Financial Services Federation Inc (FSF)
AuSAE member since: April 2015
What we do?
The FSF is the industry body representing responsible finance and leasing companies (not the dodgy ones). Companies applying for membership with us have to be able to demonstrate (through a thorough due diligence process) how they are responsible lenders and that they treat their customers ethically. This is because we are advocating to Government, policy makers, regulators and the public on their behalf and we have to be able to know that we are not likely to be let down when doing that by some behaviour that would damage the reputation of FSF and its other members.
We also have a number of Affiliate members who are providers of services to finance companies such as the top accounting and legal firms, fintech providers, credit reporting agencies, etc.
Apart from our advocacy work which is aimed at ensuring sensible legislative and regulatory outcomes that provide best practice consumer protection whilst still allowing business to thrive and ensuring consumers know how responsible finance providers should treat them, we have an educational role to play for our member organisations. This is to ensure that they are kept updated with regulatory and other developments that might affect their businesses and also to allow for the sharing of best practice among the membership group.
We provide a series of networking events for staff of member companies throughout the year including quarterly meetings of our seven special interest groups and an annual conference and gala dinner which includes an awards programme recognising outstanding individual and corporate performances in responsible lending.
Finally, as the responsible members of the non-bank finance sector, our members have a role to play in setting standards of good behaviour towards consumers so we have developed a number of Codes which outline to consumers how responsible providers should treat them, what their rights and obligations are, how they can complain if something goes wrong, etc.
Number of Members:
We have 40 finance, leasing or credit-related insurance provider members and 18 Affiliate service-provider members.
2.6. That is me and our Marketing and Communications Manager, Hannah McKee, full-time and our Office Manager, Sue Bentley, 3 days per week.
Years in Association Management:
Coming up to 7 - and loving it.
How I got into Association Management
I’m a banker by trade and had spent (very) many years in various roles with Westpac including being a financial planner and Area Manager leading a team of private bank financial advisers across the North and South Islands. As a financial adviser myself I became a member of what was then the Institute of Financial Advisers (now part of Financial Advice New Zealand) as the professional body for financial advisers. I joined their Board as a practitioner director and eventually became their President during the time that the Financial Advisers Act was going through the submissions process until it finally became law in 2009.
I was very involved in that submissions and advocacy process so when I left Westpac and after a short break, the FSF role came up and it has fitted perfectly.
What I like about my job
The people I work with. Not only Hannah and Sue who are amazing but also the people working for our member organisations and the other stakeholders with whom I work. I really like the fact that we are making progress in ensuring that New Zealand consumers have access to finance when they need it that is provided responsibly and appropriately. Of course there are still cases where people, particularly some more vulnerable consumers, are being targeted by predatory lenders – which is of course abhorrent – but I like to think that we are making a difference in helping to get rid of these people and their revolting practices.
My Biggest Challenge
Not enough hours in the day. Like most Associations we’re 100% funded by our members’ subscriptions and for us we could increase that income by not being so fussy about who we admitted as members but then we’d be lowering our standards to their level rather than raising their standards to meet ours and we’re not prepared to do that. So we do what we do with 2.6 people. That was hard to get used to after coming from such a big organisation like Westpac where we had an IT Department and a Marketing Department and an Events Management Department, etc. Now Sue, Hannah and I are it – we are IT, we are Marketing, we are Events – and a whole lot else.
If we had more people we could do more obviously but I think we do a great job for our members with the resources we have (and it’s always nice to hear the members say so – either in person or through our various member surveys).
What I am most proud of at our association
We’ve gone from a situation when I first joined and just following the effects in New Zealand of the Global Financial Crisis, where everyone believed all finance companies were evil. That they lent irresponsibly to people who couldn’t afford to repay it and all sorts of other perceptions which couldn’t have been wider of the mark if they’d tried. We’ve rebuilt the reputation of the non-bank finance sector first with regulators, then with consumer agencies, then with the public so that now there is an understanding that credit, provided responsibly, is essential to New Zealand’s economic well-being and that of its citizens.
Favourite AuSAE Event
Given that I’m an AuSAE Board member and its Vice President, the answer would have to be I love all of them. I’m lucky enough to be able to go to both New Zealand’s LINC conference and also the ACE conference AuSAE runs in Australia. I go to virtually every AuSAE networking event held in Wellington and often some in Auckland if I’m going to be there with my FSF work. They’re all fantastic and Toni, Brett and the team do an amazing job (there’s another little team punching way above its weight in terms of the value they provide to members).
Probably the best way to answer would be to say my favourite event is the last one I went to.
What I want to learn from other AuSAE members
How AuSAE has helped me
There’s no doubt in my mind that being an AuSAE member helps me to better run my organisation. Our conference is as slick and professional as it is not just because Sue and Hannah are fantastic organisers but because of the great tips and ideas we’ve picked up from events like ACE, LINC and the one-day conference symposium Brett ran in Auckland and Wellington last year.
My work day is taken up with working on issues that matter to my members’ businesses. My time with AuSAE is about me working on my business. If you’re not a member of AuSAE and you work in the NFP, Associations sector – then you should be.
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February 2018 Member Spotlight Alison McKessar - Association of Administrative Professionals NZ