Key industry association axes CEO in market nadir

by Mackenzie McCarty19 Jun 2012

Poor equity release market conditions have forced the SEQUAL board to end the tenure of long-time CEO Kevin Conlon.

As part of a restructure of the equity release representative association's management resources, the board made the decision that it will no longer maintain a full time CEO after the end of June.

Former chairman of the board, John Thomas, has stepped into an executive chairman role that will see him take on more day-to-day management, supported by administrator Pauline Negline.

Thomas has been the chairman and managing director of Australian Seniors Finance, a non-bank lender established in 2003 that still participates in the equity release market.

Thomas praised the contribution of Kevin Conlon, including his work with regulators and other stakeholders in shaping legislation of the sector being put to parliament this week.

"We were comfortable with that [legislation], and having achieved such a good result, we decided to look at the structure and purpose of SEQUAL, and what it will deliver in the future," Thomas said.

"There is no mystery around the fact that the number of active participants in the market has reduced; a lot of non-bank providers of past days had difficulty maintaining funding because of the GFC. So membership numbers are down," he said.

Thomas said the association would continue to represent the equity release industry to regulators and other stakeholders, but no longer required the services of a full time CEO.

Speaking with Australian Broker, Kevin Conlon said the current equity release market situation is a "great disappointment",  but he would continue to advocate on equity release issues.

"I've considered serving as CEO a great opportunity to influence outcomes on very significant issues. And our job is not finished," he said.

"I still want to be involved on the market side or regulatory side of the equity release sector, as I'm committed to ensuring senior Australians are able to access equity in their homes."

Conlon said this was 'increasingly important' for Australia, and that he is hoping an opportunity will arise that will allow him to continue to work in the sector.

Conlon listed as his achievements guiding the creation of a favourable legislation, as well as fostering healthy engagements with other associations, consumer groups and the media. Thomas said Conlon had been integral in cultivating a positive perception of the products among the public.

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