Industry veteran saluted for 35 years of service
An affinity with numbers is what drew the CEO of Avanti Finance to banking and finance and after 35 years in the industry, he’s preparing to retire.
Mark Mountcastle (pictured) has worked in finance for most of his 43-year career. Entering the industry when he finished school, he found a sense of enjoyment within the sector which has kept him engaged ever since.
Having started at non-bank lender Avanti Finance nine years ago in 2015, Mountcastle said that he’d been fortunate to work with “some pretty special people” and felt privileged to have led the company through some “significant achievements”.
One of his initial goals as CEO was to scale the business, one that he believes has well and truly been reached.
“My philosophy is always that I want to leave things in a better state than they were when I found them,” Mountcastle said. “The business is a bigger, healthier and more vibrant business than when I started and has a fantastic platform for whatever may come next.”
Non-bank sector provides viable alternative, Avanti Finance CEO says
The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) over 2007 and 2008 and its impact on the finance sector was significant, and as a consequence, non-bank lenders have carried a “bit of a burden” in relation to the public perception of that time, he said.
Non-banks are now getting to a point where negative perceptions have started to ease and are viewed by consumers in a more positive light.
“The role and place of non-bank lenders in the New Zealand market is probably much better respected now than it has been in a long time,” Mountcastle said.
“I think it’s starting to get some traction with the public and regulators as a useful and viable option for people.”
While the core banking system serves a strong purpose, Mountcastle acknowledged that without a viable non-bank sector, a portion of the population was “at risk of being unbanked”.
The prevalence of the banking sector has hampered the ability to provide alternative options in home mortgage lending, he said.
“I think the fact that we’re now getting established players who are providing a viable option for people is a very positive thing.”
Changes resulting from either the enquiry into retail banking or through New Zealand bank capital requirements is likely to mean that having a viable non-bank option will be “a great thing for the New Zealand public”, he said.
Looking ahead, Mountcastle hopes to see the non-bank sector follow progress made in Australia, where the sector represents a meaningful proportion of the market as a viable alternative to mainstream banks.
Attracting the attention of regulators, providing an understanding of the way the sector operates, its role and its importance to the overall health of New Zealand’s financial system, will provide opportunities for the sector to grow.
Mortgage advisers provide unique service
There's an adage that people get what they pay for, but financial advisory is one of the rare exceptions.
There’s a lot of talk about the value of shopping around. Mortgage and financial advisers deliver this in a physical sense for their customers at no cost, he said.
“For most people, a financial commitment is sufficiently meaningful in their overall life position that having someone to give them advice is a very positive thing.”
So after a 43-year career, 35 of which were in banking and finance, what’s next for Avanti Finance’s longstanding CEO?
“As a believer in lifelong learning, being able to cast the net a little bit wider and get curious about some new things is pretty exciting for me,” Mountcastle said.
Mountcastle will retire as CEO of Avanti Finance on December 15.
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