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Aussie CEO to step down

James Symond, the CEO of major brokerage brand Aussie, is to leave the business following the imminent merger of Aussie and Lendi.

Following a 30-year career with the company, including the last seven years as CEO, James Symond has announced he will leave his position once the company completes its merger with Lendi.

Completion of the transaction is expected to occur by “mid-calendar year 2021” and will see Lendi shareholders hold the majority shareholding of 55 per cent in the merged business, while Aussie’s current owner, CBA, would hold a 45 per cent shareholding.

It has not yet been confirmed who the CEO of Aussie will be moving forward. However, James Symond has now confirmed that he will be leaving the business upon completion. 

Noting that he has worked at the company since he was 19 years old (and having held a wide range of roles and leadership positions over the course of his career), Mr Symond said he was proud of the company’s growth.

Mr Symond said: “I am extremely proud of what Aussie has achieved over the past three decades. From humble beginnings, Aussie has come a long way, from revolutionising and bringing healthy competition to the Australian home lending industry to where we are today with the largest retail footprint of any mortgage broker brand in Australia.

“Aussie now has a national distribution network with over 220 stores, over 1,000 brokers and 300 team members, who are part of the family-style culture John and I successfully built over three decades”, he added. 

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As CEO, Mr Symond has played a large role in shaping and advocating on behalf of the mortgage broking industry, particularly during the royal commission.

“I’ve always been proud of the broking industry and Aussie’s role in advocating for customers,” he said.

“Now, with over 60 per cent of home loans in Australia provided by brokers, the industry is at an exciting new stage of growth, and technology will play a major part in this,” Mr Symond said. 

“I thank all of the people in our team and the industry for their support and enthusiasm in building the Aussie brand and helping consumers with what is one of the most important financial decisions in their lives,” he continued.

“Aussie and the industry has been my commercial life since I was 19, and I’m incredibly proud of the legacy that John and I created. 

“We established a culture, systems and processes that really help mortgage brokers and their families succeed. Today, Aussie is one of the most recognised and loved brands in Australia, backed by our teams and brokers. 

“The business is strong, and kept on the same growth path, will continue to strongly prosper in the future,” he concluded.

David Hyman, co-founder and CEO of Lendi, said: “The Symond family has built a great business over the last three decades, and we wish James the best of luck in his new endeavours.

“We look forward to building on Aussie’s strong foundations as we bring the businesses together with best in class systems, technology and processes to ensure continued growth for decades to come.”

How the Aussie brand grew under the Symond family

Launched in 1992, Aussie was one of the first non-bank lenders seeking to offer better rates and service to Australian home owners.

Speaking to Mortgage Business earlier this year for the Mortgage & Finance Leader podcast, Mr Symond said that he was “very privileged to have been right beside” his uncle, John Symond, when he first opened Aussie – which, at that point, was a non-bank lender.

“[We] had to evolve throughout the years,” Mr Symond said at the time. 

“We evolved to residential security program in conjunction with Macquarie; we evolved to be a mortgage broker; we evolved into having an ownership with Commonwealth Bank, and now we’re evolving to a merger with Lendi. So, from a technology point of view, that should help us obtain excellence in that part of the industry.

“So, for us, the change has been the one constant. We had to zig when we had to zig and we had to zag when we had to zag, and so far, we’ve done that pretty well,” he told Mortgage & Finance Leader.

Talking about the transition to become a mortgage brokerage, Mr Symond said that one of the reasons why Aussie shifted to become a mortgage brokerage was partly due to the funding markets (“being a non-bank lender through those funding markets really was a bit too boutique for us”) limiting the type of borrower it could lend to.

“[There were] mums and dads from Darwin to Tasmania who were looking for an Aussie Home Loan, but with our funding we could only handle particular clients [who had particular characteristics] in particular ways and we were turning back so many people. 

“Our distribution was becoming larger and larger yet the product we were able to sell was in a single lane. As a non-bank lender, we needed to change.”

He continued: “We spent 24 months on a project to get us from being a non-bank lender to being a retail mortgage broker and that involved some serious and significant software at the time, that you certainly could buy off the shelf, and we invented that, we rolled that out, we retrained our people from being loan consultants to being brokers and we exploded that in 2022-2033 and just hit the streets and haven't looked back since then.”

Find out more from James Symond, the history of Aussie and what he hopes the future will hold for the brand in the recent Mortgage and Finance Leader podcast:


[Related: Lendi-Aussie merger details revealed]

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