Opinion: Will brokers have the ABA in their corner?
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Opinion: Will brokers have the ABA in their corner?

ANZ Shayne Elliott ANZ Shayne Elliott
James Mitchell Comments 4
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With pro-broker ANZ chief Shayne Elliott at the helm, could the Australian Bankers’ Association become an ally of the third-party channel?

This week’s announcement that ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott has been selected as the ABA’s next chair should be welcome news to mortgage brokers. CBA boss Ian Narev was actually up next to replace current chair and NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn, but with Mr Narev preparing to step down from CBA, the ABA seat went to the next in line, Mr Elliott.

As a chief executive, the ANZ boss has made some pretty significant changes to the major bank since he took over from Mike Smith at the beginning of last year.

Overseas business interests have been sold. Executives have been reshuffled. The whole business is being restructured. On Tuesday, ANZ announced the $975-million sale of its superannuation, financial advice network and investments division to IOOF.

It’s clear that Mr Elliott is reshaping the organisation into a more streamlined business, effectively a savings and loan outfit, with a core focus on good old-fashioned retail banking. Technology is also high on the agenda.

Unlike some of his contemporaries, Mr Elliott is aware of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to distribution.

Earlier this month, the ANZ boss appeared before a parliamentary committee in Canberra, where he gave his honest opinion about the bank’s branch network, the value of mortgage brokers and the problems associated with changing the way brokers are remunerated.

Asked why the major was closing branches, Mr Elliott said: “It is because our customers have already made the decision for us because they no longer come to the branch. The reality is: there is a role for branches, and we understand that — particularly in rural and regional areas. What we've found, though, is that customers aren't coming to those branches anymore.”

Later, he stressed the point: “Our customers don't want to come into branches. They really don't want to.”

I think he’s pretty clear that ANZ customers don’t want to go to ANZ branches.

Mr Elliott then told the parliamentary committee that mortgage brokers are “a really important channel” for the group. One that customers are choosing to go to (unlike its branches).

“Australians increasingly choose to go to a broker, particularly when they're looking for a home loan — in fact, it's more than half the market today,” the chief said.

In December, the ANZ chief will begin his term as chair of the ABA, a body that will sit at the same table as the MFAA, FBAA, COBA and other industry players to hash out the future of broker remuneration.

Given Mr Elliott’s realistic stance on the value brokers provide and his acceptance that customers prefer to use a broker than visit a branch, it will be interesting to watch how the ABA acts under his leadership.

[Related: Major banks grilled over broker pay and ownership]

Opinion: Will brokers have the ABA in their corner?
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