Phil Waugh keen to ensure brokers and customers treated equally at NAB

by Antony Field14 Jul 2021

Phil Waugh played 79 Tests for the Wallabies and 136 matches for the NSW Waratahs but he faces a bigger test in his new role at NAB than he ever faced in his illustrious rugby union career – satisfying the demands of thousands of brokers and their customers.

Waugh was the head of private wealth north at Westpac and also led the bank’s COVID response before joining NAB last month as NAB executive broker distribution in home loans, replacing Steve Kane.

Waugh spoke to Australian Broker about his desire to resolve channel conflict and ensure NAB is providing choice to customers.

“My main focus is to change the narrative a little bit to ensure that the choice of how they interact with the organization is purely in the customers’ hands,” Waugh said.

“There’s always been historically across financial services an element of channel conflict about how they interact with customers.

“My view on this, which is shared strongly by my colleagues, is very much around how do we put the choice back into the customer’s hands, so the customer can choose whichever channel they would like and is most convenient for them to interact with the bank.”

“From an organizational point of view, we service that customer and each channel equally so that they are getting a consistent experience across home loan originations no matter what channel they come through.”

When it comes to brokers’ frustrations about long turnaround times, Waugh said NAB is on “a simplification and digital agenda” with the aim of providing one simple way to do a home loan across the organisation.
“This will obviously assist in ensuring the customer experience is the same no matter which channel they go through.”

“The beauty of the leadership at NAB currently is that there’s a genuine operational investment in the broker distribution business and the broker channel. That’s supported with three years of committed financial investment which will allow the broker channel, through the origination process and end-to-end value chain, to be the best in market.”

While COVID lockdowns in greater Sydney made it impossible to meet brokers, Waugh said broker businesses are built on relationships, trust and integrity.

“Being out and amongst the broker community is hugely important for me, then it’s around largely delivering for our brokers what we say we’re going to deliver.

This meant NAB providing clarity and consistency on home loan originations, policy, service levels and decisioning.

“This leads to trust and once we do that we can start to grab greater market share.”

Waugh said banks suffered extreme reputational damage following the banking royal commission but had been very supportive of customers during COVID, working closely with federal and state governments, and this would continue.

“I think that customers should have a lot more trust and faith in the way that organisations are supporting both businesses and customers, with the business packages, repayment relief and also unsecured lending on offer.”

“Without that support we would be in a far worse situation than we are at present.”

Talking about his rugby union career, Waugh said there was a close correlation between high-performance and high-performance business.

“It’s built into you – you want to win. You’ve got to earn the credibility in your own right in this new field.

“The concept of team and personal performance is critical. Your own performance and commitment needs to be at the highest standard to strongly influence people and there is also the importance of world-class people around you.”

Waugh said he had big shoes to fill replacing Steve Kane and he plans to continue the momentum NAB had built over the last 12 to 18 months.

“We want to continue to be the bank behind the broker.”