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The sharp-eyed CIO

Tim Mendham | Aug. 19, 2013
Neill Rose-Innes has a strong focus on the business as CIO and GM of operations at Mortgage Choice. But he says acquiring and retaining customers is what it's really all about.

Neill Rose-Innes

"I wouldn't have a job if I didn't have a focus on customers," says Neill Rose-Innes.

Rose-Innes is GM of operations and CIO with residential mortgage brokers and, recently, financial planners, Mortgage Choice, a company which comprises a central operation doing business through around 400 franchisees.

He describes Mortgage Choice as "a small-to-medium business with a big shadow", which is borne out by the stats: it manages $46.3 billion in loans and reported net profit after tax of about $15 million on total group revenue of around $140 million during FY13. The organisation also finalised $5.82 billion in housing loan approvals during the first half of 2012-13.

Rose-Innes' dual responsibility of CIO and effectively COO means he has his hands on many levers, bringing a strong focus on the business. But, as he says, a customer focus is really what it is all about.

"Customer engagement is vitally important. And to maintain our customer base means we need to be proactive," he says. "We set KPIs for our IT staff on their interaction with customers, and have a monthly scorecard to show how they are progressing. Yes, IT skills are the starting point, but equally important is customer-focus and communication."

Rose-Innes' own IT skills include an IT and business management degree from South Africa. He followed this with a couple of years as a programmer, and then moved into a series of IT and management consultancies.

Coming to Australia in 2000, he joined RAMS, one of the more aggressive smaller home mortgage providers, as CIO. He left to found a start-up capital financing firm, Greenway Capital, where he was in charge of operations and IT. In 2007, he moved to Mortgage Choice, again running operations and IT.

Throughout his career he has played on the entrepreneurial side of the professional ledger.

"On my first day at Mortgage Choice, I sat down with the IT team and said we needed to reorganise ourselves as an external service provider, a company in its own right," he says.(

This meant that the cost to the organisation needed to reflect the value of the services we provide. We need to justify our position as a supplier, otherwise the company might look elsewhere for someone to look after its technology operations.

"We have the advantage of understanding the organisation, its structure and its customers, but we still need to add value if we are to succeed."

An indication of that success is that the CEO of the company undertakes a survey of franchisees every six months to rate the various services offered. Rose-Innes is proud when he says that the IT department has come out top of the list for four surveys in a row.


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