes to ensure continued growth for decades to come."
The history of Aussie
Launched in 1992, Aussie was a pioneer of giving consumers an alternative to the major banks. At just 19 years of age, Mr Symond started his career with Aussie, and has held a wide range of roles and leadership positions, growing the business and ultimately being appointed CEO in 2015.
Initially established as a non-bank lender and mobile broker brand, the company’s founder “Aussie John” was initially 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 99 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 number of business writers under the Aussie banner.
The addition of retail-based business complemented what was primarily a company of mobile brokers.
Aussie sold nMB to Liberty Financial in 2017 and CBA completed its full acquisition of the brokerage brand that same year.
In 2018, CBA announced plans to demerge the mortgage brokerage into a new wealth group; however, the bank suspended its planned spin-off and sold the wealth businesses involved in the demerger separately.
In December 2020, CBA revealed that it had entered into an agreement to merge Aussie Home Loans with Lendi.
The broking brand has been experiencing strong growth in the past year, marking record settlement and lodgement months in February of this year.
Aussie’s retail channel also delivered the highest lodgement month on record in February 2021 and year to date. The channel accounts for over 70 per cent of Aussie’s total settlement value and was at 8 percent above the settlement target for FY21 in March 2021, according to the brokerage.
It is set to increase the number of its stores across Australia by 24 stores to a total of 244 over the 2021 calendar year, and has ambitions to grow its retail channel to reach 300 stores and 1,200 brokers by 2023, while enhancing its digital offering.
Last week, the major brokerage announced that it was launching its first online direct-to-consumer digital lending product in partnership with Tic:Toc. Aussie revealed that it had launched the new direct offering, Aussie Online, in partnership with mortgage fintech Tic:Toc.
The first product under the offering, Aussie Edge, is funded by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (which has a 28 per cent stake in the fintech) and targets “digitally savvy” purchasers, refinancers, owner-occupiers and investors; with fixed rate, variable rate and an optional offset account.
As such, consumers can now access Aussie both via broker and direct.
Find out more from James Symond the history of Aussie and what he hopes the future will hold for the brand in the recent Mortgage and Finance Leader podcast, run by our sister brand Mortgage Business:
[Related: Aussie CEO on the Lendi merger]
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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