Cre­at­ing a mod­ern bank­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

Business First - - FRONT PAGE -

There’s some­thing al­lur­ing about the sea, and in par­tic­u­lar the surf: wait­ing for a wave to ar­rive, not know­ing how hard it will hit and how this will im­pact your bal­ance on the board, or whether you will be able to stay on … stay afloat. There is a dan­ger about surf­ing that is as ex­hil­a­rat­ing as it is fright­en­ing at times. And yet, the allure of jumping on a board is too hard to ig­nore. The sea draws you back, the surf chal­lenges you to be­come one with it and ride it through all its ebbs and flows. You feel like once you have mas­tered the surf, you can master any­thing. Is there some­thing spir­i­tual about it? I guess that’s an in­di­vid­ual thing. Yet, how you face chal­lenges and trans­for­ma­tional mo­ments is def­i­nitely some­thing that the sea and surf brings to the fore.

Jamie McPhee took up surf­ing nine years ago when he was 40. He is now try­ing to con­vince his two daugh­ters to hit the waves. And why not? Their Anglesea prop­erty sits on a cliff and looks right over the ocean. Yet for the Ade­laide born pa­tri­arch of this fam­ily, the surf is an ex­ten­sion of his sense of how to ap­proach life – ever shift­ing, chal­leng­ing and how to nav­i­gate the big waves that come to try and knock you.

McPhee has an affin­ity with sport in gen­eral.

“I spent a lot of time play­ing sport. I played cricket and foot­ball and when I stopped play­ing foot­ball, I tried golf.”

McPhee un­der­states his sport­ing skill. He ac­tu­ally cap­tained the Aus­tralian un­der-19 cricket team. This was a team that boasted two fu­ture Aus­tralian cap­tains in Mark Tay­lor and Steve Waugh as well as Mark Waugh and Craig McDer­mott. McPhee also played foot­ball in the South Aus­tralia Foot­ball League.

The lessons he has learnt from sport are with him to this day and in­form the

way he op­er­ates ME Bank.

“I am a huge be­liever in a team first and in­di­vid­ual sec­ond lead­er­ship model. Sport op­er­ates in that type of en­vi­ron­ment and team­mates have a per­sonal com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion not only to their ca­reers but to their team as well. This is what sets apart suc­cess­ful in­di­vid­u­als and teams. Watch­ing those ded­i­cated cham­pi­ons it was ev­i­dent they had the where­withal and fo­cus to suc­ceed.”

McPhee is still in­volved with cricket as a board mem­ber with Mel­bourne Rene­gades. The chang­ing na­ture of cricket is another as­pect of sport that has rel­e­vance to business.

“Change is fun­da­men­tal to growth. When we talk about business we are in a unique pe­riod in his­tory. There is cur­rently a tec­tonic shift from the in­dus­trial to the dig­i­tal era. It is as pro­found as the in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion. That era went from sin­gle pro­duc­tion of goods to mass pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­tated by ma­chines. To­day, it is the use of data that is fun­da­men­tally de­sign­ing a su­pe­rior cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence … ev­ery or­gan­i­sa­tion is be­ing im­pacted by this. Take Bor­ders for in­stance. Peo­ple were say­ing for four years prior to their col­lapse that they needed to run more ef­fi­cient book­stores. But the real is­sue was called Ama­zon. Fair­fax’s car clas­si­fied was im­pacted by busi­nesses such as carsales.com.au. To­day we need to build en­vi­ron­ments that are con­sumer vi­able. If you look at cricket, the One Day se­ries ended up fund­ing Test cricket be­cause it ap­pealed to con­sumers and wasn’t just male ori­ented. Now the Big Bash, which runs for a cou­ple of hours per match, means fam­i­lies are at­tend­ing cricket again. The AFL has done a bril­liant job with cre­at­ing an even de­mo­graphic of 50% male and fe­male con­sumers. It brought the prod­uct to the con­sumer mar­ket. Some might say the Big Bash is not real cricket, but real cricket to me is look­ing through the lens of the con­sumer and de­vel­op­ing a prod­uct that ap­peals to con­sumers. In that sense there is no dif­fer­ence be­tween sport and business.”

Sport has al­ways been a pas­sion for McPhee. It is ev­i­dent in his CV and is brought home when you speak with him. How­ever, the pas­sion for bank­ing didn’t come un­til later on.

After com­plet­ing an en­gi­neer­ing de­gree, he had no idea what he wanted to do. He felt no en­gage­ment with the pro­fes­sion. Some­one sug­gested he go and play cricket in Eng­land – which he did. While there he took a job in a bank but had no idea where he was go­ing, but there was an almost in­stant rap­port.

“I think back to the sub­jects I en­joyed while I was study­ing en­gi­neer­ing and they were fo­cused on game the­ory and fi­nan­cial mod­el­ling. So I walked into the UK of­fice of a mer­chant bank on a Mon­day and it was a real buzz. The stock mar­ket had just crashed and this was a business that was trad­ing for­eign ex­change and in­ter­est rates. It was fast paced and I re­ally en­joyed it, but I knew noth­ing about fi­nance or bank­ing. When they were talk­ing about Bonds, I thought they were talk­ing about Alan and Eileen. My knowl­edge was poor and the money mar­kets were new, but I bor­rowed a lot of books and de­voured them.”

He was there for 18 months be­fore head­ing back to Ade­laide and tak­ing a job in the Trea­sury depart­ment with the Co-oper­a­tive Build­ing So­ci­ety, which soon be­came the Ade­laide Bank and later Bendigo and Ade­laide Bank. The merger be­tween the two was fa­cil­i­tated by McPhee and brought Ade­laide Bank’s core com­pe­ten­cies in whole­sale mort­gages, mar­gin lend­ing and port­fo­lio fund­ing to­gether with Bendigo Bank’s unique com­mu­nity fo­cused

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