Diversity can protect brokers from risk, says FAST CEO

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    The current COVID-19 situation reinforces the case for diversity, says FAST CEO Brendan Wright.

    By leveraging the opportunity of diversity inclusion, broker business owners can create buffers around the impact of the pandemic and future crises in order to create sustainable businesses moving forward.

    MPA spoke with Wright about the launch of FAST’s six-part podcast series “Adjust the Contrast” and the ways diversity can help business owners deal with risk while creating opportunities.

    A FAST route to diversity

    According to Wright, the aggregator is a big believer in diversity and inclusion. He says diversity in thinking can lead to greater opportunities for business owners while protecting their businesses from risk.

    “Creating a culture that enables diversity in thinking, knowledge and capability across a whole team can really help differentiate a business so they can stand out,” he says.

    “Having it as a part of the way you do business you can create certainty, autonomy, and relatedness – and those three things are really important when you’re moving through uncertain and challenging times.”

    How the podcast series can help business owners

    “Adjust the Contrast”, hosted by former Masterchef winner Adam Liaw, is all about the ways diversity can make a big difference in business. Covering a range of topics such as biodiversity, diversity in the workplace and how to see diversity, the series features an eclectic mix of scientific and historical examples to explore the concept and the culture of diversity from several angles.

    It also features commentary and discussion from a wide range of experts such as distinguished professor of biology Professor Lesley Hughes and former Richmond CEO Cameron Schwab.

    “The practicality and the benefit of being inquisitive and being curious, and listening to a podcast series like this, with different and diverse points of view around a similar topic, enables brokers to think about what it means for their businesses, themselves and their customers,” he says.

    “The benefit is that it gives access to a different type of thinking with really interesting stories based on history and facts.”

    The potato famine and why broking is not a monoculture

    In episode one, The Case for Diversity, the Irish potato famine of the 19th century is sited as “an example of what happens when a monoculture goes wrong”.

    During the famine, the population of Ireland reduced by one quarter after one million people died and one million more emigrated to places such as Australia and the US.

    According to Wright, the mortgage broking industry is far from being a monoculture, yet even so there is a risk for “brokers who take longer to embrace diversity and think about what it means for their business”.

    “When you come to more challenging times, like what we’re going through now, what is the impact of that?” he asks.

    “For businesses that are doing more than home loans – they have a buffer to a certain extent around the challenges that they are facing in running their businesses.

    “They’ve got more opportunity to help a broader range of clients because they’re delivering mortgages, business lending and other things as well.”

    How biodiversity relates to mortgage broking

    In The Case for Diversity, Professor Lesley Hughes from Macquarie University talks about how biodiversity involves multiple linkages between things – so that if one link gets displaced, there are plenty of others that can take its place.

    Wright says the way the finance mortgage broking industry responded to the ASIC review into broker renumeration and the Royal Commission is a classic example of this concept in action.

    “The industry took a leadership position together about addressing what needed to be addressed off the back of the ASIC broker renumeration review and the royal commission,” he says.

    “We’ve learned, created new linkages, acted and leveraged a really diverse range of industry players from lenders, aggregators, brokers, industry bodies, consumer advocates to build a responsive solution.

    “Fast forward to now, we’ve got best interest duty coming in, which is appropriate, but in a way that can be delivered and be demonstrated tangibly by brokers in the industry.

    “That’s a classic example of where the linkages have been broken and action and adaptation has been applied in a positive way.”

    Diversity against challenges

    One of the biggest challenges brokers commonly face is the feeling that they need to have all the answers, says Wright.

    “Being curious, being inquisitive, creating an environment that enables other around you and in your business to want to speak up and contribute, and business owners leveraging that – particularly diversity in thinking – can make a real difference in how they deal to the risk, the challenges, and the opportunities they face with their clients and in their business,” he says.

    “The case for diversity has always been there. This podcast, and particularly the environment we’re in at the moment certainly reinforces that.

    “Take the opportunity to understand the concept and the culture of diversity inclusion and how it can help you continue to deliver to your clients and build sustainable businesses.”

    Related stories:

    • It’s time to take action for more diversity in business
    • Brendan Wright: Always learning
    • How diversity breeds success

    Original Article