A word from PLAN Australia's Anja Pannek

by Anja Pannek27 Apr 2020

In the words of RBA governor Philip Lowe, we are living in extraordinarytimes. The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on communities across the globe. While the full economic and social impact of this rapidly evolving situation is difficult to measure, what we can and should be doing is helping each other and our customers.

The Australian broking industry has shown how resilient it can be in the face of economic crises, change and uncertainties. We need to remain united – together we can and will overcome challenges and continue to be of service to our customers.

The way we live, communicate, socialise and work has been altered as we’ve entered the uncharted waters of the pandemic. For how long and to what extent this disruption will impact our daily lives remains uncertain. At PLAN Australia we are committed to supporting our members and their businesses throughout this time of uncertainty. We are proud to be a strong and sustainable aggregator with the strong capital backing of NAB.

Like many organisations, we’ve been working swiftly to respond to COVID-19 and the challenges it presents for our members, business, staff and lenders. We have taken a range of preventative measures to ensure the health and wellbeing of both our members and staff remains our top priority, while continuing to provide the same level of service and support to them.

Ensure business continuity planning

There are a few important issues brokers should consider at this time. Critically, you should be reviewing your business continuity plans, including:

  • If you utilise offshore or outsourced loanprocessing operations, do they have a business continuity plan in place? Are they following local guidance on health and public wellbeing?
  • If your offshore provider is moving to  remote working arrangements, ensure you understand and are comfortable with their data security arrangements.
  • Where you move away from face-to-face interactions and hold video meetings, encourage participants to turn the camera on for a more engaging experience.
  • Ensure your professional indemnityinsurance payments are up to date.•Keep connected with your aggregator forfurther information and support.
  • Be extra vigilant around your ownbusiness’s cybersecurity.

Work with customers facing hardship

Both the Reserve Bank governor and the Prime Minister have accepted that many Australians are likely to lose their jobs in the event we enter a recession. Some of  the unemployed could be your clients.

A mortgage broker’s role is vital in assisting customers during the bad times as well as the good

It is critical that you do whatever it takes to keep your business fully operational so you can be of service to clients who are facing financial hardship. A mortgage broker’s role is vital in assisting customers during the bad times as well as the good. There will be many people throughout the community who will need your assistance over the coming months.

Many lenders are announcing mortgage and commercial debt repayment breaks and other assistance programs for those affected. There is much brokers can do to support customers who require this help.

As business owners, brokers who find themselves in financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 should also speak to their bank about what assistance they can provide.

Mortgage brokers have important relationships with more than half of the  homeowners across the country. You helped your customers through one of the most joyful milestones in life – purchasing a new home. Some of those customers may be feeling anxious about their current situation or overwhelmed by the events unfolding, while others may be experiencing significant changes to their working lives, travel arrangements and social engagements. I encourage all of you to stay close to your clients during these times. They need to know that they have a trusted professional by their side.

Look after yourself and your staff

It is also important that we all take the best possible measures to ensure our own personal health and safety and the welfare of those closest to us. Follow both federal  and state government and Australian Health directions and advice – please.

Social connection is so important, as is health and wellbeing. Stay connected within your broker community and through brokers in your aggregator group. This doesn’t need to be business- or work-related – just a call to check in on each other goes a long way. Importantly, taking care of your own health, with a good diet, sleep and exercise, is more important than ever.

We recognise this is a potentially stressful time for many. PLAN Australia, through NAB, offers an assistance program called MyCoach to all its staff as well as PLAN Australia members. MyCoach provides confidential phone counselling and digital support 24/7; we encourage all PLAN Australia members to use this service and reach out for help, should you need it.

We are all in this together, and it is together that we will overcome adversity.

Anja Pannek, CEO of PLAN AustraliaAnja Pannek
CEO of PLAN
Australia