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Industry welcomes new MFAA CEO

Members of the broking industry have welcomed the appointment of Anja Pannek as the new chief executive of the Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia.

The former CEO of aggregation group PLAN Australia, Anja Pannek, has been confirmed as the association’s next CEO, effective from 5 September 2022.

Ms Pannek will take over the position from outgoing CEO Mike Felton, who will retire from full-time work next month. 

The incoming CEO has extensive experience in the broker and mortgage distribution space, having held a range of leadership roles at several aggregation and lending companies. 

She held the position of CEO in PLAN Australia from 2016–22 and most recently moved into the position of group executive, lending solutions and strategy at the Loan Market Group following its acquisition of the aggregation company.

The new MFAA CEO also has extensive banking experience, having worked as the chief financial officer (CFO) of Challenger’s white label mortgage management division (which encompassed the PLAN, Choice and FAST aggregation businesses) and played an integral role during NAB’s acquisition of the brand. 

Announcing the new appointment, MFAA chair Rose De Rossi said Ms Pannek’s experience in commercial roles both with – and alongside – the broker channel made her the “perfect fit” for the position. 

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“This is a unique role, in that it requires industry knowledge and commercial expertise, as well as strength in strategy, advocacy and communications,” the MFAA chair said. 

“Anja’s experience as a CEO, a CFO, and as a leader in aggregator businesses made her the standout candidate among an exceptionally talented field.

“The board agreed that Anja’s long experience within the sector will allow her to hit the ground running in this role, and we found her vision for the industry closely aligns with the MFAA’s strategy, particular in terms of continuing the mortgage broking journey from an ‘industry’ to a ‘profession’.

“Anja is also a brilliant communicator and presenter, as you would expect from someone who has been in leadership roles for more than 20 years.”  

Retiring MFAA CEO Mr Felton welcomed the appointment of his successor, noting Ms Pannek’s “proven track record” and thorough understanding of the industry. 

“Anja is an outstanding appointment for the MFAA who has excelled in previous leadership roles within our industry, and I am delighted to hand the baton over to her as my successor,” he said.

“Anja has an exceptional working knowledge of our industry and the issues brokers face and is well known to the MFAA team, given she held the role of president of the MFAA Aggregator Forum for many years, and has worked in various businesses within the channel.

“I have every confidence that Anja will be an amazing leader for the team, and I am looking forward to spending time with her over the coming weeks as we transition and conduct a thorough handover.”

The MFAA said that the board “could not be happier” with Ms Pannek’s appointment, noting that there was “plenty of time for Anja to get her feet under the table” before she formally commences on 5 September.

“We’re all looking forward to working with her,” Ms De Rossi said. 

‘Right skillset to succeed’

Several members of the mortgage and finance industry have welcomed the new appointment, with Peter White AM, the managing director of the Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBA), stating: “On behalf of the FBAA I congratulate Anja Pannek on her appointment as CEO of the MFAA. 

“I have known Anna for some time and wish her the best.”

Similarly, Anthony Waldron, CEO of Mortgage Choice, REA Group (and who previously worked alongside Ms Pannek at NAB), said that her appointment was “fantastic news for the MFAA and for the entire mortgage broking industry.” 

“Her extensive experience at the broker, aggregator and lender levels means the industry can be confident Anja brings the right skillset to succeed in this critical role,” Mr Waldron said.

“Having worked closely with Mike Felton and the MFAA through some of the most intense change in our industry, I know he is leaving a wonderful legacy that will remain in great hands. 

“Mortgage Choice looks forward to working with Anja and the MFAA to continue to position the broking industry for future growth.” 

Several members of industry also took to LinkedIn to congratulate the incoming MFAA CEO on her appointment.

Writing in a LinkedIn post, Loan Market executive chairman Sam White commented: “I’m delighted that the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) board has appointed Anja Pannek to the role of CEO. It’s a role designed specifically for her skill sets. 

“In Anja’s time as CEO of PLAN, and more recently as head of strategy and lending products, I saw her commitment to the industry, to sustainable solutions for brokers and to the need to continue to improve regulation and customer outcomes.

“I believe she will work well with both brokers, aggregators, lenders and regulators and I look forward to continuing to work with Anja in this new role.”

Nicole Triandos, head of strategic partnerships, broker distribution at National Australia Bank (NAB), (who also previously worked alongside Ms Pannek) said the move was “amazing for our industry” while the senior governance manager at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), Emily Black, suggested it was a terrific appointment.

Travis Hall, head of distribution at Yellow Brick Road, also welcomed the move, stating it was “excellent news” and “great to know the mortgage broker industry continues to be in safe hands”.

Meanwhile, Michael Russell, managing director of Money Quest Australia, outlined that it was a “wonderful appointment”, adding that Ms Pannek “will do an outstanding job representing our industry”.

[Related: Brokers writing majority of bank mortgages]

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