Christa Malkin: Hands-on Leadership

by Adam Smith18 Feb 2014
Christa MalkinBank of Melbourne’s Christa Malkin has said the lender will be ‘hands on’ in taking its message to the broker market in 2014 Christa Malkin may have been in her role a short time, but she’s ready to hit the ground running. Recently announced as broker head for Bank of Melbourne, Malkin already has a wealth of experience in the broker channel, and has said she’s looking forward to taking a hands-on approach to the Victorian broker market.

The rapid expansion of Bank of Melbourne throughout Victoria means the bank presents great opportunities for brokers, Malkin said.

“Certainly the few discussions I’ve had with brokers that I have good relationships with show that customers want to look at Bank of Melbourne as an option,” she said.

“That for me is really exciting because if customers want to get into a product that Bank of Melbourne offers then it’s just a case of making sure that brokers are informed about our product range as well as the processes and credit policies.”

Malkin’s experience with the broker channel spans seven years at Bankwest, and she said this background stands her in good stead for her new role.

Malkin said she is looking forward to hitting the ground running and meeting with as many brokers as possible; to “really working closely with the Flame brokers and the Gold brokers that Bank of Melbourne already has, and looking at opportunities in terms of new brokers we can bring into that great service offering”.

And she’s keen to work closely with the broker market to understand brokers’ businesses and get a feel for areas in which Bank of Melbourne can better meet its clients’ needs.

“My message to the broker market is that Bank of Melbourne is a great brand and is going to continue to be out there and be at the forefront of what your customers are asking for. I’d like to go into this role and go into 2014 with brokers giving us the feedback we need to strengthen our relationships with them.”

Part of building those strong relationships, she said, will be actively getting out into the broker market. Malkin said Victorian brokers could expect her, as well as the Bank of Melbourne brand, to be a very visible part of the marketplace.

“I’m a hands-on leader. First and foremost I want to work closely with the BDM team, and I think it’s important to understand brokers’ business and how our products and policies will complement their business.”

Malkin is open about the challenges she faces in the role, and has vowed to meet those challenges head-on.

“What I’ve seen so far is that Bank of Melbourne has had a few rough patches in terms of how brokers see the service delivery, and I think most of that can be overcome with education.”

Along with education, Malkin said an important part of meeting the challenges ahead will be maintaining a strong presence in the broker community and building relationships based on mutual respect.

“The really important message from a state manager perspective and from my BDM team is that we’re on the front lines and ready to create relationships based on mutual respect with brokers.”

Part of that commitment is also acting on feedback from brokers, Malkin said.

“It’s important to listen to the market, and the reason I want to get out there is to listen to brokers’ feedback and act on the common feedback that’s being reported.”

Malkin pointed to some early areas where the bank has acted on feedback from brokers, and said its initiatives had set a good precedent for the year ahead.

One of those areas was Bank of Melbourne’s decision to adopt the ApplyOnline platform for uploading supporting documents. Describing the decision as a “massive tech win”, Malkin said the initiative would make the application process smoother for brokers, borrowers and the bank.

“The ApplyOnline document upload Bank of Melbourne has done is a massive tech win that delivers enormous benefit to the broker. A new initiative like that to go into 2014 in an area that has been a challenge in the past is a good message to get out there.”

Banks will need big wins like this in the year ahead, Malkin said. The lending market is growing increasingly competitive, and lenders will have to step up their game to catch the attention of borrowers and brokers.

“It’s great that there’s so much competition in the marketplace. It’s a fantastic opportunity for brokers to be able to give the customer a competitive list of offerings. For lenders, keeping up with competition and being able to set themselves apart will be the really big challenge across the board.”

But Malkin is confident her team and Bank of Melbourne are up to the task, and her message to brokers is that the bank is passionate about winning their business.

“Our clear message to the Melbourne broker market is we want to work with you so you can offer Bank of Melbourne to your clients and be confident that they’re going to get a really good result.”