1. Home
  2. executive-interviews
  3. Finance & Banking
  4. Others Before Self: Cory Bannister

Others Before Self: Cory Bannister

With financial inclusion top of mind for La Trobe Financial, Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer Cory Bannister is ensuring that there are credit products available to people from all walks of life.

As far as first jobs go, Cory Bannister’s ticked all the right boxes. While others may have soaked up the experience and moved on to other companies, he instantly found satisfaction in what he was doing at La Trobe Financial and stuck around. He is still there, 25 years later.

His role has, of course, changed over that time. While he initially joined in a finance capacity, he quickly realized that it was credit that really interested him. It was an area where he could still use his accounting skills while also interacting with the brokers and borrowers.

"I quickly worked out that I had a really strong connection to the culture of the company and the work that we were doing. So it became a real labor of love for me."

"As I learned more about the types of loans that La Trobe Financial were doing, and importantly, who the target customers were and why, I really fell in love with the business," he tells The CEO Magazine.

"I quickly worked out that I had a really strong connection to the culture of the company and the work that we were doing. So it became a real labor of love for me."

Constant Change

It’s this culture, underpinned by the guiding principle of ‘others before self’, that has kept Bannister engaged over the years. "It’s something that is used in daily interactions and really sets the tone for what we’re about," he says.

"I’m in my 25th year, but I’m not an outlier. There are actually multiple staff members with a similar tenure here and longer, which is rare in business these days and becoming increasingly so, which really speaks to that stability and culture."

While this focus on its people has remained consistent over its entire 70-year history, La Trobe Financial’s journey has been one of continual evolution around its core tenet of financial inclusion.

"The pace of that change gets faster every single year," Bannister says. "Each year, we’re serving more people through new relationships, new territories and we’re not expecting that pace to slow down either."

"More and more people are choosing performance over historical allegiance."

With non-bank alternatives being increasingly embraced by consumers, La Trobe Financial expects the trend to continue, further fueled by current economic and regulatory conditions.

"Also, more and more people are choosing performance over historical allegiance," he says. The personal touch that La Trobe Financial provides, as compared with a growing focus on automation and a simplification of product offerings in the banking sector, also makes it an appealing option for a broad cross-section of consumers.

"Much of our product design and policy setting is focused on those underserved or overlooked gaps in the market. That’s what we refer to as the complex credit segment," Bannister explains. "We assess where gaps exist and then set about developing products that aim to fill those gaps.

"Importantly, we target very high quality loans. They just don’t meet automated credit assessment criteria that banks are appropriately favoring right now. They require a human element. They’re labor intensive to be able to understand the objectives and requirements of the borrower. And you need that, along with a can-do attitude and flexible credit policy in order to bring it all to life."

An Enduring Market

This hard-to-replicate business model has an important part to play going forward, according to Bannister.

"We see it as being an enduring market as the traditional working and living methods of Australians continue to change and evolve over time," he says. "So there’s more need for square peg or customized solutions."

The positive impact on its customers is reward in itself, but it also acts as inspiration for the La Trobe Financial team, says Bannister who refers to Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why.

"The best motivator for people is to provide a clear picture and understanding of the work they do, show them the meaning of their work and how it impacts others," he reflects.

"There’s more need for square peg or customized solutions."

"It’s particularly the case in our business where our people are playing a very important role in society in terms of the market segments we’re targeting. Focusing in on complex prime areas of the market means that, as a result of our work, more people have access to financial solutions they wouldn’t otherwise find."

It’s a purpose that helps La Trobe Financial attract the best people, which Bannister highlights as a crucial pillar of great leadership. "The reason we stand out is due to their dedication and commitment," he insists.

"My team are the ones who are writing the amazing stories every day. I’m just the lucky guy that gets to stand out front and read them aloud."

Inspiring The Business World