The seasoned traveller

As iconic songwriter Paul Kelly sang in the early 1990s, “from little things big things grow”. It’s an apt sentiment for Glenn Mitchell’s journey in the mortgage and finance industry, which began as a postage clerk at NAB in the late 1970s “licking stamps and sweeping the streets out the front of the branch”. He’s come a long way since, as the national commercial business development manager at PLAN Australia.

Prior to entering the finance world, Mitchell was invited to play for the Carlton under-19s in the AFL, having grown up in sports-mad Victoria.

“I grew up on sport but I never thought I was good enough to play at that level, but I knew I was good enough to play country footy with my friends.”

When Mitchell joined the outer suburban Croydon branch of NAB, he built a good rapport with his first bank manager through their mutual passion for footy. “He also liked horse racing and so did I, so it was good having a manager and a mentor. He thought I had potential in the bank for a career and recommended I move to Melbourne to work in branches in the city and progress myself through getting lending skills and being a teller,” Mitchell explains. “I still think back today that I wouldn’t have been able to take on the roles I have if I didn’t have that grounding in the bank.”

After a decade working for NAB, where Mitchell says he “was probably pretty fortunate, they fast-tracked me through different roles in the banking system”, he moved on to Heine Funds Management. “I agonised moving from the bank into the private sector. I decided it’s no good saying later on that I should have tried it or given it a go. I thought there’d be something else that would challenge me a little bit more.”

His role involved funding people into the stock market. “They put me through the Securities Institute course and said it would be good for my personal development. The word securitisation in those days was like another language!”

Little did Mitchell know the challenges ahead. “I saw the stock market crash and interest rates going up to 20 per cent. It was really bad in Victoria in the mid-1990s because it was one financial collapse after another.”

It was an era of uncertainty in Australia as the economy struggled to survive the recession. “I kept my job – the difference in those days to where we are now is you could access money in the securitised markets.”

Mitchell later set up Heine’s residential program through the securitised markets. “We dealt a lot with financial planners, [and I was] going out and talking to people and I always felt confident to do that. If you had the product and the knowledge, you’d be able to sell the product.”

At this time, the non-bank sector was also emerging. “All these new names were coming into the market, it was really exciting. I thought to myself, ‘how great is this industry’.”

Mitchell played a key part in shaping the industry throughout its growth phase in the early 2000s. He says gone are the days when gathering at the pub and “patting each other on the back” was the norm. “We’ve got to make sure we keep driving that level of professionalism higher.”

Diversification is the name of the game in the industry today, Mitchell says. “I think commercial and business equipment will be really important over the coming years because people have to understand that they can’t just focus on one product, they’ve really got to be diversified to sell different products.”

And another piece of stellar advice from this seasoned industry veteran? “Don’t hold back in going to education sessions, it doesn’t matter what your age is or how good you are, always take that opportunity because you can never stop learning.

“I find that I still learn and I enjoy [it]. Hopefully I’ll never stop learning and having to listen to other people rather than thinking that I know it all.”




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