Category Archives: Tech

Mortgage Brokers Reject MFAA Reform Offer

The Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia has stopped short of endorsing options which can break the nexus between high-risk loans and bumper commissions by describing lots of the choices presented to them as unviable and risking unintended consequences.

The body for mortgage brokers has researched a set of choices to reduce conflicts of interest and poor outcomes for customers in an almost fifty page response to ASIC’s Review of Broker Remuneration but finally found that many choices on the table ultimately devalued the importance of investment in mortgage brokers and were unworkable.

MFAA CEO Mike Felton known for realistic answers to the issues faced by the sector stated that the window of opportunity to deliver meaningful structural change for them was quickly closing. If we are to boost consumer outcomes throughout the finance and mortgage value chain with minimal disruption for our associates, we have to embrace change voluntarily.

Mr Felton Said that among the following steps for the industry is to work with ASIC to jointly define what “good customer results” were and how they are quantified before real reform could be made.


Multiple options


The mortgage broking industry has attracted substantial scrutiny following the operator’s report with over half of all mortgages originated from broking networks at a price of about $4600 based on analysis performed by UBS. Payments to mortgage brokers have risen by 18 percent every year and in 2015 reached $2.4 billion.

The MFAA Report, which was sent to treasury a few weeks ago, researched five choices to reduce conflicts of interest that were canvassed by regulators for mortgage broker websites and brick and mortar brokerages.

This included lower commissions for high-risk loans, fee for service models, smaller upfront commissions and conventional upfront commissions, but finally baulked at encouraging them because of unintended consequences.

The MFAA made some progress on wiping out the practice of agents offering clients super-sized mortgages through their mortgage broker website where agents recommend considerable amounts of money are abandoned in an offset account and the corresponding commission is pocketed by the mortgage broker.

The MFAA is recommending that the easiest way to end this practice is by simply paying commissions on the percentage of the loan that’s drawn and earning zero commission on the percentage from the offset account payable to the agent. It also recommended to provide more transparency about “soft dollar” payments where agents were rewarded with travel and hospitality.


Complex issues


Another option the MFAA believed was decreasing mortgage broking commissions for higher-risk mortgages with high loan-to-valuation ratios. This included a structure called a pivot whereby the commissions would fall for each five percentage points a LVR (loan-to-value ratio) moved higher.

In the example being considered the upfront commission on a mortgage composed with an LVR of 95 percent could be one-third lower than a mortgage composed with an LVR or 65 percent.

The MFAA said it would be unwise to present an LVR pivot now for fear of unintended consequences like locking out first-home buyers. Additionally, it said that it might introduce unnecessary complexity to the commission model and decrease worker productivity industry wide.

The report also rejected the fee-for-service version, which it described as suffering from numerous shortcomings and might see an agent subsidising another and could break the nexus between agent remuneration and financial value.

Fee for service is a model that’s been widely adopted by many businesses facing similar problems around conflicts of interest like in the retail financial information space.

The Sedgwick Remuneration Review that came out one month following the ASIC report and has been funded by the Australian Bankers Association who also commended the fee for service model stating it will be in the long-term interests of clients.

Australian Interior Design Trends for 2017

You could blame it on the prevalence of home renovation TV shows, Instagram or Pinterest but it appears there’s never been a larger focus on interior design. And it is something Australia’s design heavyweights have noticed also. It is apparent that the impact of design on our lives, both at home and work, is continuing to gain momentum. It looks like the sector is significantly more involved than ever in a huge assortment of jobs from small renovations to large scale public spaces. It is exciting times for interior decorating fans.

Interestingly, among the best influences on design has been the prevalence of Instagram. We now have greater access to designers from all over the globe and can see the most recent design displays in real time. There has been an indelible mark technology has left on the design scene, and it’s only going to grow.

From natural substances to clever use of colour and the bespoke fashion, we talked to last year’s Australian Interior Design Awards’ judges to receive their take on what they’re expecting from this year’s entrants and the use of design in 2017.


Adaptive re-use

The drive to revitalise current possessions and observe the past shows no sign of abating. Currently, there’s an emphasis on elastic re-use with many preferring to strip back existing buildings to their bare bones and operate within the context of the building’s original structure to expose and celebrate its own credibility. This, together with a focus on enhancing natural light, using organic and highly textured materials, smooth neutral tones and the addition of foliage and lush greens and coastal home interiors advises the approach we’re seeing now.


Natural substances

Across the board, the judges believe that 2017 will see natural substances in the forefront of design yet again. This year they hope to see an increased need for the handmade, with many looking for the imperfect beauty of more authentic, natural substances. With a progressive approach, these substances can be reinterpreted in new ways, building on less conventional ideas of luxury.



While monochrome insides are still going strong, 2017 will see a return to more enthusiastic use of colour especially in the form of coastal interior design. This year the judges hope to see a good deal more colour-blocking come to the fore. Collectively, the judges have seen numerous designers maintaining colour tonal where all finishes are in the exact shades. Opposite to this is a pared back approach to substances where site-specific factors are kept and then juxtaposed against detailed design components in rich materials.




Eschewing the cookie cutter, generic interior design approach of the past, there will be an enormous emphasis on bespoke design in 2017 too. Every customer is looking for a design solution that reflects and speaks to themselves and their aspirations. With an endless stream of appearances and styles presented within all sorts of media, it’s the role of the designer, today more than ever, to elevate and enhance jobs with private, original and innovative ideas.


Buying local


It’s something that everyone is becoming more and more conscious about and there is no doubt there’s been a push to encourage local manufacturers of late. In Australia, there’s a definite increase in the local furniture market, which will be great to see, both concerning design and production. This year the judges are expecting to find some high-quality bits being developed for the worldwide market in addition to the local one.

November Sales for Sydney Shoppers

First up in fashion news before we delve in the sales manual for November, this season has seen an array of artists and designers donate to charity, and New Zealand based fashion brand Kowtow is the newest to give a hand.


Founded in 2007 by Gosia Piatek, the mindful label has just released collaboration with Melbourne artist Caroline Walls, with lots of their common aesthetics coming to life. The Building Block basic set aims to inspire confidence and empowerment by showcasing the work of Walls who place the female anatomy in focus. They have aligned aesthetics: minimalism and a compact colour palette into their clothes and men’s and women’s shoes which made it feel as a natural and authentic collaboration.


The Prices vary from $99-$129, with $20 from every pared-back t-shirt to be contributed to the International Women’s Development Agency to strengthen security and protection for women in the Asia Pacific region, aiming to break cycles of gender based violence. “Ensuring women’s safety and security is the first step in achieving really significant social change. I am really pleased that with Kowtow we can raise funds and awareness to support this in developing countries,” says Walls.


The release also coincides with Walls Paddington exhibition display showcase, MAYBE SHE, at Saint Cloche gallery.


Sales Guide


Missed out on buying one of your previous Ellery favourites? The Parisian inspired Australian cult label, famous for its trademark flares and eyelet bits, is holding a record sale in the Paddington shop across three days, featuring pieces from all seasons at around 80 percent off.


Love labels? Then the Parlour X sale should be the first thing you do next Monday, after coffee, of course. There will be deals on brands such as Celine, Chloe, Valentino, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent and Isabel Marant at around 50 percent off recent collections as well as 70 percent off past collections.


Designer Emporium Parlour X is holding a sale starting from Monday.


Renowned for their unstructured and relaxed collections, Jac + Jack is holding a two-day warehouse sale with previous seasons such as ’17 and exclusive one-off display showcase samples at around 70 percent off. Get excited for signature tees, pants, skirts, women’s shoes and dress designs in addition to linen jerseys, cashmere and accessories for women and men.


Australian Brand Ixiah are having their main warehouse sale with archived samples, new year restricted pieces, samples and selected stock reduced to clear. It is the only time that the tag puts their collections on sale. Inspired by a focus on whimsical textures, expect to find loosely fitting silhouettes, dreamy colours and earthy tones.


A Bikini a Day founders Natasha Oakley and Devin Brugman are providing their fans with the first peek at their resort 18 collection, Paradise Found, in addition to a chance to meet them both to get a personal styling session in a Sydney pop-up. Their brand Monday Swimwear have partnered with brands such as Sunnylife, By Chari, St Tropez, Homebody and Nakula, just in time for the summer.


Christmas is just a month and a half off so if jewelry and watches are in your mind for a present to purchase. The two-day warehouse sale in Chatswood will comprise brands such as Thomas Sabo, JAG and TW Steel in 90 percent off with prices beginning at $5.


Next week, Sabatini is holding their summer sale over four-days in Surry Hills. Prepare for warmer weather with a choice of lightweight knits, silk dresses, organic cottons, jersey and linen styles available. The brand adheres into a “Made in New Zealand” doctrine, with every design handmade with sustainable fabrics.


Just Opened


Following Its successful run as little pop-up store in The Galeries, home-grown bespoke dressing concept for guys gentSac is opening up their first bricks and mortar shop in exactly the same precinct, just in time for Christmas shopping.


Featuring carefully selected local and global brands such as Apelles, Mossman, 18.21 and Hunter Lab amongst their own goods, the store is especially curated with tailored grooming products. The brand’s subscription service will also last, a kit containing of premium and essential products in addition to accessories and men’s dress shoes, to equip each man.


What’s in this season – Slip Dresses


The holiday season is slowly approaching and if you’re planning outfits to take you from work to evening parties, the slide dress is a great “wear anywhere” investment piece. It’s no surprise that the 90s fad’s popularity continues to dominate this spring due to its versatility. Plus it allows the accessories to shine. For work you can opt for a top underneath, blazer with flat shoes, or t-shirts and women’s sneakers for weekend plans. For evening lace heels, Statement rings and a colourful bag will do just fine. Play with textures, ws well with sequins and floral designs, and the typical silks and satin. We’re taking inspiration from Alexa Chung, always.

Producing Quality Site Project Management

Technological advancement has opened up many opportunities for the building industry. However, the building industry also faces many challenges. Jobs are getting increasingly more complicated, there is now economic instability, and higher pressures to not only deliver successful projects but deliver them on time and within budget in order to sell a commercial property for profit. Such factors place plenty of pressure on the building supervisor, as even the smallest of errors can lead to a delay of the entire project schedule in addition to additional costs. Utilizing project management methods effectively can help the construction industry reduce the possibility of failure and deliver projects better. The main aspect in building is the cost factor as it determines that the financial success of a project and affects by other project factors like scope, quality and time. Construction project managers will need to plan the budget correctly but also should continuously compare the estimated costs with the real expenses and adjust the budget plan accordingly.

Failure to do so can cause a good deal of problems in the long term. Do not forget that it’s far easier to take care of a 10% budget overrun at the beginning than a 50% overrun in the end, when it’s too late to turn it around. Changes and dangers also pose as threats to the budget program. A lot can and will fail in construction that’s the reason why comprehensive conflict and crisis management skills are essential to complete projects successfully. As construction projects are becoming more complicated and with a great deal of stakeholders involved, it’s absolutely crucial to have a clearly structured job program and schedule that can be utilised through mobile job management software. The first step is to recognize the more general tasks and then split these jobs to more specific sub-tasks. Additionally, it is important to not forget to add tasks that precede the actual construction, like removing vegetation to clean up the work site.

In terms of the scheduling of the jobs, you always need to prioritize tasks and variable in eventual dependencies as some jobs can run parallel whereas others may only start if the predecessor tasks are completed. Additionally, include milestones and deadlines that serve as guidelines in addition to motivation to the building team. This may all seem like it’s a given for experienced construction supervisors, but meticulous preparation requires a whole lot of time and effort and isn’t something which is done like this.

As construction projects are so varied and productivity is dependent on so many diverse factors there’s not one ultimate productivity measure. However, every job can and should regularly compare actual performance with goal performance. This can allow you to identify unproductive activities and procedures and find a solution to improve efficiency and effectiveness instantly. An excellent job manager always knows how to delegate and outsource jobs. Allocating the correct people to the proper jobs is vitally important, especially in building. You want to assign people depending on their abilities, experience, and their accessibility, which will also help with maintaining and improving your quality management system.

Globalisation has contributed to more rigorous competition for the building industry, but it has also opened up the labour markets. Construction supervisors have access to a diverse and highly skilled international workforce. This enables them to design a more flexible and cost-efficient personnel plan and use a talent pool, which wasn’t available to them earlier. New cooperation and communication technologies support this tendency of remote teams but also meet the growing demands of customers to immediate and effortless access to information updates concerning the construction project, especially to stakeholders such as commercial property agents who are making arrangements to sell a property quickly.

As there are several stakeholders in a building project, effective communication is very important for the project’s success. In actuality, the majority of project failures are a consequence of insufficient communication between parties concerned. So to make certain that communication does not break down, you will need to create a clear strategy from the very beginning, outlining the communication process and the technique, and be certain that everybody understands and adheres to it.