New MFAA CEO seeks greater broker market share

The new CEO of the MFAA says she is well aware of the challenges that brokers face, including channel conflict, given she has more than two decades of financial services industry experience.

But Anja Pannek (pictured above), interviewed by Australian Broker just a week into her new role, also wants to hear from MFAA members about what matters most to them.

Pannek, whose most recent roles include Loan Market Group group executive – lending solutions and strategy, PLAN Australia CEO and NAB chief financial officer for personal banking, is also keen to grow broker market share above 68%.

“The first thing people should expect is I will be hitting the ground running,” Pannek said.

Read more: MFAA chooses new CEO

“I come to this role with significant experience, in particular around the third-party market and the mortgage broker market since 2005 in a variety of different capacities.”

Pannek said she brought a level of understanding to the role, knowing the challenges and opportunities mortgage brokers face on a day-to-day basis.

“I know how brokers work with their aggregator and different lenders to help their customers navigate a challenging and daunting experience of obtaining finance for a home loan or a business customer lending for their business,” Pannek said.

“I have lived through every industry review since the asset broker remuneration review, including the Hayne royal commission. I was part of the industry self-reform and I was able to see how big the impact of this was and how mortgage brokers could bring new reform to life. A combination of these reviews, along with a focus on what is important to our members is my focus as I settle into my new role.”

The new MFAA CEO said her first goal was to listen to what was most important to members.

“At the end of the day, it is our members association and I want to hear from them first-hand w. they see challenges and opportunities. In the coming months I will be out on the road connecting with people which I am very excited for,” Pannek said.

“At the MFAA, the foundation of what we are is continuing the great advocacy and work brokers do for their customers. I am in the process of arranging meetings with key industry stakeholders including government, the Opposition, ACCC, Treasury, ASIC and consumer groups. I believe having open constructive dialogue with key stakeholders representing industry is crucial.”

Pannek said it was fantastic that two in three consumers (68%) engaged a mortgage broker to make one of the most important financial decisions of their lives.

“I think we will surpass the 70% mark very soon which speaks spades that consumers have so much trust with the broker channel and the value brokers can create,” she said.

“A large amount of business brokers create is through the relationships they have with existing clients and the referral of business to friends and family is so important.”

Pannek said she would support brokers in her new role by focusing on the big issues as they arise and position the mortgage industry for success going forward.

“I want to make sure the industry continues to grow,” she said.

“I am aware of the nearer-term challenges the industry is facing including channel parity and channel conflict and I will face them when and w. we need to.”

Read more: Mortgage brokers record strongest ever June quarter

Pannek said it was an interesting time for the mortgage industry.

“We are hearing about interest rates rising, inflation soaring and softening property prices. This is a different environment that many brokers would not have faced in a number of years,” she said.

“I read a statistic recently that 2009 was the last time we have seen this type of interest rate environment w. interest rates were starting to go up and it has been decades since we have seen them escalate so quickly. Mortgage brokers are helping their customers navigate the complexity of this along with heightened activity levels.

“Reflecting on the pandemic, I think brokers proved during challenging circumstances the value they create for their customers and navigating complexity in an uncertain time.”

Pannek said the federal government had clearly indicated it was comfortable with its decision not to pursue a broker remuneration review.

“I think this is a fantastic outcome as reform across industry is a testament to how the industry has embedded it and continued to do so,” she said.

“Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial services Stephen Jones has publicly indicated that Labor is comfortable w. our industry is and as an industry, we should take comfort in that.

“I know our role as the MFAA is to continue to monitor the regulatory environment and stay ahead of the curve and engage in conversations when they arise. Our industry is in fantastic shape because of the heavy lifting over the last few years.”

Pannek said she believed the government had the right balance in terms of mortgage industry regulation.

“We have gone through five or six years of industry reform including BID. I think BID is the right thing for our industry as it provides brokers with a value differentiator,” she said.

“A broker can say to a customer that I act in your best interest, which is not something you receive anyw. else.”

Pannek said the value proposition of a mortgage broker today is all about helping their customers navigate some of the most complex and important financial decisions they will have to make in their lives.

“Whether that is buying a first home, by building wealth through property or a business owner obtaining finance to start or grow their business, a broker is immensely valuable and is extremely important at the core of what they do,” she said.

“Brokers provide customers with access to lenders they would not normally be able to access. Mortgage brokers play such an important role in the lives of Australians.”

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