Whether it is a matter of entrepreneurship or business transformation, two essential ingredients for success are a visionary leader and an excellent team. This is precisely the combination that has helped Loan Market Group become such a powerful force in helping customers reach their property and financial dreams throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Joanne Church, Chief Operations Officer for the company’s MyCRM technology, eschews the characteristics of a visionary leader. She has been the driver of a digital transformation that many would baulk at - how to bring a 118-year old property business into the digital age, using data and innovative technologies to disrupt.
Church’s passions are people, process and getting things done. She is also fuelled by nurturing people and helping them grow - she recounts how, over her years in business, she has learnt that people are the most important ingredient in any successful project.
Those people, she states, have been fundamental in her achieving Loan Market’s transformation journey. “Reporting back in 2012 was completely manual, using Excel spreadsheets and a lot of cut-and-paste. My focus when I joined the company as a project manager was to assess the current state of corporate reporting and see how to manage it all better; at that time we didn’t have a technology team though, and were not ready to invest in software development.”
One of Church’s key strengths is understanding complex problems, distilling them into understandable components and finding ways to solve them. So, she set about exploring the new technologies that would transform Loan Market’s operations. “By the end of 2015 we had gone from nothing to having a corporate platform that could manage referrals, manage onboarding, provide reporting as well as a vehicle for engaging with our brokers.”
Ultimately, every project is about ‘getting it done’, Church believes. And so, she has been wholly driven to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved. That extends to overseeing the shift from essentially third-provided solutions to the development and implementation of Loan Market’s MyCRM technology. “I was proud of what we had managed to get in place,” says Church, “but we had little control over the development and maintenance of the third party applications. We wanted to allow the brokers to create a truly online experience for their clients while still giving them the benefit of their advice and know-how.”
As befits her belief in people, Church is keen to highlight that the implementation of this technology has been far from a solo effort: “The team we put together really started in December 2014 when we acquired a company called Split It, and with it, a comparison site called Better Bills,” she says. “We wanted comparison functionality for mortgage loans, empowering customers to do their own research and compare products.
Today, Church leads the team (both onshore and offshore) that provides support to the users of MyCRM in Australia. She also oversees general operations and contributes to the ongoing development of the platform. One of the most important steps to reaching this position, she reiterates, has been the management of significant cultural change within Loan Market Group. This, rather fittingly, has only strengthened her view on the importance of strong leadership and vision, those very characteristics that have already been demonstrated so ably throughout her career.
“I think the key takeaway from our experience could be to not underestimate the value of data migration, and the importance of that data to the people who have cultivated its capture over many years. To that I would add that it is important to take users on the journey with you when making major changes. MyCRM was built and continues to be enhanced with close collaboration with our user base. We feel this sets us apart from other technology platforms and aggregators. We use an in-built tool to allow users to suggest enhancements and vote on ideas, and this is what guides our prioritisation for development.”