As the MFAA CEO prepares for the end of his tenure at the organisation’s helm, he looks back at where mortgage broking has come from and ahead to where it’s going
MFAA chief executive Phil Naylor shocked the industry when he announced recently he would step down from his role at the helm of the association at the end of the year. After more than 12 years in the position, Naylor has become an industry fixture. But he said his decision to depart comes as the industry has reached new peaks.
Naylor said he has seen mortgage broking come leaps and bounds from where it was when he started in the role.
“I just look back to when I started in the MFAA – or the MIAA as it was called in those days – and we had 2,000 members. Broker market share was around 20%. There was very little regulation, and patchy state regulation at most. There was lots of media criticism of brokers, or ‘cowboys’ as the media called them. What we’ve achieved since then is our membership has gone from 2,000 to more than 10,000, broker market share has gone from 20% to 50% and rising, and now we’ve got national legislation which we had significant influence on the content of. You very rarely see a bad broker story any more except for clear cut cases of fraud, but even those are very few compared to the number of brokers out there in the marketplace,” he said.
With this in mind, Naylor said he felt the industry was on firm footing, and that the time was right for him to move on.
“I just thought, we’ve achieved a lot as an organisation in that period, and sure things are coming up in the future but I just thought that at a time when things were humming along it was a good time to move on somewhere,” Naylor said.
With the association seeing its membership swell, and with brokers continuing to gain traction and market power, Naylor’s tenure has seen the mortgage broking industry mature significantly. As for his role in that maturity, Naylor said he is most proud of the inroads he made in lobbying for the cause of the association’s membership.
“I think the most gratifying part that I can honestly say I played some role in – because some of those things that have happened did so because the industry was changing – but the part I can say I played a role in was developing a strong relationship with Canberra and with some of the state governments when we had state regulation. Working closely with bureaucrats and politicians in Canberra to make sure we got fair legislation for the consumer, but also legislation that was reasonably friendly to brokers as well,” he said.
The NCCP is now firmly rooted in place, and Naylor said it was gratifying to see that the association had a say in ensuring brokers’ interests were protected.
“You’re never going to get everything you want, but the fact that we’ve built up those relationships means that our voice was heard and respected in those discussions, and I think that will continue to be the case with my successor,” he said.
As for the most challenging aspect of his job, Naylor said it was communicating to brokers what the MFAA could achieve.
“I think there are lots of expectations as to what associations and what the MFAA can do, and I think some of those are probably unrealistic. We have limited resources in the scheme of things, and so we have to focus on what is doable and achievable. But getting that message out to members is not easy,” he said.
Naylor said the MFAA would continue to communicate its objectives to its membership, and make sure its members understood the association’s primary objectives.
“We’ve been saying for the past few years that our key objectives are to maintain and increase the professional standards of the industry, and I certainly think we’ve done that. Then there’s our lobbying role, which I think most people are aware of. The third objective – which is the hardest one to achieve and which is ongoing – is to increase consumer awareness. I certainly believe we’ve increased the profile of the broker channel over the years, and that will continue to be a key part of what the MFAA is doing,” he said.
In announcing his departure at the recent MFAA National Convention of the Gold Coast, Naylor indicated he would continue to watch with interest as the industry evolved. This constant evolution, Naylor told Australian Broker, made it difficult toprognosticate on the industry’s future.
“It’s such a dynamic industry that anyone who says they know what will happen in the future is not being realistic,” Naylor said.
It’s this dynamism that Naylor said he would miss when he leaves the role on 24 December.
“I think the industry’s key characteristic is that it is constantly changing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an industry change as much in 10 years as this one has. That’s a positive, because it means it’s constantly renewing itself,” he said.
While Naylor said he could not presume to predict too far ahead, he said he was optimistic about the industry’s future.
“The next five years I think all the signs are there that broker market share will continue to increase. Where it goes is anyone’s guess, but we do know that in the UK it’s swelled back to over 60%, and I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t occur here,” he said.
Amid these opportunities, Naylor said the industry still faced challenges.
“I think that brokers will be more and more challenged by online activity, but I think the broker channel has established itself as the source for key advice to borrowers, and that it will always be supreme in that area,” he said.
Still, Naylor said brokers had to take on the challenge of operating in the digital realm, which he said many in the industry were already doing well. Another challenge Naylor said he sees is one about which the MFAA has continued to be vocal.
“I think the other thing that will continue to be an issue and is something we have been banging on about for a while is a better level of competition in the lending sector. It is crucial for consumers and also for the health of the lending sector that we have broader competition and not such a concentration of a few lenders. That’s starting to change, but it’s something that needs to continue to be addressed,” he said.
As for his own future, Naylor said he is not yet leaning in a specific direction.
“The reason I’ve given the board plenty of time is so they can not only find the right person to replace me, but also to give me some time to think about what I’d like to do next. My background pretty much all my working life has been in associations in one capacity or another, so I would probably gravitate toward that, but I have no strong view on what or where or how,” he said.
But looking at the industry he’s devoted the last 12-and-a-half years to, Naylor sees bright days.
“I can’t really see any dark clouds. As long as the broker sector keeps going down the path it is on, which is becoming a trusted adviser and building relationships with borrowers, I think the future is good.”
This feature has been lifted from Australian Broker issue 11.11. To read more, please subscribe.