Firstly, let me say I am honoured and grateful to the Board for the opportunity to lead the MFAA team and I am excited about the challenges and opportunities this role presents. I am determined to uphold the professional standards of the industry, keep our members informed of changes that will affect them, and help them grow and protect their businesses.
It has been a busy first two weeks, focused on listening and learning but also on the regulatory front, where there has been a lot of activity. I have spent time with the MFAA team, the Board and a few of our members, understanding key issues affecting the industry, our performance during 2016 and how the organisation is placed for the future.
From my early discussions, it is evident that the past year has been a difficult one for the MFAA, with significant internal change impacting our ability to perform and to communicate promptly with our members. This – combined with a particularly active external regulatory environment – resulted in a challenging year, which has clearly left us with work to do.
I am however encouraged by the quality of our team, how enthusiastic and committed they are to the organisation and our members, and I am confident that we will be able to realign our performance as required.
Whilst my initial focus has primarily been on listening and understanding, we have also been busy engaging on important regulatory issues. We have worked with ASIC/Treasury as they refine the ASIC Industry Funding Model and were successful in negotiating an extension of the submission date the industry needs to make a meaningful contribution to the revised Model. We have also vigorously engaged in the debate on external dispute resolution (EDR) schemes and, of course, continue to actively advocate on the remuneration review which remains of primary importance.
Following my initial download, I will commence an extensive process of engagement with members across the country. I will be meeting as many members as possible to hear your views on how the MFAA is doing, how we can improve, and the successes we can build on. I travelled to Tasmania this week with our Chairman, Cynthia Grisbrook, to participate in our ongoing broker roundtables and to provide an update on the remuneration review, and will continue these engagements through January and into our PD events in February.
I will frankly and continuously evaluate our performance, identify and prioritise key areas for improvement, and begin the work of realigning and optimising the organisation to ensure we deliver on our strategy and the feedback received.
While this process of engagement is critical to understanding the path forward, I believe our focus can be simple, and that is to ensure that everything we do is in the best interests of the industry and the long-term interest of our members. Our industry is greater than the sum of its parts, and I will be focused on leading an association that is balanced, fair and equitable for all members.
As an organisation, we will relentlessly pursue the objective of assisting members to develop, nurture and promote the mortgage and finance industry in Australia, to raise the industry's profile and drive sustainable and ethical growth. By sustainable, I mean that we will grow based on the strength of our value proposition and customer relationships. We will do this within a framework of integrity, compliance and professional standards that provides confidence to our customers and stakeholders.
There are however, challenges on the horizon. In 2017, we will likely see continued tough economic conditions in various parts of the country, ongoing regulatory changes including the outcome of the remuneration review, further adjustments to interest rates and lending criteria and predicted volatility in housing markets, all of which will need to be navigated.
After 30 years in financial services in high-change environments, I believe I am well-suited to help the MFAA face these challenges. My experience in adjacent auto and asset finance industries, as well as in financial markets and treasury, gives me a deep understanding of our industry's macro environment. I join the MFAA with fresh eyes, and will work with members and our team to advance our cause with customers, regulators and other stakeholders.
I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible in the coming months. For now, have a safe and happy Festive Season with your friends and families, and all the very best for 2017.
Chief Executive Officer