Michael Russell eyes finance and real estate roles

Mortgage Choice’s outgoing boss has revealed that he has already been headhunted as he searches for his next leadership position.

Mortgage Choice announced in November that chief executive Michael Russell would depart at the end of this financial year.

The group said in December that he would be replaced by MLC executive John Flavell, who will join the company on 7 April as part of a transition process.

Mr Russell told Mortgage Business that he expected to take on another chief executive’s role and was also open to non-executive director opportunities.

He said he had already been approached by several parties but that the potential job offers had not appealed because they were Sydney-based roles and he wants to remain in Melbourne after six years of commuting.

Mr Russell said he would be attracted to something in retail financial services, franchising or real estate, and had identified several real estate groups with significant untapped potential.

He would also consider working in an unrelated industry, provided it was with an interesting business that had significant growth potential.

“At this stage, I haven’t turned my mind to what I’ll be doing after 1 July, because there is still a lot of unfinished work to do at Mortgage Choice over the next six months, but as we approach that date I’m sure I’ll put my head up and have a look at what opportunities are out there,” he said.

Mr Russell told Mortgage Business it was the right time to leave Mortgage Choice because he had achieved the strategic goals with which he was tasked when he joined in 2009.

“We have restored value eroded during the GFC and have established a number of new and, more importantly, sustainable opportunities for both the franchisor and franchisee to generate additional wealth from the Mortgage Choice brand,” he said.

Mr Russell said his current role has had a different focus from his previous position as chief executive of Choice Aggregation Services.

The Choice role was more about building a sustainable and profitable business from the ground up, whereas his time at Mortgage Choice has been about strategy, resource allocation and managing stakeholders such as staff, franchisees, shareholders, analysts and media, he added.

“I have always loved working with smart, motivated, self-employed people striving to build better businesses, and have found the push-pull relationship that exists between brokers and their head group to be a very healthy one when worked collaboratively,” he said.

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