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MFAA Prosper : Mortgage and Finance Brief 07
Graeme Matthews AM, Chairman of the Credit Ombudsman Service (COSL), sadly passed away on 25 December. Hailing from Western Australia, Graeme had a long and distinguished career in the rural co-operative, accountancy and building society industries, before becoming the chair of MIOS (COSL's predecessor) in 2001. MIOS evolved into COSL in 2003. COSL was established with the backing of the MFAA (previously MIAA), specifically to raise the professional standards of its members and the industry generally. Graeme was appointed COSL's inaugural Chairman in 2003. It had at that stage only 1,200 members; under his Chairmanship, COSL grew to more than 14,000 members. Graeme also acted as its CEO until the appointment of the present CEO and Ombudsman, Raj Venga. "Graeme was my mentor, we made a very good team," says Mr Venga. "He built COSL from virtually nothing. Knowing the ins and outs of the industry, he had contacts all over the place. Whenever I told him something, he'd already heard it from someone else!" As a dispute resolution scheme approved by ASIC, COSL's board must comprise an equal number of industry and consumer directors; and as such needs a strong Chairman to manage and reconcile potential conflicts and divergent views. "Graeme was a man of great integrity, and he ran a tight ship," says Mr Venga. "But he was very inclusive in his dealings with others and was calm, patient and always very pleasant to everyone he met. He was the kind of person who greeted each person he passed in the airport, from the cleaner to the pilot they all seemed to know him." Graeme's record in the financial services industry was illustrious, and he was awarded the Order of Australia in 1995 for services to the finance industry, particularly in the introduction of new technology. "Despite his age, Graeme was right up there with technology," says Mr Venga. "It's easy to see why: 20 years ago and not to be outdone by the big banks, he pioneered the development of an alternative payment system for the building society industry which allowed them to compete with the banks for the first time. 1936-2010 It was just like Graeme to fight for the underdog. He was to do this again later at COSL." "His main focus was to ensure that small brokers in particular (who comprise the overwhelming majority of COSL's members) were not disadvantaged by the level of our fees. He understood that complaint fees could be crippling for them if they were too high. He therefore introduced a free complaint voucher for all members -- a first in Australia." Phil Naylor, CEO of the MFAA, says, "When I joined MFAA (then MIAA) in 2002, one of the first characters I met was Graeme Matthews. At that stage he was almost single-handedly running MIOS. I worked closely with him in ensuring the transformation of MIOS to COSL and in that process he demonstrated what a giant he was, not only physically but moreover in his determination to ensure the successful establishment of a fair but practical EDR scheme in COSL." Jon Denovan, partner at Gadens Lawyers and one of COSL's industry directors, says, "Graeme's leadership was invaluable to the credit industry. Even when ill, the objective of running the best EDR scheme in Australia was always his first concern. He had a unique blend of skills including financial management and business planning, which were fundamental to the growth and management of COSL. He was always prepared to put in long hours to understand the details of issues, and will be a hard act to follow." Graeme leaves behind his wife Velia and five daughters, Edwina, Mignonne, Bronwyn, Nerolie and Briony. Graeme Matthews AM “ Graeme was calm, patient and always very pleasant to everyone he met.” Mortgage & Finance brief | 61 Notices
Mortgage and Finance Brief 06
Mortgage and Finance Brief 08