Australian Mortgage Awards 2021

A celebration of the industry’s best

On a Friday night in mid-October, the Australian Mortgage Awards recognised the best in the mortgage and finance industry with a virtual awards celebration. Hosted by TV and radio presenter Erin Molan, this year’s ceremony saw awards handed out in 29 categories to finance brokers, BDMs, lenders, banks, aggregators and service providers.

For the 12th year in a row, the awards were sponsored by major bank Westpac. CEO Peter King called the event a great opportunity to celebrate the industry’s outstanding achievements over the past 12 months – despite not being able to do so in person.

King praised the way the broking industry had come through the pandemic. “Since COVID, the industry has shown new ways of working and shown how resilient and innovative it is,” he said. “Brokers continue to play a key role in helping customers with the Australian dream: buying a home. They trust and value your independent service and advice, and they look to brokers to help navigate a complex landscape of choice.”

Adapting to a new way of doing business
The industry was certainly there for borrowers over the last two years as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. In March 2020 as the international borders closed and restrictions were put in place to limit movement and interaction, many Australians lost their jobs or had to press pause on their businesses.

Navigating the options for borrowers presented some complexity, so brokers stepped in to support their existing clients with solutions like repayment holidays, refinancing, or cash flow options.

In fact, the market turned out to be much more resilient, and throughout 2020 brokers saw record numbers of refinances and first home buyers.

Brokers also had to adapt their own businesses to the sudden shift to working from home and no longer being able to see clients in person. It was a learning curve for many brokers who had to implement new technology and rethink their business strategies, but when the lockdowns and restrictions were put in place in NSW and Victoria again this year, brokers were much better prepared.

Banks also had to double down on their digital offering to ensure that borrowers and brokers could continue to submit loans, even though they could not complete the usual steps in person. This year’s AMAs celebrated the digital efforts of both brokers and banks.

The biggest winner of the year was mortgage broker Louisa Sanghera from Zippy Financial, who took home the individual award for Broker of the Year – Independent, while the brokerage also won the Most Effective Digital Strategy award. Commenting on Zippy Financial’s digital strategy, Sanghera said that over the last year the brokerage had focused on building its online presence. “We achieved this by taking complete

ownership and control of our communication channels and continuing to grow our online community groups,” she said. “Our strategy consists of a dynamic and interconnected network of websites, social media platforms, online magazines, online advertising, online content marketing, community events, PR and direct communications.”

Sanghera’s wins also led to her taking home the biggest award of the night: Australian Broker of the Year.

“As an independent mortgage broker, winning Australian Broker of the Year is such a huge deal,” she said. “We were up against some well-established and much larger brokerages, and everyone else nominated in this category is more than deserving to win. So I’m honoured and overwhelmed with gratitude to have been selected to come out on top and win this award.”

Sanghera thanked her team for all the hard work they had done, saying the year had been “crazy busy”. She said winning three awards on the night “means the world” to her. “Not only is it a validation of the hard work I’ve put into the business for almost seven years now, but it’s also a testament to the amazing team I have behind me, supporting me every step of the way. I couldn’t have done this without their support and dedication,” she said. “We have faced several challenges throughout the years, and winning these awards gives us more fuel to burn the fire that we need to keep on pushing forward, to achieve more and to help make more clients reach their goals and dreams. These awards would not be possible without the continuous trust we receive from them, and it motivates us to improve the quality of service we provide to them more and more.”

One of the other big winners of the night was Home Loan Experts, which won Liberty Australian Brokerage of the Year. This was off the back of winning Brokerage of the Year (>20 staff). Increasing its loan settlement value by almost 71% in FY21, the brokerage aims to “answer all leads, not just high pay-off customers”. Home Loan Experts mortgage broker Prakash Rai said it felt “surreal” to be receiving the award. “I’d also like to extend my thanks to my team at Home Loan Experts, without whom this would not have been possible. I’m forever grateful for your support,” he said.

Recognising the best lenders
With the increase in lending business during COVID-19, brokers worked through the challenge of lengthening turnaround times. SLAs grew as banks tightened their lending criteria and spent more time diving into borrowers’ living expenses.

In MPA’s surveys this year, brokers voiced their frustrations with the increased turnaround times, but commended non-banks for performing much better. Lenders were celebrated at this year’s AMAs as well, with awards recognising those that had provided the best service to brokers over the last year. Taking out Bank of the Year was Bankwest. Addressing the issue of turnaround times in its submission, Bankwest said it took a continuous improvement approach to managing application volumes as well as increasing the number of staff in its processing team.

Bankwest’s general manager of home buying, Peter Bouhlas, said he was delighted to accept the award on the night. “Our vision is to deliver brilliant customer experiences every day, and we aim to offer simple, friendly service, security and value for Australians from coast to coast,” he said. “With 80% of our home loan customers choosing Bankwest through their broker, we place great importance and respect on our third-party relationships. Bankwest’s ambition is to be the best broker bank in Australia, and we can only

achieve that by working closely with brokers and adapting to their needs – and this award suggests we’re on the right path.”

The Non-Bank of the Year award went to Pepper Money. Helping brokers through the COVID-19 period, the non-bank focused on introducing service innovations and broker education.Barry Saoud, general manager of mortgages and commercial lending at Pepper Money, accepted the award and thanked the non-bank’s team, its customers, brokers and business partners. “We feel really fortunate to be part of an industry that is providing real-life solutions to our customers, so I thank [them for their] support,” he said. “I’d also like to acknowledge and thank all the finalists; we feel very proud to be part of a group that’s providing alternative lending solutions.”

While only a few of the winners of this year’s Australian Mortgage Awards have been mentioned here, all the winners are important and deserving of celebration. Congratulations to everyone who was named as a finalist in 2021; in such a busy and complex year, it was a tight judging process. Full details of the finalists and award winners are highlighted over the following pages. MPA looks forward to seeing you all in person at next year’s Australian Mortgage Awards.

 

Here are the winners of Australian Mortgage Awards 2021:


National Awards


WESTPAC AUSTRALIAN BROKER OF THE YEAR


LIBERTY AUSTRALIAN BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR

 

Broker Awards


BROKER OF THE YEAR – REGIONAL


LA TROBE BROKER OF THE YEAR – COMMERCIAL


FBAA BROKER OF THE YEAR – INDEPENDENT


PEPPER MONEY BROKER OF THE YEAR – SPECIALIST LENDING


EQUITY-ONE BROKER OF THE YEAR – PRODUCTIVITY


MFAA YOUNG GUN OF THE YEAR (FRANCHISE)


ADELAIDE BANK YOUNG GUN OF THE YEAR (INDEPENDENT)

 

Brokerage Awards


BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (1-5 STAFF)

Excellence Awardee:


BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (6-20 STAFF)


RESIMAC BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR – DIVERSIFICATION


COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (>20 STAFF)


BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR – REGIONAL


NEXTGEN.NET NEW BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR


BOQ BROKER BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE FROM AN INDIVDUAL OFFICE


MOST EFFECTIVE DIGITAL STRATEGY – BROKERAGE

 

Industry Awards


BEST INDUSTRY MARKETING CAMPAIGN


BEST INDUSTRY SERVICE

Excellence Awardee:

Excellence Awardee:


PRIME CAPITAL AGGREGATOR OF THE YEAR (UP TO 500 BROKERS)


ONDECK AGGREGATOR OF THE YEAR (OVER 500 BROKERS)

 

BDM Awards


BEST MAJOR BANK BDM


BANKWEST BEST AGGREGATOR BDM


BEST NON-MAJOR BANK BDM


MORTGAGE CHOICE BEST NON-BANK BDM

 

Lender Awards


NON-BANK OF THE YEAR

Excellence Awardee:


FINTECH LENDER OF THE YEAR


MSA NATIONAL BANK OF THE YEAR


LOAN SERVICES TEAM OF THE YEAR


MOST EFFECTIVE DIGITAL STRATEGY – LENDER

Methodology

NOMINATIONS 
The call for nominations went out to all mortgage professionals and organisations in the industry, including brokers, brokerages, aggregators, lenders, BDMs, underwriters, agents and service providers. Nominations were open from 24 May 2021 to 25 June 2021. Nominees were asked to provide their details and a brief reason for nomination, with a 500 word limit. 

RESEARCH 
The Australian Mortgage Awards team conducted research and drew on content and information in MPA and Australian Broker magazines to support and supplement nominations received and to ensure that no one deserving of recognition was missed. 

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES 
Once all nominations and research were complete, excellence awardees were shortlisted in each category and notified by email. All excellence awardees were invited to complete a detailed submission to address the category criteria in more detail. Finalists were then listed on the Australian Mortgage Awards website and promoted in MPA and Australian Broker magazines. 

JUDGING 
The Australian Mortgage Awards team forwarded all completed submissions to the independent judging panel made up of mortgage and finance industry leaders and senior representatives. The panel assessed and voted for winners in each category according to the relevant category criteria. Judgement was impartial, balanced, incisive and fair. 
 
WINNERS 
A simple points system was used to aggregate the judges’ votes, and the excellence awardee with the top score in each category was named the winner