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Industry loses founding icon

by 10 minute read
The Adviser

Veterans of the third-party channel have come together to pay their respects following the loss of one of the founding fathers of automation and legal processing of broker-introduced mortgages.

The Adviser received word of the death of Anthony Wignall on Monday. Known affectionately as Tony or 'Wiggers', Mr Wignall passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Former colleagues and friends remembered him as an early adapter of technology, helping to lay the foundations of the tech-driven industry of today.

“Tony was a pioneer in the mortgage industry space, particularly on the legal and process side. Along with a few like Jon Denovan and Ralph Galilee, he dragged the industry kicking and screaming into the 21st century,” said Troy Phillips, director of FirstPoint Mortgage Brokers.

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“Tony was a lawyer and academic who had a successful career as an investment banker before setting up Wignalls as a national firm that focused on the third-party space. [He was] the first external solicitor to produce NAB legal documents for mortgages. Wignalls sold to Perpetual later to become First Mortgage Services.

“As well as being articulate, intelligent and a heap of fun, he made a difference, he was a good friend; we lost a good one. He played a part in the history of this industry," Mr Phillips added.

Leon Braley, CBA’s senior relationship manager, third-party banking, echoed Mr Phillips’ sentiments.

“He was certainly a pioneer of the industry as far as automation and electronic processing…he certainly paved the way for the industry to become what it is today,” Mr Braley said.

Noting their working relationship at Homeside/Bank of New Zealand, he said Mr Wignall’s work was “way ahead of its time – unbelievable”.

“I think we’ve lost a lot of intellect, a guy who brought a lot to the table for us,” Mr Braley said.

“He was instrumental in writing Australia’s first securitisation program – the PUMA Fund. He had great vision and he was the first one to put it on the table… his intellect on building software programs and writing software programs was incredible. A lot of people in the industry will know him and remember him.”

Jon Denovan, a partner with law firm Gadens, remembered Mr Wignall as “a great innovator and an all-round nice guy”.

“Tony Wignall was one of the major reformers of mortgage doc prep in Australia. He invested a huge amount of energy and knowledge into developing IT systems when Google was still a dream. He created a huge business which was later sold,” Mr Denovan said.

A long-standing franchisee with Mortgage Choice, Jamie Christie, acknowledged the professional and personal efforts of Mr Wignall in the establishment and growth of his own business.

“I got to know Tony quite well in the late 90s/early 2000s. He helped me out with systems and procedures and a lot of database work as well. Even though it wasn’t in his line of work, it was certainly something he wanted to do because we were mates,” Mr Christie said.

“Tony had been out of industry a while since selling out to Perpetual [but] the industry will certainly miss what he had to offer.”

[Related: 'Giant of the mortgage industry' passes away]

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