The Finance Brokers Association of Australia will this month mark its 25th year of being, after first forming in Queensland in 1993.
The FBAA, which first started as the Finance Brokers Association of Queensland (FBAQ) before changing its name to its current name and merging with the Finance Brokers & Mortgage Originators Association WA Inc, this month marks its 25th year of being.
Speaking to The Adviser, founding member, vice chairman and IDR chairman Chris Szigeti recalls the first meeting of the association and what the body was set up to achieve.
Mr Szigeti said: “I still remember it plain as day and I can’t believe it has been 25 years.
“In June 1993, a group of eight brokers — including me — came together at the Baptist Church Hall in Redhill on a freezing cold day to discuss forming a group.
“The industry in Queensland didn’t have any licencing. We considered ourselves to be professionals and doing the right thing, but there were these cowboys who were damaging the industry reputation and we just wanted to get rid of them. So, that is how it all started.
“The principle was to be recognised by the government and to enhance the credibility of finance brokers in the eyes of both lenders and the public at large.”
After the first meeting, members put in $50 each to establish a “fighting fund”, but it was only after finance broker and well-known Queensland businessman Geoffrey Alan Thomas AO placed some seed capital with the group did it take off.
While the association was initially started by and for finance brokers, it quickly incorporated mortgage brokers, too. As part of its stance on professionalising the industry, the association formed its own code of conduct and ethics in February 1994 to ensure that brokers were held to the same standards and purpose.
Over the years, the association has grown and now includes approximately more than 8,000 members, nine FBAA board members, 16 employees, five state presidents and 27 councillors.
According to Mr Szigeti, the popularity of the association was because it represented brokers at the coalface and brought the industry together.
He said: “From the very beginning, we thought it was important to have a brand for who brokers were.
“The majority of our members are small business operators working out of a desk from an accountant’s office or off their kitchen table and they don’t have a voice, but collectively, through the association, we have a big voice.”
He said that a driving force for him starting the association was because broking can be “quite a lonely occupation” and it was a good opportunity to bring brokers together, network and form a united front.
Speaking of the 25-year anniversary, FBAA executive director Peter White said: “The essence of that first meeting carries through today. From day one, it started out as being the voice of the little bloke, the one-man operator. It was never representative of lenders or the big aggregators — but it was representing the broker at the coalface and still today it is. It is still fundamentally about that and 95 per cent of our membership are working brokers.
“But it is not just about the membership composition; it is about our ethos, philosophy and how we represent the industry as whole. We are there for the person who is the operator, the person who is doing the work.
“Even though the industry has gone on an enormously long journey and evolved drastically from those early days, there is still the same premise that sits underneath the body: to ensure that we stay and remain to be a professional industry.”
The head of the FBAA said that the association had worked hard to provide a voice for brokers at a political level, too, stating that the body has had “significant impacts on shaping the outcomes of regulation”.
Mr White continued: “We are tackling the hard questions and we don’t shy away from them. If there is a need for us to lift our game, we are prepared and ready to do that and then do something more.
“We are reinforcing the professionalism in the industry and the enormous value that our industry brings to the borrowing marketplace.”
The association was officially incorporated on 12 November 1993, and the association will be celebrating its 25th anniversary at the national conference on 16 November 2018.
“The national conference is where we will celebrate the anniversary with our members,” Mr White said.
“It is going to be something else — bigger and better than last year.”