October 10, 2018

Responsible lending stars recognised at FSF Crediting Excellence Awards

Fresh thinking when it comes to finance, and an ability to "walk the talk" with responsible lending were common themes among those who took out the second-ever Financial Services Federation Award last week.

The 2019 judges, Soraiya Daud from FinCap, the national body for financial mentors; former Banking Ombudsman Deborah Battell; and FSF's former legal counsel Rob McInnes, were impressed with the jump in quality and quantity of entries, having almost doubled from 2018 to 2019.

"One thing that shone through in the entries was that they were a reflection of New Zealand, its diversity, and its values. The best applicants in all categories showed commitment to innovation and improvement through lateral thinking, and an understanding that the right thing for the customer is also the right thing for the company, especially with regard to responsible lending," the judges said.

"We felt the Awards process demonstrate a positive change within the industry to a more empathetic way of interacting with customers, and finding ways to do things differently to improve their future situation rather than just declining an application for credit. All candidates demonstrably displayed a commitment to responsible lending."

Go Car Finance took home two awards once again, after achieving the same result in 2018.

Yazid Sheik received the Autosure New Finance Professional Award for his examples of sensitivity and initiative in dealing with customers with vulnerabilities, while Simon Gormley took out the Centrix Outstanding Support Person Award.

Simon joined Go Car Finance in 2016 after graduating with a Bachelor of Design - a degree not traditionally associated with the finance industry but heavily based on the way people interact with and use products and services, Go Car Finance says. Simon always wears the "customer hat" to challenge the way the business looks at things.

The judges said Simon took an innovative approach to the finance industry, "His ideas are fresh, and he is the sort of person the industry and New Zealand needs to think outside of the box like no-one else in this category," they said.

Among the winners was also Provident Leadership Award winner Kirsty Walker, Credit Lending and Recoveries Manager at Home Direct, who impressed the judges with the number of initiatives she has lead in the company that have demonstrably reduced bad debt.

The first corporate Award - the FSCL Innovation Award - went to Experian for their fraud-reducing product Fraud Share, while the Equifax Outstanding Corporate Citizen Award went to Avanti Finance for how they demonstrably living by their values of "putting people first, being relentlessly helpful, and doing what's right".

Each winner received $500 towards professional development or towards a charity of choice.

"Nowhere else is excellence in responsible lending being acknowledged like this and yet it is so important," FSF Executive Director Lyn McMorran, said.

"There is a saturation in publicity about dodgy lenders which leads to the perception that are the only option to consumers, when that's clearly far from the case.

"It is important that New Zealand has an ethical and responsible finance sector, and we see these Awards as contributing to the setting of high standards of responsible lending which should be aspired to by the whole sector. A huge congratulations to all the deserving winners and finalists, we are already excited for 2020 and look forward to receiving an even great number of entries."

2019 Winners

Autosure New Finance Professional

Winner: Yazid Sheik, Go Car Finance
Finalists: Alicia Jauhari, Go Car Finance; Janet Sebastian, Home Direct

Centrix Outstanding Support Professional

Winner: Simon Gormley, Go Car Finance
Finalists: Sarah Heffer, Go Car Finance; Chrismari Scheun, Avanti Finance; Scott Liang, Flexigroup

Provident Insurance Leadership Award

Winner: Kirsty Walker, Home Direct
Finalists: KK Lai, Go Car Finance;
Petr Belotckii, GoCar Finance; Angela Shutkowski, Avanti Finance

Financial Services Complaints Limited (FSCL) Innovation Award

Winner: Experian
Finalists: Illion Open Data Solutions and Centrix

Equifax Corporate Citizen Award

Winner: Avanti Finance
Finalists: Latitude Financial Services; and FlexiGroup New Zealand

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