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In Memoriam: Craig ‘Bakes’ Bacon, 1967–2023

Craig ‘Bakes’ Bacon, an instrumental player in building the electronic gateway to allow brokers to lodge loans electronically, has passed away suddenly at the age of 55.

Craig ‘Bakes’ Bacon, a financial services specialist and former head of broker relationships at NAB (2003–07), passed away suddenly on Friday (30 June) at the age of 55.

Mr Bacon, who was most recently the head of direct and digital banking at AMP Bank, had held a range of senior positions in the finance space over his career, starting at Colonial Mutual Life in the 1980s before becoming National Australia Bank’s head of retirement (1990–2000).

He led the development of BLSSA, the credit representative licence solution for the aggregation groups under NAB: PLAN Australia, Choice, and FAST.

A visionary and a connector

Over a 16-year career at NAB, Mr Bacon worked across retirement and financial planning before becoming head of broker relationships for NAB and Homeside Lending in 2003.

It was during this time that he used his problem-solving and empathetic skills to marry together the banking and broking channels to create a better and more transparent mortgage journey for borrowers.

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Following NAB’s acquisition of Challenger Mortgage Management (which rebranded to Advantedge), Mr Bacon became Advantedge’s head of financial services and broker development and was also responsible for licensing and credit advice as program director.

He has been credited as being an instrumental player in helping build the electronic gateway to allow brokers to lodge loans electronically and a champion of the professionalisation of the broking industry.

Steve Weston, who was general manager for residential and commercial lending at Challenger before working alongside Mr Bacon as general manager, broker platforms at NAB, commented that “Bakes was dedicated to professionalising the broking industry and making sure that brokers had everything they needed to comply with their regulations”.

“He was a visionary,” he said.

“While most of us can see things that are immediately obvious, he could see things two or three evolutions down the road. And he could rationalise and explain to people how, and why, we could get there.

“Craig was integral in setting up the BLSSA licence to allow brokers to operate under the PLAN, Choice, FAST licence and always had a focus on how to make life easier for brokers so they could become more profitable while ensuring that the best interests of the end customer were met.

“The best interests duty for brokers, which is now in place, is a good example of something that Bakes was talking about well before most. So, in some way, his vision has now been played out to benefit customers and brokers.”

On a personal note, Mr Weston added that his friend was “a really high-integrity, caring guy with a strong family focus”.

“He was always following people up and would always ask after family. He was a great connector and genuinely cared about people,” he said.

Stephen Moore, who was also integrally involved in NAB’s acquisition of the Advantedge group of businesses from Challenger reflected: “Craig was a deep and forward thinker and a larger-than-life bloke” who loved to share his wisdom and was always great for a laugh”.

Mr Moore remembered his penchant for amusing T-shirts, recalling an old photo of him wearing a T-shirt with a cartoon of two pigs in a compromising position alongside the words: ‘Makin’ bacon’.

“It still brings a smile to my face — very few would have the front to wear something like that. Bakes thought the T-shirt was fantastic,” Mr Moore said.

Reflecting on Mr Bacon’s integral work developing the BLSSA licence solution, the former Choice chief executive added: “At the time, having a single licence open to all brokers in PLAN, Choice, and FAST really was against the tide with many industry experts believing all brokers should have their own licence.

“Time, of course, has proven that being part of a quality licence is the right solution for many brokers,” Mr Moore said.

“As someone looking to the future it’s no surprise he ended up working in digital.

Blake Albones, chief sales officer at Galilee, who first met Mr Bacon when he joined PLAN Australia in 2002, commented: “Bakes leaves a legacy in the mortgage broking industry ... he was a great support and counsel to me when I was really kicking off my career — but that’s what Bakes did.

“I had the pleasure of working closely with him when he joined Advantedge and led the transformation of change when licensing of brokers was introduced across PLAN, Choice, and FAST, which was a complex project.

“He led from the front and had a huge impact on a lot of people in the banking industry. My sincere condolences to the Bacon family — we have lost one of the good ones!"

The AMP years

In 2012, Mr Bacon made the move to AMP Bank, joining the lender as head of transformation before taking on everyday banking and deposits in 2016 and then moving into the role of head of direct and digital banking in 2020.

In total, he served more than 11 years at the lender.

Sean O’Malley, the group executive of AMP Bank, said: “Craig, or Bakes as he was known, was a highly respected, influential, and longstanding member of AMP Bank’s team.

“He was a mentor to many of us and he provided wise counsel and good humour. His presence touched many at AMP as well as the partners, brokers, and customers he worked closely with.

“Bakes was a digital pioneer, a champion for customers, and innovator; be that with the mortgage broking industry or more recently through his leadership of our direct and digital channels.

“He will be remembered with great fondness by all of us at AMP.”

Industry remembers

Several leaders of the mortgage industry have also shared their memories of Mr Bacon, with John Mohnacheff, group manager, sales at Liberty, stating that he had known him for 20 years.

“I first met him when he was at NAB, working in the financial services area/Colonial Mutual. From there he moved into the banking third-party space and, although he moved on to various organisations, he always maintained his engagement with the third-party/ broker channel,” Mr Mohnacheff said.

“He was totally committed to the segment and became a well-regarded and respected member of this community.

“He was the consummate professional, always doing the right thing for broker and borrower. He had a quirky sense of humour and a quick retort to every situation but always with a touch of reality and market relevance. I will miss him.”

Gerald Foley, the managing director of aggregation company National Mortgage Brokers (nMB), said that Mr Bacon had been involved in the lending and mortgage broker industry for as long as he could remember.

“He always presented as professional, knowledgeable, and engaged in all his dealings. He was always looking for ways to build a better marketplace for lenders, borrowers, and, importantly, brokers,” Mr Foley said.

“He will be missed by everyone. Condolences to family and his many, many industry friends.”

Mr Bacon’s funeral service was held in Victoria yesterday (11 July) and was well attended by friends, family, and colleagues.

He is survived by his wife Andra and his children Paige and Bryce.

[Related: In Memoriam: Mick McClure, 1953–2023]

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