AMA nominations now open!

by Mike Wood25 May 2021

It’s time to submit your nominations for the 2021 Australian Mortgage Awards. The event celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, so it’s only fitting that, this time around, brokers, lenders, BDMs and aggregators will be able to honour the industry’s finest at an elegant gala night at The Star Sydney

For 20 years, the Australian Mortgage Awards have been honouring the best in the business – the top brokers and brokerages, BDMs, banks, non-banks and aggregators across the nation.

In 2021, the AMAs will again reward the best of the best and, unlike last year, when the event was held online due to COVID-19, everyone can glam up and enjoy celebrating with their peers when the industry’s most prestigious awards night returns to The Star Sydney on 15 October.

The AMAs began in 2001, and the gala evening will be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the event, as well as the remarkable resilience and growth of the broking and lending sector following a difficult year of pandemic lockdowns and job losses hurting the economy.

Nominations are now open for the awards, which will recognise the industry’s top performers across 30 categories, including the premier titles of Broker of the Year and Brokerage of the Year. Go to australianmortgageawards.com.au to nominate.

Westpac will be the AMAs event partner for the 12th consecutive year, including sponsoring the major award – Westpac Australian Broker of the Year, which was won in 2020 by Mhairi MacLeod of Astute Ability Group.

“2021 marks the 12th year of Westpac’s partnership with the Australian Mortgage Awards, and we’re delighted to continue our support,” says Warren Shaw, head of third party distribution at Westpac.

“Australians value the choice and independence mortgage brokers provide, growing to a record 60% of all mortgage applications, and this is something we would like to celebrate together at this year’s AMAs.”

Key Media APAC managing director Justin Kennedy says: “We are extremely pleased to have Westpac back again as the event partner in 2021. Thanks to the ongoing support of Westpac, the Australian Mortgage Awards is still the pinnacle awards night for the mortgage and finance industry.”

Australian Broker caught up with some of the 2020 award winners to discuss the benefits of industry recognition and why people should nominate for the 2021 awards.

Mhairi MacLeod, founder and principal, Astute Ability Group – 2020 Broker of the Year; Broker of the Year – Specialist Lending

MacLeod says last year was very rewarding for her professionally and personally.

“Awards recognise hard work and builds self-esteem, pride, confidence and certainly builds employee morale, which we all needed last year, considering the lockdowns and lack of social interactions during COVID,” says the owner of the Central Coast-based brokerage.

 “Winning the Specialist Lending and Broker of the Year awards gave my clients the feeling they were working with the right group for their unique situations and gave them a lot of confidence, and during these times the right guidance and positive outcome added to their own business confidence. The award of Broker of the Year is definitely a game changer on how you are perceived.”

MacLeod says celebrating success is an overlooked yet powerful motivator, so coming together and connecting with others at the AMAs 2021 will also be very important, given what everyone has overcome.

Previous AMA winners who have worked hard to develop and use their skills have inspired MacLeod, and she encourages people in the industry to nominate.

“By entering the awards you are forced to look at your business from a different perspective and compare yourself to your competitors. It also acts as an endorsement for your business amongst your peers, customers and employees – this will give a seal of approval of your activities and a sign of quality for potential customers and relationships with lenders. Awards also give validation and credibility, adding strength to your profile.”

Darren Little, CEO of Smartmove Professional Mortgage Advisors – 2020 Australian Brokerage of the Year

Smartmove’s Darren Little says recognition with the Brokerage of the Year award in 2020 “was outstanding for our team and the effort they put in with our clients through what was a very different year”.

“It was our first opportunity to get our team together for six months for the virtual event, which was wonderful in itself, plus some of our business partners and aggregators were there, which made it all the more fun when we won the Brokerage of the Year,” he adds.

Little says the AMAs are deeply ingrained in Smartmove’s DNA: the brokerage has won five Young Gun of the Year awards over the last 11 years and Best Customer Service from an Individual Office for three out of the past five years – and to be named overall Brokerage of the Year again was wonderful after winning the award back in 2009 and 2010.

The team is looking forward to the AMAs returning as a live event.

“Our industry is built on relationships, and the opportunity to get back together is both exciting and crucial as we continue to move forward together. The AMA live event has historically been a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the year that has been for the industry, and I’m sure this year will be extra special after having a year on Zoom.”

Smartmove is encouraging companies and individuals to enter the 2021 awards. “The AMAs provide a great platform for your individual team members or businesses to tell their story about the year that has been. To be a finalist is fantastic, and to win the category is outstanding, plus it’s a great night to network and celebrate the year.”

Katie Dowton, broker, Mortgage Choice: 2020 Young Gun of the Year – Franchise

“Winning Young Gun of the Year was a huge personal achievement for me in 2020, and it was such a surreal moment when I saw my name come up on the screen,” says Katie Dowton. “I received so many messages and emails from people in the industry that I have a lot of respect for, and it felt really nice to know that it wasn’t just my small team that thought I was a winner. I also feel like the awards that our team have won both individually and together give new clients confidence in knowing that we are not only among the best brokerages on the Central Coast but also in the country.”

Dowton, who has been part of the Mortgage Choice Erina team since 2017, says the atmosphere of the 2019 awards night was amazing.

“Watching it from the computer last year just wasn’t the same. It’s always fun to get dressed up, and whilst I’m relatively new to the awards scene, I have been told that some of the best business partner relationships are made on the dance floor.”

Dowton wants other young brokers to nominate for the 2021 awards.

“It is a massive honour to be recognised by industry partners and leaders. Particularly as a young woman, it is encouraging to be reminded that you are on the right path and can absolutely make it no matter what barriers you may face.”

“There are a few names that I have seen as finalists and winners who have inspired me because of their ability to consistently raise the benchmark for success and that motivates me to work harder and push myself to grow both individually and as a business.”

Gus Mendez, CEO, Experity Capital – 2020 New Brokerage of the Year

It has been a busy three years for Sydney-based brokerage Experity Capital, topped off by winning an AMA in 2020.

“Winning this award is testament to our successful merger of three businesses, which we carried out in 2018 to increase our customer service capabilities and provide better solutions to our clients,” says Mendez.

“Most of all, our solution-centric collaborative approach has meant outstanding customer outcomes. Although some of our directors are industry stalwarts, being recognised as a group at a national level this early in our journey has boosted credibility further across our network to become the brokerage of choice for clients and valued referral partners.”

The team at Experity Capital is excited by the prospect of the AMA awards night being back at The Star on 15 October.

“Being able to come together and reflect on an extremely challenging year to celebrate success is important to us. With collaboration being one of our core values, we are excited to welcome the opportunity to reconnect with industry peers, colleagues and friends in person and strengthen our relationships.“

“It’s not just about winning or the recognition, it’s an opportunity to reflect on your achievements as a business, come together as an industry and celebrate success.”

Mendez says the industry as a whole should be proud of how it has helped clients across Australia navigate one of the most challenging years.

“Seeing our industry peers get recognised for their innovation, leadership and overall excellence is a reflection of the collaboration amongst lenders, aggregators and industry bodies ... we are always inspired by those who have been recognised for raising the bar and giving back to the broking community.”