Putting customers first

by 12 Apr 2019

In his new role as GM of banking for MyState Bank, Tony MacRae is poised to spearhead better customer outcomes and solid growth

It’s been a busy 12 months for Tony MacRae. This time last year he held the position of group general manager of third party distribution at Westpac, in which he managed the performance of the bank’s 17,500-strong network of accredited brokers.

In June he took on the role of national general manager for retail homeownership distribution, with Warren Shaw succeeding him as head of third party.

Then, after 10 years at the big four institution, MacRae was named GM of banking at MyState Bank, a move that would see him take responsibility for the non-major’s retail division, call centres, business and agribusiness, as well as the mortgage broker channel.

“I was at Westpac for 10 years. I had a wonderful time and great opportunities, and I still have a whole heap of friends there. In that sense it wasn’t an easy decision,” he says.

“But the reality was, with the opportunity at MyState, in a smaller organisation it’s a chance to make a real difference, work in an organisation that can be nimble and deliver on those customer outcomes.

“We have some of the best-kept secrets in the industry, and now we have to get those out there” Tony MacRae, general manager of banking, MyState Bank

That was a great opportunity and too good to pass up,” he says.

Customer outcomes have been close to MacRae’s heart for some time – incidentally, he helped create the first official definition with Gerald Foley as part of the Combined Industry Forum.

With an NPS score that consistently sits in the 30s, MyState has also made a serious commitment to the cause, and it has paid off handsomely.

The bank has invested heavily in putting a sharper focus on digital banking solutions – from the recent launch of two digitally enhanced accounts, the Glide current account and the Bonus Saver, to the addition of Garmin Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay.

It is one of the first banks to confirm it will be ready to comply with new comprehensive credit reporting requirements from 1 July, and CEO Melos Sulicich predicts a 200% increase in customer use of digital wallets by 2020.

In the last financial year, MyState posted a net profit after tax of $31.5m, up 4.6% on the year before. “Growth is important for us. We need to grow our customer base, whether that be customers who come in through our retail branches or broker network, or who increasingly come through our digital channels,’’ says MacRae.

Once we get them in it’s about building good, strong relationships with them.” However, MacRae is equally focused on the role the broker channel – which generates 75% of all new loans – can play in enhancing MyState’s service proposition.

“We see that brokers are critically important in helping customers and guiding them through the most important financial decisions most people will make. They deliver a great service and, critically, choice,” he says.

“It’s about giving customers choice on how they want to deal in the mortgage space, whether that’s dealing directly with us through branches, dealing with brokers, or using digital channels moving forward.”

While many expect the broker channel to grow off the back of royal commission exposure, MacRae sees the future bringing a different set of opportunities, such as the chance for brokers to own the ongoing debate around remuneration.

“The reality, whether perceived or real, is that there are conflicts within our model, and so we need to work together to determine how to mitigate or eliminate those conflicts. I think we have a great window of opportunity to own our own destiny,” he says. For MacRae, the revenue-share model in place currently makes “absolute sense”. However, it requires restructuring in order to address some of the issues raised over the last 12 months, including conflicts of interest.

“With some of the announcements that have been made we could still find ourselves debating this in a number of years’ time, and you don’t want to be caught in that circumstance,” he adds.

For MyState the future is certainly promising. Digital will remain a top priority in response to customer demands.

The pressure to maintain its NPS score will also add to the mix, but the real focus is footprint, and there brokers have an undeniable role to play.

“MyState is a place with a real passion for customers and service. We have some of the best-kept secrets in the industry, and now we have to get those out there.”