The WIMBN industry panel was the first official session on the 2014 MFAA Convention agenda, and featured award-winning credit advisers Melissa Gielnik (Smart Lending) and Peita Davies (Choice Home Loans – Blue Mountains), an award-winning BDM (Michelle Bannister from La Trobe Financial) and Lyn Cobley, Executive General Manager of Retail Products and Third Party Banking Third Party for Commonwealth Bank – facilitated by Rod Edge, Head of Professional Standards at the MFAA.
Talking to a packed room, the panel discussed what separates top performing credit advisers from the rest – with all panellists concurring with the importance of truly knowing your customer and delivering quality service.
Melissa said that she takes the time to educate her referrers as well as her customers. Lyn also mentioned that brokers who focus on quality applications and packages are usually the ones with incredible throughput.
The panel agreed that it’s critical for credit advisers to be educated in every lenders’ policies and to work closely with their local BDMs and state managers. Given that success means different things to different people, Michelle advised attendees to define their own success, and work out a plan to achieve that. ‘And tailor something individual in your approach so that you stand out from your competitors’, she added.
There were questions from the audience about how often to contact clients, and what are the best ways to keep in touch. The panellists agreed that one touchpoint per client each month is optimal, with a combination of SMS/email/phone calls.
Melissa mentioned some research that shows customers lose the ‘warm fuzzy’ feeling about credit advisers 60 days after settlement, so she makes a point of reaching out to her clients at this point. She also said that she communicates with clients proactively throughout the settlement process so that they never have to chase her.
Staying upbeat throughout periods of delay is the best approach, but Michelle thought that bad news should always be delivered in a personal and direct way.
The topic of work/life balance was raised throughout the session, with each panellist giving their own advice for managing an equilibrium. Lyn emphasised the importance of creating a work/life balance that is sustainable and making health a priority. Other ideas included putting reminders in your phone at a particular time to stop working, creating a structured week with clearly defined time for work and for family, and educating people around you about your schedule.
Looking at where the industry will be in 3-5 years, the panellists spoke about the need for increased productivity and efficiency; which was already reflected in last night’s Federal Budget. Technology will also continue to be an integral part of the industry. Peita also suggested that credit advisers may start working together, and that perhaps the model of working from home may no longer be viable. Competition from international players may become more of an issue. And of course attracting new business and new credit advisers to the industry will be an ongoing challenge.
Panel members had some interesting perspectives and stories to tell about working in a male-dominated culture. Michelle Bannister said it’s important to earn respect and demonstrate knowledge so that you can build trust. Networking is a skill that women may find they are naturally skilled at, but dedicated time for networking should be planned for.